Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rock Review: Iolite

Is it violet, golden, gray, colorless? If you are looking at Iolite, the gem featured in today’s rock review, the answer is yes. Confused yet? Depending on the cut of the gem and the direction it’s viewed from, the fabulously unique Iolite can appear to be any one of these three colors due to a special trait called pleochroism, which means that it displays different colors in various directions of the gem structure. Iolite is a 7-7.5 on Moh’s scale or hardness making it a durable gem as well. It also can be easily maintained at home and only requires occasional cleaning with a mild soap solution and a toothbrush.
The distinctive pleochorism feature of the gem gave the ancient Vikings an advantage when it came to navigating the seas. They mined Iolite in Norway and Greenland and used thin slices as the world’s first polarizing filter lens to view the exact position of the sun and safely plot a course to distant lands and back home again. Today, Iolite can be found in India, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, the U.S.A. and Brazil. Cutting Iolite in a way that highlights it’s pleochroism in a visually pleasing color scheme is still a rewarding challenge for advanced gem cutters today. All cuts of Iolite speak to the skill of a gem cutter, and can be appreciated by collectors for talent required to produce its beauty. Deep violet or sapphire tones tend to be the most popular and valuable when it comes to jewelry or collectables today. Visit Layne Designs website to view some lovely Iolite jewelry that can be added to your collection!

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