Iolite os one of the most beautiful of the precious gemstones with colour tones ranging from indigo through to piercing blue. The name originates from the Greek word ”Ios” meaning Violet. Stones in the lighter shade of blue as sometimes referred to as “Water Sapphires”.
IOLITE THROUGH THE AGES
This stunning stone was known as the “Viking Compass Stone” as it was used by Nordic explorers as a tool to navigate through the misty waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It worked in two ways to ensure a safe passage. Firstly, like other stones in its family like Sapphires and Tanzanite it’s a pleochromic stone meaning it can transmit light in a myriad of ways depending on which direction it is held up to the light. So Viking explorers could dangle a stone in the air to see it change colour and know which direction the sunlight was hitting it from – telling them true North. Also when cut in thin slices to use as a tool for vision, it works in the same way as a polarising filter on a camera to illiminate mist and haze to help to see a way though the fog at sea.
WHAT PROPERTIES ARE ASSOCIATED WITH IOLITE?
Due to it’s Nordic history Iolite is known as the stone of illumination and the spirit of journeys. It is said to be associated with dreams, exploration and the ability by the wearer for spiritual growth. Folklore includes myths claiming it to bring peace from chaos and its power to balance and present order. Its is claimed to activate the creative side of the mind and help with achievment of endeavours. It cannot be heated to change the colour or clarity so the colour you see is the same colour the Vikings saw. You will always know this is a true colour tone and it’s seen that the richer the blue hue the better. As it is high on the Mohs hardness scale this makes it a practical choice for everyday wear.
WHERE IS IOLITE FOUND IN THE WORLD?
Originally it was mined by the Vikings in Norway and Greenland, but can be found today in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India as well as Tanzania, Northwest Canada and Brazil. Some mining is done in USA and the largest ever found was in Wyoming (an eyewatering 24,000 carats). The fact that it is a Pleochroic stone can make the cutting of the gemstone partiuclarly challenging and it requires a skilled cutter to make produce the right factets. It needs to be cut from the correct angle to ensure the true colour and producea stone with the very best tone possible.