by Mary Beth Magee
Iolites are blue or violet crystals resembling sapphires. These beauties are the little-known treasures of the gem world. Iolite is beautiful when set into both formal and casual jewelry, and its affordability makes it available to all jewelry lovers. The most common settings for iolite jewelry are silver and white gold, which complement the violets and blues of the gem. Pretty iolite jewelry may also incorporate other complementary gemstones, including aquamarines, amethysts or topaz. Iolite stones set in gemstone jewelry are a beautiful addition to any outfit.
Colors: Iolite is available in a range of jewelry selections and hues. Iolite presents a challenge to gem cutters because it has the property of displaying completely different colors depending on the angle of view. A single stone can offer deep blue, pale violet and yellow hues with a slight shift of perspective. Gem cutters must discover and create the best angle of presentation for the gemstone jewelry they are creating. Deep blue is the most desirable iolite shade and can be brought out with the perfect cut. Faceted cuts, known as brilliant cuts, predominate in iolite jewelry. These shapes allow the most light to stream through the stone and show its many hues.
History: Iolite is mined on nearly every continent and is especially prevalent in India. Though iolite is not a recognized birthstone, it is a traditional gift for the 21st wedding anniversary. Iolite is considered to be one of the first gems used as a compass. Viking seamen used thinly cut iolite gems to navigate the ocean by determining the position of the sun through the process of polarization.
Care: Iolite gems show well in pendants and earrings, and they are also stunning enough to stand alone in ring settings. Keeping your iolite jewelry clean will help it to sparkle and shine. Warm soapy water and a soft brush are perfect for cleaning iolite, as household chemicals can be too harsh for the gem. Iolite is a fairly hard gemstone, but be sure to protect your iolite jewelry investment by caring for it thoughtfully. Treat iolites as carefully as you treat your other gemstones.