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The stone whose name barely differs from the one of an elite dog breed

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

The stone whose name barely differs from the one of an elite dog breed

The wave of interest in this mineral swept over Europe in the eighteenth century. The richest people of England and France were fighting with each other for a chance to get their hands on a piece of this stone. Rare people could acquire it though, due to its extreme scarcity. This stone was used to decorate the rooms of monarchs. It set the fashion trends for noble people of that time. How could it happen that centuries later the stone’s name is associated only with a dog breed and a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean?

Labradorite received the title of an "amazingly beautiful stone" for a reason -a truly unique outer appearance. The stone can be easily recognised by its iridescent chatoyancy resembling northern lights.

Labradorite was a favourite stone of the Hyperboreans, inhabitants of a mythical country who spent their lives in bliss, dancing and enjoying music. The Ancient Greeks believed that it was those Hyperboreans who told the rest of the people about the magic mineral bringing happiness to its owners. In the Middle Ages, labradorite was thought to protect against plague, leprosy and scabies. Besides, stone’s owners could be sure they would stay sober and win at gambling.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

In Russia, labradorite stone was accidentally found during the construction of the road to Peterhof. It was an utter sensation from the very start. The mineral instantly won the hearts of noblemen in Saint Petersburg: ladies were sewing clothes and ordering jewels to match the colour of their stone, palaces and interiors were being decorated with it, as well as different kinds of furniture and handcrafted items were being made of it. This crazy popularity of the rainbow stone lasted for a little less than a century. Straight after the discovery of a large deposit in Ukraine, the mineral lost its value. It was no longer considered a gem stone but was rather perceived as an ornamental one.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

During the Soviet period, rock formations with labradorite were used to decorate the metro stations. The columns structures at Prospekt Veteranov metro station in St. Petersburg and Ploshchad Revolyutsii in Moscow are made of them. Labradorite was also used when building Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow and the Hotel Moskva (now the Four Seasons Hotel Moscow).

In Kievan Rus, people believed labradorite was sent from up above for his ability to cure diseases. Modern lithotherapists claim that thanks to its wide range of colours the stone can actually help in treating nervous disorders and infertility. Ancient Indians were wearing paired jewellery items with labradorite spar - blue-coloured jewels for men and golden ones for women. It helped loving couples sustain family welfare. As per Indian beliefs, those who keep two figurines of labradorite in their house never quarrel or disagree. A ring made of white or black labradorite stone can keep two soul mates together. Some said that was the reason why Catherine the Great gifted rings with this stone to her lovers.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

These days, labradorite is hardly a rare mineral. Anyone willing to have it can buy it. However, there are some unique samples as well - the ones collectors would die for. Price of the stone is mainly defined by its brightness, colourfulness and the play of colours. The rarest type of labradorite in Russia is moonstone - a stone of white and gray colour with medium blue glisten.