My first attempt at cutting and polishing Labradorite was an experiment, on inspection of the initial slabs I honestly though I have messed up as I could see little or none of the effect known as Labradorensence.
Because these are intended for use in pendants, only being able to see the Labradorensence in the horizontal plane wasn’t going to serve the purpose at all if the effect couldn’t be seen in the vertical.
However, I decided that I should press on with these slabs and take them through the stages on the cab machine simply so I could learn how this material works and finally polishes.
The material works easily on silicon carbide belts which need to be kept very wet to keep the heat down, I also noticed a very strong aroma when working the slabs on the 100 grit belt, but on the later less aggressive stages there was no aroma at all.
After shaping and going through the various stages of sanding it was time to try the polishing, I used cerium oxide on a felt wheel which brought up a nice lustre.
I am glad that I went all the way through with this material because at the end of the process, what I thought were going to be useless slabs have in fact, produced some really nice usable cabs.
So I guess the moral of this story is don’t give up at the start, persevere to the end and you will be rewarded!
What have I learnt so far from the initial experience and the kind comments offered by various other Lapidaries, well first of all wet your rough, then hold it up to the light, rotate the lump of rough until you find the best Labradorensence, keeping in mind that if you want to use the finished pieces for pendants you will want be able to observe the effect in the vertical plane, once you have found the correct angle, mark it because this is the way you will need to cut it.
The other thing I have learnt is that you can observe the effect in a slab, and then turn it through 180 degrees and you won’t see the effect at all, so there is a lot preparation and understanding involved before slabbing which |I guess will come with experience.
I am no expert on Labradorite but with time and practice I hope to become reasonably well accomplished with this fascinating material.
Here are the pictures of the attempt – enjoy.
I have selected the next lump Labradorite rough to go through the process, it has truly wonderful colour and Labradoresence: