The Vikings Compass: Iolite

Iolite, known as the Vikings’ Compass, due to its ability to determine the direction of the sun on overcast days. When the legendary Viking mariners sailed the wide ocean, they used thin pieces of iolite as the world’s first polarizing filter. Looking through an iolite lens, they could determine the exact position of the sun, by looking through the gemstone at a certain angle. Vikings never used to get lost on the high seas.

This stone is also called the stone of happiness and joy. It is believed to possess Feng Shui properties which help in building relationships with others. It cures a sore throat, varicose veins and various skin eruptions and blisters.

Iolite Rough


  • Power
  • Leadership
  • Self-confidence
  • Inner strength


  • Chakras – Third Eye Chakra
  • Zodiac – Taurus, Libra, Sagittarius
  • Colors – Yellow-brown, Violet-blue, Light Blue, Blue, Rich blue-violet stone; Transparent to Translucent
  • Iolite is a 21st Anniversary gemstone.
  • Iolite is also known as Cordierite and Water Sapphire.
Iolite Gem 3

Iolite is a vision stone.  It clears thought forms, opening intuition.  Aids in understanding and releasing the causes of addiction.  Helps you to express your true self, free from the expectations of others.  Iolite releases discord within relationships.  It encourages taking responsibility for yourself, overcoming codependency within your partnership.

Iolite creates a strong constitution, ridding the body of fatty deposits.  It diminishes the effect of alcohol and supports detoxification and regeneration of the liver.  Treats malaria and fevers, and kills bacteria.  Iolite aids the pituitary, sinuses and respiratory system.  Alleviates migraines.

The name’s origin: The name Iolite is derived from the Greek “los”, meaning violet.

Description: Mg2Al3O Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Iolite is a blue silicate mineral that occurs as crystals or grains in igneous rocks, only as a result of contamination of the magma by a luminous sediment.

Iolite has a pleasing color of blue, but a rather extraordinary optical property. The gemstone changes colors depending upon which angle it is viewed from.



  • CHEMISTRY: (Mg, Fe2) Al4Si5O18
  • CRYSTALLOGRAPHY: Orthorhombic
  • REFRACTIVE INDEX: 1.522 – 1.578
  • HARDNESS: 7 – 7.5
  • SPECIFIC GRAVITY: 2.53 – 2.78
  • CLEAVAGE: Distinct 1 direction
  • WEARABILITY*: Very Good

*Wearability is graded as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Poor, and Forget It!

Varieties: The stones from the gem gravels of Sri Lanka have been called water sapphires due to the blue-violet color.

Iolite is sometimes called dichroite because of its marked pleochroism: different colored light is transmitted in different directions.

The natural mineral has a little commercial use. When clear, iolite is cut as a gem.

Synthetic magnesium iolite has a low thermal expansion and is used as a semi-refractory material because of its resistance to thermal shock.

Best Used As: Iolite Necklaces and pendants. (Wear better than iolite rings.)

Iolite is commonly cut into traditional shapes, and its most desirable color is a rich violet-blue. Iolite shows many colors in a single stone. It is very important to look at an iolite from several directions before you purchase because the stone presents very different colors from different angles. If cut properly the stone shows its best blue color through the top of the stone. But viewed from another angle the stone may appear colorless.

The price of iolites about the same as of nice amethysts in a good color. This pleasing violet gemstone is gaining widespread popularity for its beauty and its attractive affordability.

Deposits: Most of the Iolite available today comes from Sri Lanka, Burma, India, Madagascar, and Brazil. Precambrian deposits of the Laramie Range,(Wyoming, USA), contain more than 500,000 tons of Iolite.


This stone, which represents one of the few relatively available and affordable blue stone options, is rapidly gaining in popularity. Arguably the gain is due more to exposure in mail order catalogs and on cable shopping channels than to promotion by traditional jewelry stores. Run of the millstones often have a steely, inky or washed out blue color, but the best specimens can rival AAA tanzanite in the saturation of their blue-violet hue.Iolite is frequently step cut to enhance color and often windowed and/or shallow cut to lighten the tone. The cutter must orient the rough carefully, taking iolite’s trichroism of blue, gray and near colorless into account. So far, no treatments have been successfully used to lighten color or to remove inclusions so one can assume that gems are untreated.

Iolite possesses pleochroism, showing off different colors when viewed from different angles and sides. This excellent quality is sometimes a hindrance in cutting. It needs to be handled with an expert to make sure of the best color to be shown when viewed from above.

Its hardness of 7-7.5 makes it a suitable jewelry stone, though the presence of cleavage must be taken into account and some care exercised. Most of the iolite in world commerce comes from India, but substantial amounts are also mined in Tanzania, Brazil, and Sri Lanka.



Sinkankas lists the wholesale value of fine blue violet stones in the 1 to 5 karat range as $60 to $80 per karat and $100 to $150 per karat for stones 5 to 10 ct. He also notes that stones larger than 8 karats are rarely eyed clean. Federman is more conservative, listing retail values as $100 and $150 per karat, respectively, for those size ranges. Writing in 1990 he reports that German cutters have been buying iolite rough in quantity to capitalize on an expected surge in popularity and price.

Source: The Vikings Compass: Iolite

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