Iolite is a rich purple-blue gemstone which, when clear, is cut into traditional shapes.
The name Iolite comes from the Greek word "Ios" meaning violet.
Iolite was the secret weapon of the seafaring Vikings as they used slithers of Iolite in the first polarising filter. Using an Iolite lens they could determine the direction of the sun and therefore the direction of travel.
The property that made iolite so valuable to the Vikings is extreme pleochroism (there's that impressive word again, first encountered in Tourmaline). Iolite is different colours in different directions in the crystal. A cube cut from iolite will look a violet blue almost like sapphire from one side, clear as water from the other, and a honey yellow from the top. Take a look at our iolite pendants to see both paler and darker stones.
Pleochroism may have been helpful in navigation but it makes things difficult for a gem cutter. If iolite is not cut from exactly the right direction, no matter the shape of the rough, its colour won't show to its best advantage.
Iolite is attractive and affordable and relatively hard.
It is mined in India, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Brazil. The Vikings probably mined iolite from deposits in Norway and Greenland.
Iolite is the gemstone of the 21st Wedding Anniversary.
We have some beautiful iolite jewellery - don't miss it!