Iolite is also known by the mineral name Cordeirite after the French Mineralogist who first described it in 1809. The name Iolite comes from the Greek ios meaning violet. Iolite is a complex magnesium aluminium silicate with traces of ferric/ferous iron and manganese.
Iolite is typically a soft violet blue colour with unusual pleochroic properties, meaning that it displays different colours when viewed from different angles.Iolite will display a light blue and yellow grey in addition to its dominant hue of violet blue. The value of Iolite depends on the violet blue coloration, the richer the blue the better.
Iolite is found in Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Australia's Northern Territory, Namibia, Brazil, Tanzania, Madagascar, Connecticut and the North West Territories of Canada. Geologist Dan Hausel found Iolite deposits in Wyoming. These are some of the largest deposits in the world. One Iolite that he recovered weighed in at more than 24,000 carats, the largest ever found in the world.
When Lief Eriksson and other legendary Viking explorers ventured far out into the Atlantic Ocean, they had one secret weapon - Iolite. The Viking mariners used thin pieces of it as the world's first polarising filter. Looking through an Iolite lens, they were able to determine the exact position of the sun, and navigate their way safely to the New World and back.
Here are some gorgeous examples of Iolite jewellery from some members of the JET team: