April 10, 2014

I Is for Iolite

At various stages of my life, I have developed an unexpected interest in some aspect of the universe. Cooking, NASCAR, gardening, massage therapy, editing, and gemology — you name it. When this happens, first I buy a book. Then, maybe some more books. And if I still remained interested, or the subject matter warranted, I signed up for a course. So, I am a certified massage technician and took courses at Berkeley Publishing Program for copy editing.

It was gemology, however, that really piqued my interest. So much so that I enrolled at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and eventually ended up with a Graduate Gemologist diploma (G.G.)

I love gemstones! Especially the colored stuff. I know that diamonds get all the press, and they really are fascinating once you get into them, but it's the colored stones that capture my attention. They are beautiful to look at in jewelry, can enhance and compliment your wardrobe, and are fascinating to view under a microscope. Seriously, the inclusions are varied and so beautiful. If your jeweler has a binocular microscope, ask him to demonstrate a couple of stones under magnification.

L/R: Iolite rough specimen, cut stone
One of my favorite gemstones is Iolite, a soft purplish-blue gem that works well with most metals. Commercial grade Iolite often has a steely blue-gray or washed-out blue color, and some are so dark they are almost black, but the best specimens can rival top-quality tanzanite in the saturation of their blue-violet hue.

In addition to its beautiful color, Iolite is known for a property called pleochroism, which causes different colors to appear when the stone is seen through different positions. Usually, Iolite is cut to appear violet-blue or indigo, but viewed in different positions, the color may shift to a yellow-gray or honey color, and even to a clear, light blue.

Iolite is relatively hard (7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale) so is suitable for regular wear, but should be protected from blows as the crystal configuration makes the gemstone subject to cleaving. Readily available and surprisingly affordable, Iolite is mined in India, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Australia, Canada, and Brazil, among other locations.

Definitely put this on your "check it out" list the next time you go looking for a new piece of jewelry.


A lot of people have wonderful structured themes for this challenge. Me, I'm going with Random Girl. Hey, my life doesn't have a theme, so why should my blog?

And make sure you check out Blogging from A to Z . There are over 2,000 participants in this years's challenge. Whatever your particular enthusiasm, you are sure to find something to pique your interest.

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  1. very pretty stone, I actually have never heard of it, and had to look it up in my Gemstone properties book, did you know it is also used in shamanic ceremonies and is said to release the causes for addiction. Very interesting stone indeed. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Claudia -- There is a lot to know about this particular gemstone, including practical uses. Because of its pleochroic properties, it was also used by Norse sailors as a navigational tool.

  2. I'd never heard of Iolite....thanks for sharing!

    Donna B. McNicol
    A to Z Participant

  3. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post, I am always trying to collect various information on different gems stones. Recently I am trying to collect some information on natural tanzanite stone.