Long ago, the Vikings used iolite lenses to shield their eyes from the sun’s rays, aiding their navigation of the seas. The name of this gemstone is taken from the Greek word “ios”, meaning violet.
Today, iolite is mined in India, Sri Lanka, Africa and Brazil. It can easily be obtained in sizes up to 4 to 5 carats, although much larger gems have been found. Iolite is commonly cut into traditional shapes, and its most desirable color is a rich violet-blue.
While less popular than its blue counter-parts sapphire and tanzanite, iolite is gaining popularity for its beauty and affordability. As a relatively hard gemstone, iolite can be worn every day with minimal care. To clean iolite jewelry at home, let the pieces soak in a solution of warm water and a mild dish detergent, and scrub the stone with a soft brush. Let dry on a soft cloth. Like all fine jewelry, iolite should be removed before sleeping.