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Iolite Properties, Facts and Photos

faceted iolite gemstone

What is Iolite?

Iolite is the gemstone variety of the mineral cordierite.  It's translucent to transparent with a blue to bluish-violet colour.

The colour of iolite is often compared to sapphire but has more of a purple tint.

One of its most notable characteristics is pleochroism.  Pleochroism  is an optical phenomenon that enables a rock, mineral or gemstone to exhibit different colours when viewed from different angles.

Iolite was once known as dichroite which means two-coloured rock.

Although many gemstones are pleochroic most have such minimal colour change that it's almost unnoticeable.

Cordierite and the mineral tanzanite both exhibit pleochroism with colour change that is often very easy to see.

Depending on the type of light, the angle from which the stone is being viewed and its colour, iolite can look violet, blue, bluish grey, green, yellow or can even look colourless.

The finest grade of iolite can be mistaken for blue sapphire or tanzanite.  Being more readily available means it's far more affordable.

Iolite has never been widely marketed hence remains relatively unknown.  This may well be because of its tendency to break.

Although iolite grades 7 to 7.5 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness which makes it quite hard, it's not particularly tough.  Hardness and toughness in rocks and minerals is not the same.

Hardness refers to the ability of one mineral to scratch another whilst toughness also known as 'tenacity' refers to its resistance to cracking, chipping, pressure or breaking. 

Iolite has a perfect cleavage in one direction which means it can break easily as result of a knock, pressure or even an extreme change of temperature.  This makes cutting and polishing quite difficult.

Although its colour can vary, iolite is best known for being a blue to bluish-violet coloured gemstone.

Unlike tanzanite and blue sapphire both of which are routinely heated, the colour of iolite is almost always natural.

Heating interferes with a stone's chemical composition which can enhance or change the colour of a stone completely.

More Facts About Iolite

The mineral cordierite was named after French geologist Pierre Louis Antoine Cordier who first described it in 1809.

The gemstone iolite was officially classified and named in 1813.  It's widely believed to have been known and used in Sri Lanka long before then.

The name comes from the Greek word 'ios' meaning violet.  

Iolite can be found in several countries around the world including India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Myanmar.  It's believed to have been mined by the Vikings in Norway and Greenland.

In 1996 an iolite deposit was found in Wyoming in the USA.  Further discoveries were made in 2004 and 2005.

Iolite Healing Properties

Iolite is believed to clear unwanted thoughts and open intuition.  It helps release conflict and tension within a relationship by giving you the strength to take responsibility for yourself in order to become more independent.

It aligns with the third eye chakra which is associated with intuition, insight and inner wisdom.

Iolite can guide you towards a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.

Sleeping with iolite under your pillow can enhance dream recall and lucidity. It may also help you to interpret your dreams more accurately.

With iolite being connected to the third eye chakra it strengthens visualisation particularly when used for meditation.

Iolite improves the ability to visualise goals, desires and aspirations. This can support manifestation practices and aid in bringing intentions into reality.

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