Thursday, April 19, 2007


Like hundreds of others before me, when I saw my first Iolite I mistook it for a dark blue Sapphire. Fortunately, the dealer I was working with at the time corrected my error (not all will) and told me it was a less expensive, but no less beautiful gem known as Iolite.

Over the years Iolite has picked up a number of trade names. Water Sapphire, Lynx Sapphire, Cordierite and Dichroite. The crystal was first "described" (given a geological definition and it's chemical composition noted) by a French geologist, Pierre Louis Cordier in 1809. His definition and the stone's adopted the name Cordierite in 1813. However he is not credited with discovering the gemstone, just uncovering its geological description.

Its Greek name comes from the work io or ios which means violet. Lynx Sapphire normally refers to the darkest blue gems. However this crystal is found in yellow, brown, green and gray, as well as the pale to deep midnight blues.

Iolite is a fairly complex silicate (Quartz) of Magnesium and Aluminum, with Iron replacing the Magnesium in some crystals, giving those stones more density (heavier). Traces of Lime and Water are also found in the majority of the gems. Its abundance and hard nature have made Iolite a very popular gem in jewelry. With colors rich enough to rival the more expensive Sapphire and the fragile Tanzanite.

Amazingly enough, some of the finest quality Iolites (those that are cut for jewelry) are found as river gravel in the gem rich river bottoms of Ceylon. Sapphires, Carnelians, Topaz, Apatite, Zircon and a number of other highly sought after gems are also retrieved from these gravel beds.

Most Iolite deposits are found as a mass in Granite, metamorphosed clay rocks, and some igneous stones (from volcanic activity). The rare crystal that does form is rhombic or orthorhombic (diamond like prisms with rectangular sides) in structure and usually found in pegmatites. Some crystals have been found in Granite formations however they tend to not be gem quality.

A couple of counties in Connecticut have yielded some exceptional crystals from pegmatites, large enough to cut two plus carat gemstones from. Brazil, Finland, Tanzania, Namibia, Madagascar, India and Russia's Ural mountains all have excellent deposits. Iolite containing Hematite platelets has been found as large chunks in Sri Lanka and Norway.

Iolite or Cordierite may not have gotten into the geological reference books until the early 1800's, but it was a much appreciated and quite useful gemstone long before Cordier wrote his scientific description.

The Water Sapphire has a very unusual characteristic. It is dichroic or pleochroic meaning the crystal appears different colors at different angles (hence another of its names Dichorite). Ancient mariners utilized this to aid in their navigation, making Iolite a sort of crude compass. It may have been an Iolite slab that helped to guide the Vikings to the Newfoundland and back home again.

According to some references, Iolite is bluest when it is held 90 degrees from the Sun. Others state that it was used like polarized sunglasses to locate the Sun by looking through the crystal into the sky. Supposedly this worked even on cloudy days. Unfortunately I don't have pieces large enough to test either of these scenarios.

Iolite has a long history as a talisman for safe journeys and a reputation for calming rough seas among the earliest sailors.

Today it is a popular gemstone for those wanting to develop their psychic skills and natural intuition. Iolite gently activates the sixth Chakra, allowing you to learn the depth of your inner knowledge at the pace that is correct for you.

If you have difficulty with meditation, or need assistance with a vision quest, this crystal makes an excellent guide. You'll let go of your expectations and learn more quickly to be at ease with just being. Once you stop expecting, your spiritual vision will become clearer.

Work with Iolite if you need to bring more structure into your life. This crystal teaches the power of responsibility. Taking care of yourself is an act of self-respect; would you allow another of Mother's children to go uncared for? Iolite reminds you to respect and be responsible for the gift of life you were given.

This is a great stone is recommended for helping you to bring more balance to your masculine and feminine spiritual traits.

In the past Iolite has been used to treat diseases that bring on high fevers like malaria. It may also be used to eliminate the effect of drinking alcohol and may be beneficial in ridding the physical body of toxins. Individuals with liver problems may see some improvement working with this crystal.

No comments: