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Iolite

Iolite is known to the public more recently but it has its proper place among the gemstones. The name iolite is a combination of the Greek words for violet and stone and therefore can be interpreted as "violet-colored stone”.

iolite crystal

The stone has different colors at different angles of which the crystal is viewed. Cubical in shape Iolite will be violet-blue, almost like sapphire from one side, clear as water from the other side and honey yellow on top. This feature of the iolite (and other gems), known in the gemology as  pleochroism, is the reason the stone sometimes to be called dichroite (from Greek, two-colored stone).

Iolite seems to have been known in the "Dark Age" of the Middle Ages as you can read everywhere about so called "Viking Compass", identified today as iolite. The legends say that the Vikings watched the sun through iolite plate and so navigated in their journeys.

iolite

The explanation of this is the pleochroism of this stone. It is clearly visible not only as a change in the angle at which the stone is observed but also at polarized light. Atmospheric moisture polarized sunlight and knowing this properties of the iolite you can relatively easily determine the direction of the sun in cloudy and foggy weather, even when the sun is below the horizon. Obviously the Vikings knew that ability of iolite and used it in their voyages in weather conditions unthinkable for other sailors at those times.

iolite cabochons

Iolite has been known since ancient times at the East. It is found in deposits of gemstones in Sri Lanka and India, where it was called "water sapphire".

In fact it is a colorful variety of the mineral cordierite, described in the XIX century by the French geologist Pierre Louis Antoine Korderom. Cordierite is the geological term for the clear, transparent mineral samples. Iolite is the jewelry variety of the mineral.

iolite faceted

source: poludrag.ru

iolite faceted
iolite faceted

Iolite is a more affordable cost effective alternative to the blue sapphire. With its hardness of 7 to 7,5 Mohs scale iolite is suitable for everyday wear in terms of resistance to scratching. However it should be protected from hitting as this can lead to the splitting of the stone or broken a piece of it.

Iolite has no imitations and in general there is no sense this to be done. Due to the pleochroism confusing iolite with another gemstone is quite difficult. All similar stones with similar color have much greater cost and much brighter color. It doesn’t fit as sapphire imitation also because the difference is obvious even at first observation.

iolite

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