Saturday, September 19, 2009

Iolite: Beautiful & Affordable Blue Gem

Do you love blue sapphires or tanzanite but they don't quite fit your budget? Consider iolite! This gemstone is probably not as well known or as often used as it deserves. It is the gem variety of the mineral cordierite.

Iolite Has very pronounced "pleochroism". That means that the color looks different when you look at it from different angles. Because of this property, the Vikings were able to use thin pieces of iolite to navigate, using it to determine the exact location of the sun even in bad conditions. The same stone can look violet- blue or yellowish-gray or even clear depending on how it is viewed. For that reason, it is very important that the stone be properly cut so that when it is viewed face up, you see the best color. Sometimes it is called "water sapphire", although the best colored specimens actually look more like fine tanzanite.

It is mined in Brazil, Sri Lanka and several locations in Africa. It's relative hardness and beautiful color make it a great jewelry stone. And the price is surprisingly affordable. A very nice stone can be had for under $10 per carat. If you dream of some day owning a large tanzanite, but you are still a few thousand dollars short, a nice iolite will make a good place holder in that ring setting for now.
You can see some more iolites here and some iolite earrings here.

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