The Viking’s Compass
Iolite is the gem quality version of the mineral cordierite and is trichroic in color. At different angles, iolite will display three different body colors when tilted that range from a honeyed-yellow to grayish-violet to a saturated blue-violet. Most doubly refractive gemstones are dichroic and only show two body colors which makes iolite special and easily identifiable.
This jewel is relatively new to the marketplace since gem quality rough was only just discovered circa 1996 at Palmer Creek, Wyoming. Now it is mined globally and used as a popular affordable alternative to sapphire and tanzanite without compromising color.
Iolite Lights the Way
The name iolite is derived from the Greek word 'ios' to mean violet. It was inventively used as a navigational tool by the vikings to follow the sun on a cloudy day. When cut into thin slices cordierite will act as a rudimentary polarizing filter.
Jewelry and Care
Iolite is unexpected by welcome choice when used in jewelry. It is one of the few stones that will be cut to have a shallow pavilion to soften color whereas most stones will have a deep pavilion to try to deepen color.
Iolite is a relatively hard and durable stone that can be cleaned in warm soapy water with a soft bristled brush. When storing, be sure to wrap in a soft cloth to prevent it from scratching softer stones and to prevent it from being scratched by harder stones. Avoid harsh chemicals when wearing iolite or any kind of jewelry.