Iolite, the beautiful “Viking’s Compass” 💎
This blue to violet mineral is called Cordierite after the French geologist Cordier discovered it in 1813 but when transparent and of high clarity, Cordierite is used as a gemstone known as “Iolite”. The name Iolite stems from “ios”, the Greek word for violet.
Possibly the most interesting characteristic of this bright blue stone is its pleochroism. Pleochroism refers to the way light reflects off the surface of the stone so it appears to be different colours when looked at from different angles. Sapphire and Tanzanite, Iolite’s fellow blue gemstones, are two more examples of pleochroic gemstones.
It is said that the Vikings used thin slices of Iolite as a light polariser to navigate their trips. By observing the sky through Iolite, they were able to locate the exact position of the sun on overcast days, because Iolite cancels out haze, mist and clouds to make things appear clearer. Hence its name the “Viking’s Compass.”
Iolite was very popular in 18th century European jewellery but is used infrequently these days although it is a reasonably priced gem and can be a less expensive substitute for Sapphire.
Iolite is used to commemorate the 21st wedding anniversary and is also said to enhance curiosity and achievement, bring friendliness and purer thoughts and promote charity and helpfulness.
The stone is found in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India, Namibia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, the USA, Canada, Germany, Norway and Finland, Madagascar and Brazil.