What is a Feldspar, and why do we love them?
“Feldspar” is the name of a large group of rock-forming silicate minerals that make up over 50% of Earth’s crust. They are found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks in all parts of the world. Feldspar minerals have very similar structures, chemical compositions, and physical properties. Most Feldspars are used in all types of industry.
About 600,000 metric tons of feldspar is produced each year in the United States. Most of this feldspar is crushed into fine granules or powders and then consumed in factories that produce plate glass, ceramic tile, fiberglass insulation, paints, plastics, pottery, container glass and other products. Most of these products play an important role in commercial and residential construction, and the demand for feldspar is supported by the health of the construction industry.
Feldspars we love!
Although many of the feldspars used in industry are not necessarily “loved” by crystal collectors, there are a few – incredibly unique gems that we just can’t live without! Understanding how they are connected, and properties they share, gives us insight on not only what they can do for us – but also how we can work and interact with them. Four of them in particular are highly prized in crystal energy work and best known for their optical phenomena, are the ones we cannot get enough of!
1. First Feldspar we love: Labradorite
Labradorite is a crystal that fascinates many people. How can you not be fascinated by the beautiful flash of colors? Labradorite was first discovered in the late 1700’s in Labrador, Canada. Since then, deposits have been noted in Finland, Russia, Australia, Mexico, United States and Madagascar.
It is said that according to Eskimo Indian legend, the northern lights were freed from Labradorite. An ancient Inuit legend tells us that long ago the Northern Lights were trapped inside the rocks along the coast of Labrador. One day they were found by an Inuit warrior who freed them with his spear. Sadly, the warrior couldn’t release of all the lights and so some remained imprisoned in the rocks. This is why labradorite is found in the rocks of Labrador today.
The rainbow colored flashes seen in labradorite are known as labradorescence or schiller, and they do indeed resemble the beauty of the Northern Lights. It is therefore not surprising that shortly after its discovery in 1770 by Moravian missionaries on Paul Island in Labrador, Canada, labradorite became a popular stone for use in jewelry in France and England.
What is Labradorite?
Labradorite is a feldspar mineral of the plagioclase series that is most often found in mafic igneous rocks such as basalt, gabbro, and norite. It is also found in anorthosite, an igneous rock in which labradorite can be the most abundant mineral. Some specimens of labradorite exhibit a schiller effect, which is a strong play of iridescent blue, green, red, orange, and yellow colors. Labradorite is so well known for these spectacular displays of color that the phenomenon is known as “labradorescence.” Specimens with the highest quality labradorescence are often selected for use as gemstones.
Labradorite is the only mineral in the plagioclase series that exhibits strong labradorescence; however, many specimens of labradorite do not exhibit the phenomenon. Without seeing labradorescence, distinguishing labradorite from other members of the plagioclase series can be difficult. The methods used for distinguishing them are x-ray diffraction, chemical analysis, optical tests, and specific gravity determinations on pure specimens.
Labradorescence is not a display of colors reflected from the surface of a specimen. Instead, light enters the stone, strikes a twinning surface within the stone, and reflects from it. The color seen by the observer is the color of light reflected from that twinning surface. Different twinning surfaces within the stone reflect different colors of light. Light reflecting from different twinning surfaces in various parts of the stone can give the stone a multi-colored appearance. In high grade pieces this can be seen equally in natural as well as in the polished stone.
Metaphysical work with Labradorite: The Labradorescence of Labradorite plays right into it’s metaphysical properties. It helps you to see different sides of a situation, which is one reason why it is prized for all types of inner work. In ancient times, it was used in Sorcery – seen to augment the power of the sorcerer. It was believed to have the power to capture energy of all kinds, and was often used as a focus for spellwork. In more recent times it has been used to expand consciousness, and help you connect with your higher self!
2. Our Second Love: Moonstone
Few gemstones have accumulated as much lore and romance as moonstone. This unusual gem with the distinctive milky shimmer has been known for thousands of years, and has been revered by many cultures. According to Hindu legend, moonstone was formed from moonbeams. At one time it was believed that if you held one in your mouth during a full moon, you would see your future. In India, moonstone is still regarded as a sacred stone and is widely believed to bring good fortune. The ancient Romans also associated moonstone with the moon and speculated that the gem was formed from drops of moonlight. They considered the gemstones as possessing those properties traditionally associated with the moon; romance, femininity, intuition, dreams and the emotions.
What is Moonstone?
Moonstone is the popular name used for gem-quality feldspar that exhibits the phenomenon of adularescence. Adularescence is observed in pieces of feldspar that contain thin alternating layers of orthoclase and albite. These micron-thick layers of different composition also have different refractive indexes. Light, penetrating one layer after another, is bent, reflected and scattered at the surface of each layer. The scattered light within the stone is what causes the adularescent glow and the beauty of the gem. Interlayering of other feldspars such as labradorite, oligoclase, or sanidine can also produce adularescence. Sri Lanka is the world’s most important source of fine-quality moonstone. Moonstone is also produced in significant quantities in Brazil, Myanmar and India. Small amounts are found in many other countries around the world.
The term “adularescence” has its origin in Switzerland. Fine-quality moonstone was mined in the Swiss Alps, near the town of St. Gotthard Pass, formerly named Mt. Adular. The moonstone found there was called “adularia”, named after the town. The name adularescence was used for the phenomena exhibited by the gem and the term spread by word of mouth and in print to gem dealers worldwide. The glow of moonstone is dynamic and appears to move within the stone when one of three things occurs: 1) the source of illumination moves, 2) the angle of observation is changed, or, 3) the gemstone is moved under the light. This beautiful and intriguing adularescence is what makes moonstone the most popular gemstone of the feldspar group!
Metaphysical work with Moonstone: Moonstone has strong associations with romance and female energy. The physical properties of moonstone emphasize that with its ability to refract and reflect light. Moonstone helps relationships by doing exactly that. It helps each party to see the beauty in the other, just as Plato said “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”! With moonstone that is exactly true. It changes and refracts light so that as you move it, it always shows you it’s best side. The mysticism associated with the moon makes moonstone the ultimate female power crystal!
3. Our love for Sunstone!
According to Native American legend, the blood of a great warrior – wounded by an arrow – dropped onto pieces of Oregon sunstone. The blood carried his warrior spirit into the stones, coloring them with shades of red and giving them sacred power.
In India, Sunstone was worn as protection against intrusive or negative forces. And in ancient Egypt, it was believed that the radiance of the sun and the fire of the solar ray were carried by Sunstone, energizing Ra, the sun god. In ancient Greece, they also believed that the Sunstone represented the Sun God. Their sun god was Helios (or Apollo). They believed that Sunstone invigorated and improved the state of the physical body and the spirit.
What is Sunstone?
The name “sunstone” is used for specimens of translucent to transparent feldspar that produce bright metallic flashes when light interacts with tiny plate-like mineral inclusions within the stone. These mineral inclusions usually have a common orientation, and light entering the stone reflects from them at a common angle. This produces a flash of light in the eye of the observer who views them at the proper angle. Sunstone is also known as “heliolite” and more commonly “aventurescent feldspar.”
Aventurescent feldspar has been found in Australia, Canada, China, Congo, India, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, the United States (Oregon, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania) and other localities. The most famous sunstone deposits in the United States are located in Oregon. A few of the sunstone deposits in Oregon are large enough to sustain mining operations.
Metaphysical work with Sunstone: Sunstone has strong associations with the Sun and Male energy. The inclusions that cause the beautiful sparkle in sunstone is generally caused by either copper or hematite. This makes Sunstone a crystal that can harness the power of the sun to a level that can be used and tapped into by us humans without making it feel overwhelming. Use Sunstone when you are trying to shine in your current environment. Sunstone helps to build your confidence without making you seem arrogant. It is a fantastic stone for both Solar Plexus and Sacral chakras. It is particulary good for storing energies associated with the Summer Solstice!
4. Amazonite loves us as much as we love it!
The ancient Egyptians, who made beautiful jewelry and ornamental pieces from this stone, made amazonite famous. The folk name for amazonite is ‘the Amazon stone’. It was called this in the belief that the stone came from the Amazon River. However, this is not really the case. The stone was named after the Amazon river, but it was never actually found near the river. It was and is however, mined in other places around Brazil. Apparently the Spanish explorers who named the mineral confused Amazonite with some other mineral from the Amazon basin. Which mineral is now unknown, but in fact Amazonite is frequently mistaken for other green minerals, for example jade.
Others say that Amazonite gets it’s name from for the Amazon women of legend who worshiped the goddess Diana, for their bravery and calm courage. In Greek Mythology the Amazons were a nation of women warriors. While there is disagreement over the historical existence of the Amazons as a people it is likely the source of the name of this stone.
Amazonite has been used as a gem for over 2000 years. It has been found in archaeological excavations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, however no ancient or medieval authority mentions it. It was first described as a distinct mineral only in the 18th century.
What is Amazonite?
Amazonite is a trade name used for a bluish-green to greenish-blue gem material – this color generally comes from an elevatedm content of lead (sometimes up to 1.2%). It is a color variety of microcline, a potassium-rich member of the feldspar mineral group. It generally forms in lower temperatures with a higher water content. Some vendors have attempted to make the gem sound a little more valuable by calling it “Amazon jade”. That type of name is a “misnomer”, a name that suggests a different (and usually more valuable) identity – in this case, jade. Sellers who use misnomers to promote a product can face legal action from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or from their customers. “Yellow emerald” and “green amethyst” are misnomers that were addressed in recent FTC guides.
Amazonite is very colorful and often occurs in beautiful crystal clusters. That makes it extremely popular with mineral specimen collectors. Amazonite is found in small deposits in several parts of the world. Deposits are known in the United States, Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Namibia, Norway, Poland, Russia, and Sweden. Amazonite was once obtained almost exclusively from the Ilmen mountains in Russia. However, since 1876, the Pikes Peak district of Colorado, U.S.A., has became the most important source. Indeed the best green crystals yes found have come from scattered pegmatitic pockets in schist near Crystal Peak and Pike Peak in Colorado.
Amazonite often has white lines or alternating streaks mixed in, and can have uneven color distribution. A deep forest-green color is most preferred, but Amazonite gemstones can also be light green and bluish-green. Grayish-green and very faint green stones also exist, but are not commonly used as gemstones. Care should be handled with Amazonite as it is sensitive to pressure and can easily crack or chip.
Metaphysical work with Amazonite: Amazonite has strong associations with the water element. It is traditionally used to enhance female energy, especially during pregnancy. It is believed that Amazonite will help during the labor process. It is often strongly associated with family relationships and is often used in Dianic magick. Use this crystal to balance female energies or even to make that “special” time of the month a little easier to bear!
We love Feldspars – now – tell us which one is your favorite!!