INSIDE: Crystals often attract us and convey their message to us through their colors. Iridescent crystals take this to even higher realms, playing with color and light to show inspiring patterns and illusions. Use these stones in your healing toolkit to enliven your imagination.
If we look at the human body, we discover the fascinating ways that lightwaves communicate to us. Just look at color – parts of our eyes called rods and cones register light and help our brains comprehend the spectacular essence of color.
For those who are colorblind, their natural ability to detect true color is altered. In some ways, we can understand iridescence in relation to colorblindness, except that this phenomenon allows for an adventurous transformation of light waves into brilliant colors.
Iridescent crystals have qualities within their structures that cause light waves to meld and change, meaning that these stones have the ability to shape shift colors in limitless ways.
What is Iridescence?
In the most basic terms, iridescence refers the play of color. But the mechanics of iridescence involves a deeper understanding of how light moves and bends when it hits surfaces and materials.
Let's discuss interference and diffraction, the two ways that impact how crystals display iridescent brilliance.
This type of iridescence happens when light waves interact as they pass through or hit a surface.The physical composition of a crystal, namely its lattice structure, can cause light waves to come together, aligning crests and troughs of waves to either amplify or diminish the strength of the color reflected.
Constructive interference occurs when waves combine and strengthen the crests and waves, which is referred to as waves in phase. This causes the reflection of bright colors. Light waves in destructive interference, or out of phase, combine in a way that obliterates the effect of trough and crests that weaken colors.
The natural edges formed by iridescent crystals, on the surface and deep within, can cause light diffraction. Some stones have thin layers of film that compose their form, called inclusions. When light passes through this film, it reflects out and refracts in, bending the light waves to emit spectral colors.
Diffraction also occurs when two different crystal lattices, and therefore two different types of stones, form together and share a part of the lattice. Called twinning planes, these points of contact can diffract light waves into various directions of reflection and refraction that changes the way colors appear.
Types of Iridescent Stones
With an idea of how iridescence happens, lets examine four types of stones known for their iridescent colors...
This first type of iridescence gains its name from Labradorite, a type of Feldspar and Spectrolite. Because of the way blues, greens, reds, oranges, and yellows play with strong constructive interference – called the Schiller Effect – in this stone, labradorescence refers to the peacock-like spectrum of colors created in stones that include twinning surfaces inside.
This twinning surface, the confluence of two crystals lattices, reflects the light waves that strike it and present a radiant color. A single stone can contain many different twinning surfaces, all able to produce different colors.
A more muted take on the Schiller Effect, adularescence occurs in iridescent crystals like Moonstone. In this case, light reflects from a twinning plane in the microstructure of the stone to create a milky glow from within. It often appears like an ethereal blue color, floating under the surface and moving with our sight.
Commonly seen in Aventurine and Sunstone, this type of iridescence shows an infusion of metallic glitter. Caused by tiny inclusions of other minerals, like Hematite or Goethite, light bounces off the particles, giving it a deep-rooted shimmer.
The combination of mineral particles and light often creates a reddish-brown background color on most stones that show aventurescence, though we can also see green and gold stones. These stones don’t look dipped in glitter but rather have a magical glint that seems to emanate from their core.
A final group of iridescent crystals mostly refers to a single stone – Opal. Opalescence happens because of spheres of silicon dioxide that refract and reflect light waves that produce a play of colors.
The unique structure of Opal contributes to varying degrees of opalescence. Precious Opals display strong, milky iridescence, while Common Opals show something more akin to adularescence. Fire Opals usually lack the typical opalescence or iridescence characteristic of this stone.
8 Dazzling Iridescent Crystals
Now we can move on to learn about specific crystals that display dazzling plays of color…
As mentioned earlier, Labradorite’s color comes from labradorescence so that an iridescent spectrum of colors plays throughout its layers. It tends to dominate in blues, greys, and greens.
The incredible display of colors lends a balancing hand to our entire chakra system, but because Labradorite has more blues throughout, it can activate our throat chakra. With this iridescent stone, we can access new levels of spiritual consciousness and find new means to express our ideas and desires.
Hematite gives off a subtle hint of iridescence, but this doesn’t diminish the beautiful effect of the play on colors. Typically, this iridescent crystal has a black or deep red metallic surface that, when polished, reflects like a mirror. However, deep within, it shows a striation of colors from the color sprectrum.
This stone plays an important role in mitigating against negative vibrations and evil intentions. Thus, as a darker crystal, it absorbs bad energy to allow light and vibrancy to dominate our auras.
We talked about opalescence above, and Opalite has a special way of gaining this iridescent quality. It is actually a man-made crystal, but this doesn’t diminish the powerful healing we can gain through this stone. It is made through a process that replicates the way volcanic ash forms into natural Opal, and the combination of Dolomite and metal helps to create the iridescent color patterns that are treasured in the natural form.
In terms of iridescent crystals, Calcite displays an array of colors and transparencies, making every specimen’s color play unique and potent. One common property of Calcite is that it often includes twinning planes that contribute to its iridescence.
Calcite works as an energizing stone to boost the mind, body, and spirit. It provides us with motivation to take on spiritual learning and to seek growth in our relationships and intentions. It inspires creativity and confidence in the new directions we take.
This stone resembles opalescence, but it is a special type of crystal that does not actually fit the characteristics of crystals. As one of the “organic” gems, Pearl grows from a living creature. Only three other organic gems exist – Ivory, Amber, and Coral.
As a product of underwater oysters, Pearl represents rebirth and flow. With Pearl, we can embrace change and look forward to the spiritual transformations we will experience.
Another iridescent crystal we've already introduced is Moonstone, the quintessential adularescence stone. It gives off gorgeous visions of glowing light when held in hand, even though it is considered a much quieter form of iridescence.
Given its divine white and light shades, Moonstone bridges us with the universe through our crown chakra. It allows us to dive deep into our thoughts and inner calling to make sense of our place in the world.
While not exactly a crystal, this type of iridescent stone is actually remnant of a living organism. Abalone shells comes from things like snails, turtles, and mollusks, forming the hard external layer that protects these beings from harm. It grows out of soft tissue from the living organism inside it, and as layer after layer forms, a smooth, iridescent coating on the inside remains.
Abalone shells are usually used as a holder for smudge sticks, but it also has its own healing properties. As a product of water-dwelling beings, it has experienced tumultuous waters and weathered storms. Thus, it represents the unknown pathways we travel throughout life.
Another crystal formed with a little help from humans, Aura Quartz is produced when precious metals – platinum, silver, gold, titanium, or cobalt – are bonded to Clear Quartz. As the metals are heated and fused to the central Quartz, iridescent colors take over its surface.
Given the intentional design of Aura Quartz, a combination of nature’s gifts and human knowledge, these crystals take aim at our entire being. They bring rootedness, compassion, awareness, and consciousness.
Iridescent crystals dazzle our eyes and gift us with creative, colorful inspiration to explore new areas of our spiritual selves. These stones offer unique color patterns no one can replicate, constantly giving us renewed vision and energy on our journey ahead.
* Crystals and stones should not be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Please read our full disclosure notice here.