Iolite/Cordierite Stone


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The iolite/cordierite, also known as “the water-sapphire” or “the Viking compass”, is a fine gemstone that changes its colors when viewed from different angles.

Fine iolite

1. History

Even if the iolite was mined and used a long time ago, not many things are known about its early history.

Its name comes from the Greek words “ios” for violet and “lithos” for stone. The iolite was also named “dichroite”, the Greek name for “two-colored rock”.

42.75ct raw iolite

42.75ct raw iolite

“The Viking compass” or “the Viking stone” names, comes from the iolite’s polarizing filter property, which can detect the sun light, even when is obscured by clouds or fog. Combined with the sun shadow board and other navigation instruments, the Norsemen were able to navigate great distances without getting lost.

In 1813, the stone is officially named cordierite, after the French geologist Pierre Louis Antoine Cordier, the man who first studied it.

Pierre Louis Antoine Cordier

Pierre Louis Antoine Cordier, in a portrait by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

2. Properties

These are the structural properties of the iolite:

  • Chemistry: Mg2Al4Si5O18
  • Crystallography: ortohorhombic- dipyramidal
  • Crystal habit: crystals short prismatic, granular to compact, massive
  • Hardness: 7.0-7.5
  • Density: 2.55-2.75
  • Luminescence: non-fluorescent
  • Luster: vitreous (glassy)

3.Inclusions

Pictures of inclusions in the stone:

“color” inclusion, trichroism intense – changing of color in different angles of view

 “color” inclusion, trichroism intense – changing of color in different angles of view

“red brown rutile crystals” inclusions

“red brown rutile crystals” inclusions

“mica” inclusion

“mica” inclusion

“hematite platelets” inclusions

“hematite platelets” inclusions

“pyrrhotite or magnetite” inclusion

“pyrrhotite or magnetite” inclusion

“rutile crystal” inclusion

“rutile crystal” inclusion

4. Color

The iolite color range is typically from light to dark blue or violet-blue:

 Shape

5. Prices

Prices for the iolite stone vary greatly according to size, quality and occurrence:

1 ct. colorless, rare, poor quality  –  $32.59
1 ct. dark Blue, common, best quality  –  $65.42
4 ct. light violetish Blue, common, poor quality  –  $118.12
4 ct. medium violetish Blue, common, best quality  –  $559.41
7 ct. medium light violetish Blue, common, poor quality  –  $364.26
7 ct. dark Blue, common, best quality  –  $1,041.04
10 ct. medium violetish Blue, common, poor quality  –  $802.43
10 ct. colorless, rare, best quality  –  $2,938.59
12 ct. dark blue, common, poor quality  –  $844.72
12 ct. light violetish Blue, common, best quality  –  $2,237.20
The iolite can be found in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, India, Namibia, Tanzania, the United States, Zimbabwe and Brazil.