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Iolite Properties, Facts and Photos

faceted iolite gemstone

What is Iolite?

Iolite, which is the gemstone variety of the mineral cordierite, is 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 tanzanite both exhibit pleochroism with colour change that's often very easy to see.

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

The finest-grade gemstones can easily be mistaken for blue sapphire or tanzanite. Iolite however is more readily available, so it's far more affordable.

Iolite has never been widely marketed and hence remains relatively unknown. This may well be because of its tendency to break. Although it grades 7 to 7.5 on the 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, while toughness, also known as tenacity, refers to a mineral's resistance to cracking, chipping, pressure or breaking. 

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

Although its colour can vary, iolite is best known as a blue to bluish-violet coloured gemstone. Unlike tanzanite and blue sapphire, which are routinely heated, the colour of iolite is almost always natural.

Heat can interfere with a stone's chemical composition which can enhance or change the colour 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 and 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 a stone 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 visualize goals, desires, and aspirations, which can support manifestation practices and aid in bringing intentions into reality.

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