Posted on by Nevil Agrawal

Iolite is a beautiful blue gemstone famous for its stunning optical phenomena – pleochroism and dichroism – an ability that allows it to change color when viewed from different angles. Yes! When you look at it from one direction, it can appear dark, sapphire-like blue and when viewed from another direction, the same stone can appear clear as water. Iolite crystals naturally occur in colors ranging from colorless and grey to pale blue, dark blue and violet. Though it is widely known as iolite in the gem and jewelry industry, ‘Cordierite’ (named after French geologist Cordier) is the official name of the mineral. Due to its appearance, it is also called the "Water sapphire" or “Dichroite.”  Like a crisp and dark winter sky, Iolite, in its shades of blue and violet, carries the spirit of journey, of exploration and illumination, dreams and intuition.

Known for its ability to move us physically and spiritually, this gemstone is also called the Vikings’ Compass.  Fine iolite is consistently found in its natural state and is hence rarely treated. The fact that it doesn’t require any further treatment other than normal cutting and polishing is a selling point for customers giving it an edge over the other gemstones. Here is a buying guide that will tell you everything you need to know about iolite and how to identify a real one.

What is iolite?


Obtained from a magnesium iron aluminum cyclosilicate mineral called cordierite, Iolite comes in the form of transparent or translucent gemstones. They are generally used in the form of short prismatic, striated crystals. Iolite falls in the hardness range of 7-7.5, which makes it a suitable jewelry stone, but its presence of cleavage must be considered before any treatment is exercised.  Iolite is associated with the element of water. It is occasionally wrongly labeled as tanzanite. Also called the vision stone, it is believed that Iolite can activate the third eye and facilitate visualization and intuitive insight. 1 to 10 Carats is the general size range for a fashioned iolite. However, fine iolites over five carats are rare.


Where is iolite found?


Iolite (Cordierite) is a silicate mineral that is most commonly found in metamorphic and igneous rocks.   The hardness of iolite explains its point of occurrence. It is often found in alluvial deposits as small, transparent, waterworn pebbles.  Though most of the iolite in the world is extracted from India, substantial amounts are also mined in Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania . The other hotspots for finding iolite are Australia (Northern Territory), Burma, Canada, Madagascar, Namibia, and the United States.


Similar and Related Variants of Iolite:


Though iolite is not closely related to other gemstones, there are quite a few varieties of iolite itself. A polymorph of iolite, called Indialite, forms under high temperature and has a very similar chemical structure to beryl. Also, iolite has close mineral associations with spinel, sillimanite, garnet, hematite, and plagioclase feldspar. Talc, chlorite, and mica are a few alteration products of iolite. Gemstones such as kyanite, sapphire, and tanzanite are often mistaken with Iolite due to their similarity in appearances.

The four C’s of Iolite:


  • Color : The strong pleochroic characteristic of iolite makes it exhibit a different color when viewed from different angles. While some can look grayish or colorless, not all iolites exhibit fine color. Its pleochroic colors differ with its body color. Violet iolites exhibit other shades of violet, such as dark violet and light violet, sometimes yellow-brown colors. Bluish iolites can look blue-gray or colorless to yellow. From other angles, a bluish iolite can actually appear completely colorless or yellow, and an iolite that’s violet can look brown as well.  Also, when viewed from top to bottom, it can appear honey-yellow or light golden in color. In general, a valuable piece of Iolite will have a soft, saturated violet-blue color.
  • Clarity : Iolite is generally not very lustrous, but when polished and transparent, it exhibits an oily to vitreous luster.  While fine gem-quality iolite appears transparent to translucent in clarity, its mineral form cordierite is typically opaque. The application of heat to no matter what extent will not improve the color or clarity of iolite. Commonly transparent, it consists of a few inclusions that cause various phenomena. Generally obtained in several shapes, iolites can be carved to give beautiful effects. To display a sparkly optical reflectance effect known as aventurescence, an iolite containing several plate-like inclusions can be cut. The clarity of a gem solely depends on the quality of the cut. For example, gemstones that are cut too deep may appear opaque.
  • Cut : When buying iolite, the cut is an important factor. Iolites can be cut into cabochons or carvings, but when the material is of lower quality, they are frequently used as beads. A step cut is given to enhance the iolite’s color, whereas a shallow cut is preferred to lighten the tone. Iolite’s trichroism is a crucial characteristic that needs to be taken into account b efore the cut is given. The fact that it has a distinct cleavage in a specific direction implies that its toughness is only fair. When the cut is oriented properly on an iolite with long, parallel, tabular inclusions, these gemstones can exhibit chatoyancy (cat’s eye effect) or even asterism (the star effect).
  • Carat : Depending on the clarity, quality of the stone, and cut, the price of iolite gemstone varies greatly. The wholesale value of fine blue-violet stones in the 1 to 5 carat range is $60 to $80/carat and $100 to $150/carat for stones of 5 to 10 ct. Retail values are priced at $100 and $150 per carat, respectively, for those size ranges. 

Treatments of Iolite:


Although there is synthetic cordierite available, which is primarily used for ceramics and other industrial purposes , there are no known treatments or enhancements for iolite , which makes it unique.

How to take care of Iolite?


The extreme pleochroism of an iolite makes it a challenging material to facet. However, if placed into the right jewelry setting and handled with care, they won’t get damaged easily.  Though it can be worn in everyday rings owing to its hardness, its cleavage makes it vulnerable to fracturing. It is not recommended to wear other types of gemstones along with iolite to prevent damage.  Also, iolite is bound to damage due to changes in heat and temperature, so it is best to refrain from ultrasonic, boiling, or steam cleaning methods.

A rinse with warm water and mild dish soap is the suggested way to clean your iolite. Bleaches, detergents, and other harsh cleaning chemicals are not recommended.  Prolonged exposure to heat and sunlight, frequent temperature fluctuations, and extreme climates need to be avoided. When removing jewelry, do not pull from the stone as there are high chances leading to weakened prongs and thereby loss of a stone. It’s a great idea to put on your jewelry, including iolite jewelry, once you’re done applying your cosmetics, hairspray and perfume.  Consider storing your gemstones separately. Wrap your gems individually using a soft cloth and place them inside a neat jewelry box with soft fabric to refrain from scratches and smudges.

Iolite Meaning : 


Iolite is also known as the gemstone of vision or a “guidance” stone. It is a natural birthstone for people born in the winter solstice. Out of all zodiac signs, Iolite is considered to be a powerful stone for Arians and Pisceans. It is also considered the ideal gemstone for the 21st wedding anniversary.


Iolite Mythology : 


It’s no surprise that iolite is called the vision stone without a strong mythological reference. Centuries ago, Iolite’s unique characteristic of pleochroism was used to help people comprehend the angles of light from the sun. It is also known as 'the Viking stone' because, according to Norse legend, Vikings used thin pieces of iolite to help them find the sun on cloudy days and assist them in navigation. Thus, came the world’s first polarizing filter into existence. Legends say that Vikings discovered the first iolite deposits throughout Norway and Greenland. Iolite, in a way, is believed to enhance one's eyesight. It is also associated with the third eye chakra and is considered a stone of vision, strengthening creative expression.


Iolite Uses : 


  • Iolite is used in all types of jewelry, especially pendants, rings, and earrings.
  • Iolite assists in recovering balance for those suffering from lack of motivation, chronic disorganization, disorientation, and distraction.
  • In adverse situations, iolite strengthens the will to accept responsibility and provides self-assurance and endurance. This unique ability gives Iolite its reputation as a “guidance” stone.
  • Iolite acts as an excellent source of energy to eliminate debt and bring about the responsible management of money.
  • This gemstone aids in clearing misunderstandings within relationships. Iolite drives you to take responsibility for yourself and not wait for others to validate you.
  • Aesthetically, iolite is used in several jewelry pieces and is gaining demand as an engagement ring stone.

Iolite Metaphysical Properties:


  • With iolite's ability that helped sailors navigate in the past, it's not surprising that the gem is still known as the gemstone of clear vision.
  • Iolite brings about a sense of perspective to those who feel confused and drives anyone with a disturbing life to start afresh. 
  • It aids inner journeying and encourages inner-peace.
  • Iolite helps to free relationships from conflict.
  • It is a useful stone to hold during meditation.

Iolite Healing Properties:


  • Health Benefits: It diminishes the effect of alcohol and supports detoxification and regeneration of the liver. Iolite promotes detoxification and improves degenerated conditions of the liver. It also reduces fatty deposits in the body to a great extent. Regulating digestion, enhancing hair and nail growth, strengthening the nerves, dealing with paralysis and numb limbs, and tolerating pain are a few healing properties of iolite.
  • Emotional Healing: Iolite examines the deep inner paths of oneself. It increases the capacity to move forward in life. When bewildered, iolite aids in providing solutions to every problem. Providing a calming effect on your emotional state, it promotes positive thinking, instills hope, and supports in decision-making on how to deal with anything.
  • Other benefits: It has been used to treat malaria and other fever-producing disorders and even Meniere's disease. It also stimulates memory, prevents insomnia and nightmares.

Where should you buy Iolite Gemstones?


At GemsforJewels, we offer iolite gemstones of the highest quality in hues of black and blue. These stones can be bought loose, as cabochons, carvings, connectors, or even as rosary chains and strands; there are a plethora of varieties for you to choose from. We also boast a range of different shapes to pick from, including cube, heart, pear, tear drop, oval, and 8 other appealing shapes. Iolite is an attractive and renowned gemstone and will be perfect for all your jewelry creations.