Iolite is the gemstone variety of a mineral call cordierite. Its name is derived from the Greek io, which means “violet flower.” The gem is known not only for its deep purple or blue color but for a quality called pleochroism, which means it changes color depending on the angle at which it is viewed. In the case of the iolite gemstone, the color ranges from purple to a pale gray-yellow or colorless. This article we will discuss the many characteristics and uses of iolite.

General Information about Iolite

unpolished iolite gemstone

Iolite is a type of magnesium aluminum silicate with a chemical formula of (Mg,Fe)2Al4Si5O18. It is a durable if brittle gem and has poor cleavage. If the stone is cut and polished it is most often formed into a step cut. However, iolite can also polished into beads or cabochons, which are unfaceted domes with flat backs. Other popular cuts are the Princess cut, the round cut and the football-shaped marquise cut.

The trick to cutting an iolite gemstone is to orient the stone in a way that brings out its pleochroism. Most gem cutters cut the stone so that the deep purple or blue is seen through the table, or the top of the gem.

Like most gems, the best quality iolite gemstone is flawless, but it usually comes with inclusions, or impurities. These impurities are most likely to be red. If they are numerous, the stone is called bloodshot iolite.

Physical Properties of Iolite

Alternate Names

Iolite is also called the water sapphire because some stones resemble violet sapphires. Another name is dichroite, Greek for a “rock with two colors” because of is pleochroism. Viking’s compass is another moniker, as historians believed that the Vikings used it as a lens to find the exact position of the sun. Blue iolite gemstone is also called steinheilite in honor of a Russian military governor who discovered that it was not the same mineral as quartz.


The cordierite variety of this stone is used in science and industry. Even today it is used in heating devices and as an electrical insulator, and synthetic cordierite is used in catalytic converters. Praseolite is a type of iolite gemstone made by heat treatment.


Iolite has a hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. The hardest material on the scale is the diamond, which is a 10.


Iolite has a vitreous, or glassy luster.


The colors range from purple, dark blue, grayish blue, yellow to clear, often in the same stone.

Refractive Index

The refractive index, which measures how the gem bends light, is 1.5.

Relative density

The relative density of iolite is 2.53 to 2.65, which means it will sink in water.

Crystal Group

Iolite is an orthorhombic type of crystal. It either has three two-fold axes that are perpendicular to each other or one two-fold axis at the intersection of two planes that are perpendicular to each other.


The gemstone has poor cleavage, which means there isn’t a certain direction where it can be neatly cut. Consequently, cutting iolite is a challenge for a gem cutter.


A fracture describes how the iolite gemstone breaks when it is simply smashed with a tool such as a mallet. Iolite’s fracture is subconchoidal, which means its fractures resemble seashells.


The gem is either transparent, which means a person can be seen all the way through it to the other side or translucent. Translucent means light passes through it.

Metaphysical Details about Iolite

iolite gemstones

Iolite is a stone that enables the third eye, which makes it a vision stone. It bestows insight and visualization when all of the chakras are in alignment. It is used during shamanic ceremonies and helps a person during out of body experiences to contact their auric field. Iolite has a charge that reinvigorates this field.

Iolite helps the person realize their true self and free themselves from the expectations of other people. It aids in understanding the causes of addiction and frees a person from addiction. Iolite heals discord within relationships, especially with respect to unhealthy co-dependency. It allows the user to take responsibility for their own actions.

When it comes to healing, iolite supports a strong constitution by helping to reduce unnecessary fat deposits. It alleviates the effects of alcohol consumption and helps the liver regenerate and purge itself of toxins. Iolite is used to help heal malaria and other types of fevers. What’s more, it kills bacteria, eases the pain of migraine headaches and supports the respiratory system, the pituitary gland and the sinuses.

How to Wear It

iolite jewelry

As a healing stone, iolite should be placed on the third eye when all of the other chakras are in alignment. As a gemstone, it can be worn in earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces.

Because iolite has such poor cleavage, it needs to be stored carefully and protected from knocks and heat. Place the pieces of jewelry in their own felt or velvet lined compartment or in their own velvet pouch. If a piece needs to be cleaned, clean with a white cloth dipped in some distilled water, and let it air dry. Don’t use harsh chemicals or ultrasonic cleaners with iolite.

Where Can Iolite Be Found?

Iolite is a quite common mineral and is found around deposits of aluminous rocks, schists, hornfeldses, gneisses as well as some igneous rocks such a granite. Minerals that are often found with it include quartz and spinel.

Good deposits of iolite gemstone are found in South America, Burma, Canada, India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Norway, Sweden and the United States. It’s also easy to find iolite in any store that sells healing crystals and is not expensive.

Summing Up

Iolite is a beautiful but common stone that is often substituted for the far more expensive sapphire. Its ability to change color makes it especially fascinating. If you own a iolite gemstone leave us your impressions below.

Image Source: 1, 2, 3