Iolite is the more commonly used name for the mineral Dichroite or Cordierite. Although it is rarely found  in jewelry stores, iolite has made some gains in popularity. It is one of very few sparkling purplish blue gemstones available, and it will not break the bank. The word “iolite” comes from the Greek word for “violet”, and it is sometimes referred to as the water sapphire or lynx sapphire (although it is really not a sapphire at all).

 Hardness:  Iolite is relatively hard, with a Mohs Hardness of 7 to 7.5.

Color:  Iolite at its best is a transparent gemstone with a rich violet color. It can also be found in shades of dark violet-blue, light grey-blue, yellowish grey, green and brown, although these are less valuable.  Most of the available iolite is a medium violet color and the most intense violet-bluestones are not produced in large quantities . lolite is moderately brilliant and has a trichroic quality. This means that different colors appear when viewed along three different sides or angles: pale greyish blue, honey yellow, and violet-blue.  Iolite is available in a range of hues.

Birthstone:  Although iolite is not a recognized birthstone, it is a traditional gift for the 21st wedding anniversary.

Scarcity:  These beautiful stones are little-known treasures of the gem world but are readily available around the world.

Value:  Iolite is readily available and remarkably affordable in sizes up to 4 or 5 carats. The highest priced ones are the richest blue ones but less expensive iolite is available in gray, purple, or less saturated blue. Unlike tanzanite, which is of a similar color, iolite is a bargain and is nearly the beauty. If you are looking for a beautiful gemstone on a budget, this is a great choice.

Most Common Cuts:  Iolite presents a great challenge to gem cutters due to its trichroic quality. To successfully cut iolite, gem cutters must find the best angle of presentation possible for the jewelry they are creating.  Deep blue is the most desirable iolite shade and can only be highlighted with the perfect cut.  Faceted cuts and oval cuts predominate in iolite jewelry.

 Chemical Formula: The chemical composition of iolite is magnesium aluminum silicate (Mg2Al4Si5O18).

Synthetic Varieties:  No known treatments are known to successfully lighten the color of iolite. The current demand for the natural production of iolite is easily met as it is not one of the preferred gems for jewelry items.  Therefore, iolite does not currently warrant any synthetic varieties.

 History:  It is said that the Vikings were the first to recognize iolite for its amazing qualities. They discovered that by looking through an iolite lens, they could determine the exact position of the sun, and safely navigate the ocean.  Using iolite as a compass was probably one of its oldest uses and it is no wonder that it was dubbed the “gemstone of the Vikings”.  Iolite enjoyed popularity in jewelry in 18th-century Europe. Today iolite is mined on nearly every continent and is abundantly found in Sri Lanka, India, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Burma, Australia, Namibia, Brazil, Tanzania, Madagascar, the United States, and Canada.

Rumored Healing Properties: The healing powers of gems remain a controversial issue, but ancients believed that iolite could unlock creativity in an artist and help someone discover the lost parts of their identity. Iolite is said to support the healing of the eyes, stimulate memory, help with sleep disturbance, cure sore throats, varicose veins and various skin problems. For anyone who wears it, it is supposed to bring them happiness and joy and help them focus on living in the present. Iolite is believed to contain properties that help build positive relationships.