Mysterious and beautiful, this violet-blue stone has inspired people as far back as ancient India long before it was named iolite. This gorgeous, dark blue stone was likely confused with sapphire. Yet iolite has it’s own story to tell and a few tricks up its sleeve. They include the simple fact that it’s reasonably priced making it an excellent substitute for sapphire and tanzanite. What other tales can it tell? Read on.
Perhaps the best-known story about iolite regards the Vikings. According to legend, they looked through thin slices of iolite to locate the sun on cloudy days. It acted as a polarized filter, eliminating haze and clouds. How would this work?
When clouds or haze obscure the sun, air molecules scatter the light. Iolite polarizes it at right angles to the sun allowing mariners to measure the sun’s location. Even in the densest fog or if the sun has fallen just below the horizon, this technique works. Today, seafarers have more sophisticated ways to achieve the same result, but I would guess some have at least tried using a slice of iolite. After all, the Vikings did reach North America almost 500 years before Columbus.
In search of a name
In 1809, famous French geologist and mineralogist, Pierre Louis Cordier discovered the mineral cordierite. Iolite is transparent cordierite, and that’s the name geologists and mineralogists call it. But cordierite lacks a romantic flair — the kind that rolls easily off the tongue. Thankfully in 1912, someone drew inspiration from the Greek word “ios” meaning “violet” and named the gem iolite.
Through the years it has also been called “water sapphire,” “lynx sapphire” (the dark blue shades), and Steinheilite after Fabian Steinheil, the Russian military governor of Finland from 1810 to 1824.
Let’s get oriented
Iolite’s dark blue to violet blue hue happens to be just one facet of its color. It’s strongly pleochroic displaying three distinct colors. It transitions from dark violet blue to pale blue to pale yellowish stone. Cutters orient the rough, so the crown is dark violet blue. Iolite is magnesium aluminum silicate with traces of iron and manganese. It’s the iron that gives the gem its violet blue color. Iolite is found abundantly in many countries. They include Australia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, India, Madagascar, Namibia, and the U.S.
Much like the popularity of organic commodities, natural, untreated gems have a certain caché for some customers. Iolite will make them happy. Customers can purchase a beautifully colored gemstone that has not been heated or treated in any fashion. All of our calibrated iolite has a simple “N” under AGTA.
A cordierite of a different color
A rare leek green cordierite is called praseolite, often confused with prasiolite, a green quartz gem that results from heating amethyst. Some use praseolite and prasiolite interchangeably.
Home Sweet Home
In 1996, geologist and gem hunter, W. Dan Hausel, discovered the largest gem-quality iolite deposits in Palmer Canyon, Southeast Wyoming. Here he found the Palmer Canyon Blue Star, which tipped the scales at 1,714 carats, or more than 9 oz.
As if that wasn’t enough
Hausel continued his search and not far from Palmer Canyon, in Grizzly Creek, he found a massive outcrop of iolite that contained the world’s largest iolite crystal. This transparent crystal weighed 10.7 lbs or 24,150 carats. It is in Wyoming Geological Survey Museum.
Improving your life with iolite
Iolite has amazing talents anyone would want. I suspect as many men as women would appreciate its beauty and these awesome powers.
- Strengthens eyesight.
- Rids the body of fatty deposits helping with weight loss.
- Supports detoxification of the body and the mind.
- Enhances intuition, perspective, and mental clarity.
- Stimulates creativity and curiosity.
- Increases motivation and aspirations.
- Promotes self-acceptance and acceptance of others as they are.
- Overcomes co-dependency with a partner.
- Encourages friendliness, helpfulness, and generosity.