Published April 2018 • Updated July 2022 • Read Time: 7 minutes
Iolite is a gemology name for the mineral Cordierite. Most Cordierite is dull grey or brown, but on rare occasionally it forms fantastic blue-violet crystals. These crystals often demonstrate pleochroism, an optical phenomenon in which an object appears to be different colors depending on which angle it is observed from. Iolites appear blue from most angles, but can be yellow or orange when viewed just right. A skilled navigator can also use Iolite as a type of compass on cloudy days with remarkable accuracy. Iolite helps us to see clearly and to know the truth beyond the surface. Its energy opens the Third Eye and reveals our true path.
Iolite has a cool, calm energy that helps us to settle easily into meditation, channeling, intuitive reading, shamanic work and other visionary spiritual practices. It opens the Third Eye and strengthens our ability to communicate with other dimensions and realms. Iolite reveals our own path to us, showing us where we still need to grow and what we need to do to move past our current limitations and wounds. Iolite illuminates the lost parts of ourselves, helping us find the way back home to our True Self and to know our real calling in this lifetime.
Taurus, Libra and Sagittarius
Emotional Healing Properties
Iolite is a wonderful stone to work with whenever we have become so emotionally entwined and close to a situation that we can no longer see it clearly. It reminds us to take a step back and breathe deeply, and take time to re-ground ourselves. Once we are calm, we can then look at the situation again, this time from a clearer perspective of logic and compassion. Iolite asks us to stay focused on solutions and the realty of the situation, rather than being swept away by our own complex emotions. Iolite helps us stay grounded, yet also optimistic and hopeful. It counsels us to choose a path of peace and balance, within ourselves first of all, in our relationships next, and finally in all our interactions with the wider world. It invites us to enjoy each moment as it comes, and to ride the ups and downs of life with ease and grace.
Mental Healing Properties
Iolite balances logic and intuition, allowing our mind to understand the world around us on a much deeper level. It can also help us to better understand the promptings and desires of our own spirit and heart, and, with that understanding, to then chart a course forward. It can be used as a compass to help us find our own “North Star” – the guiding force in our lives. This can take the form of a career or vocation, as well as a personal moral philosophy. Iolite frees us from addictions and can help us become better at managing money.
Physical Healing Properties
Iolite is recommended for anyone developing healthy habits and rituals. It helps us to take a sensible and compassionate approach, balancing our “ideal” life with the realties of our current life. Iolite is especially good for developing habits connected to relaxation, such as bedtime habits and work/life balance. If we find ourselves depending on alcohol or other substances in order to relax, Iolite encourages us to question our habits and explore healthier alternatives. It is a wonderful talisman to keep near when physically and mentally recovering from an addiction. Iolite is also a powerful talisman to support the eyes and mental sharpness.
Iolite is the gemstone variety of the mineral Cordierite. The primary deposits for Iolite are located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Madagascar, Namibia, Norway, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and the United States. Additional Cordierite deposits have been found in Austria, Bolivia, Finland, Italy, and Russia.
Mining and Treatments
Iolite may occasionally be found in its primary deposit in igneous rocks, however it is more often mined as water-tumbled pebbles in secondary alluvial locations.
All Iolites are natural, enhanced only by cutting, tumbling, and polishing. Its color can rival Blue Sapphire, but at a much lower pricepoint, and so it is often used as a substitute stone in jewelry.
Iolite is the gemology name for the mineral Cordierite, a Cyclosilicate mineral. Silicates are minerals which contain the elements Silicon (a light gray shiny metal) and Oxygen (a colorless gas). Together, these two elements form a tetrahedron – a shape similar to a pyramid – with a Silicon atom in the center and Oxygen atoms at each of the four corners. These tetrahedra connect with other chemical structures, in six different ways, to form various minerals and rocks. One way the tetrahedra can connect is in circles, and it is to this group that Iolite belongs. Other famous minerals in the cyclosilicate group are
Iolite is typically created when fine-grained sedimentary rock, such as mudstone, is transformed into metamorphic rocks as a result of contact or regional metamorphism. Iolite can also be found on occasion in igneous rocks, particularly Granite. The opaque variety of this blue stone is more properly called Cordierite, and it is in fact a relatively common rock-forming mineral in metamorphic rocks. Most of the time, rough Cordierite’s appearance is unremarkable, a dull greenish-grey or yellow-brown, hiding the glossy blue interior. Only on rare occasions, when Iolite forms in igneous rocks, such as Granite, will bright transparent gemstones or gemstone clusters appear.
Iolite’s energy works well with its “friends” – crystal associates formed in the same geological environment. Try it in combination with Almandine Garnet
Short prismatic, grandular
Hardness – Mohs Scale
Red (short wave)
Transparent – Opaque
History of Iolite
Iolite is so similar in color to Sapphire that it was often mistaken for the precious gem. As such it was not recognized as a distinct mineral until relatively recently and was not included in early lapidaries, texts that describe gemstones and their powers. Iolite is the violet-blue transparent gemstone, of the mineral Cordierite. The mineral was named after the French geologist Pierre Louis Antoine Cordier (1777-1861), the founder of the French Geological Society. He first described the mineral in 1813, but did not immediately recognize that the dull mineral was chemically identical to the blue gemstone. The name Iolite comes from the Greek ion, meaning “violet.” Gem-quality crystals have extreme pleochroism, an optical phenomenon in which an object appears to be different colors depending on which angle it is observed from. A perfect cube of Iolite may look vivid blue on one side, clear as water from the opposite side, and golden yellow from the top! This play of color helps jewelers easily distinguish Iolite from the more expensive, solid blue colored Sapphire. During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, jewelers sometime called Iolite “Water Sapphire,” although the name has mostly fallen out of fashion.
Iolite is more famously nicknamed the “Viking Compass,” a title it shares with Sunstone and Icelandic Spar (a variety of Clear Calcite). According to the Nordic Sagas, the Vikings were able to navigate the foggy North Sea using a “sunstone,” a mineral with natural polarizing optical properties. Today, scientists and historians agree that the legendary Viking Sunstone really existed. Certain stones, Iolite and Icelandic Spar among them, can be used to determine the direction of the sun when it is just over the horizon or hidden by clouds. Light shining through a transparent crystal will change in color and brightness as the crystal is rotated. At one specific angle, the light appears in a faint elongated yellow pattern, called Haidinger’s Brush. This shape points directly towards the sun. In 2018, Hungarian scientists used computer simulations to test both Icelandic Spar and Iolite as navigational tools. After 36,000 trials they determined that Iolite could be used as a compass with 92-100% accuracy. Icelandic Spar isn’t quite as precise. White it is good enough to keep a general heading, it’s not accurate enough to reach a specific navigational point.
Julie Abouzelof is the owner of Moonrise Crystals and an advocate for responsibly sourced gems and minerals. Her first career was in education teaching history, geology and anthropology, as well as working with special-needs students. She is now a heart-centered entrepreneur who encourages mindfulness and positive action to heal ourselves and the world. Julie lives in Hawaii with her lover and a little parrot named Darwin.