Iolite gets its name from the Greek ios, which means violet. Iolite is also known as the Viking’s compass or Viking’s stone. According to ancient Scandinavian sagas, Norse navigators would look through thin pieces of iolite formed into a lens as the first polarizing filter. This lens would help them on overcast days to determine the suns position, and to allow them to navigate their boats safely. Iolite has a violet blue color and is sometimes called referred to as water sapphire. Over the years iolite has become more popular in jewelry, but is still not as popular or well known as many other colored gemstones.

It is common in iolite to see three different color shades in one stone, this is called pleochroism. Iolite is one of only a few gemstones that are trichroic. This effect often makes it challenging for the cutter to cut the gem at its best. If done correctly the violet-blue color will be most pronounced at the top of the faceted gem.


Iolite is mainly mined in India but can also be found in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Madagascar, the United States, and Brazil.

Properties, Treatments & Lab Created

Iolite is rated a 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale.

There are no known treatments to enhance iolite.