Iolite is a relatively hard gemstone but also brittle. It can break very easily which makes cutting difficult.
Fine grade stones can be mistaken for blue sapphire or tanzanite. The colour of iolite however is usually completely natural.
The names "water sapphire" and "dichroite" have both been used in the past. Dichroite which means "two coloured rock" refers to iolite's strong pleochroism.
It has also been called the "Viking Compass". The Vikings are said to have used iolite as a polarizing filter to navigate the seas. By looking through a thin slice of the stone they were able to determine the precise position of the sun on overcast days.
Today when used for crystal healing iolite is said to enhance navigational skills. It's believed to make determining your precise location much easier and and help when necessary with directions and distances.