For buyers without an indepth knowledge of gemstones, iolite would seem to be quite similar to tanzanite and many people infact mistake iolite for tanzanite. Iolite stones are a gorgeous bluish violet color and lighter shades of iolite look similar to tanzanite. However, iolite is not tanzanite and has a beauty of it's own.
Gem quality iolite stones are not exactly cheap but they are priced much lower as compared to tanzanite gems. Here are a few important features and facts about the iolite gem stone.
(a) The iolite gemstone is quite durable and strong. It has a hardness 7 to 7.5 on the Moh's scale of hardness. This makes the iolite stone very suited for jewelry making. As far as durability of the gemstone is concerned, iolite is more durable than tanzanite.
(b) Iolite exhibits an important property called 'pleochroism'. You can observe this if you hold an iolite gem stone and view it from different sides. You will see different colors from different angles. From one side the iolite gemstone will look a rich bluish violet color and from the opposite side it could appear pale and almost colorless! As interesting as this phenomenon can be, it poses big hurdles for gemstone cutters. This is because the iolite stone needs to be cut at the perfect angle so that it shows it's best color from the top. This is the reason why only skilled craftsmen can bring the best out of an iolite gemstone.
(c) It is not very hard to find gem quality iolite stones in large sizes that can go up to 4 or 5 carats per piece. However these large iolite gemstones are getting to be rarer as demand increases. The rising prices of tanzanite is one reason for iolite gems getting to be expensive too.
(d) There is an interesting fact about iolite stones and that concerns the price of the gemstone. We already mentioned above that iolite is more durable as compared to tanzanite. This means that iolite gem stone jewelry has better longterm durability as compared to tanzanite jewelry. Why then is iolite cheaper than tanzanite? The reason is that tanzanite was introduced to the jewelry world with a mind boggling marketing blitz. This was what initially led to the price rise of tanzanite gems. Subsequently, a natural disaster in the main tanzanite mines at Tanzania reduced the output of tanzanite and further pushed up prices. However, the marketing hype that brought Tanzanite to the gemstone trade is still believed to be the main reason for the high price of tanzanite gems.
(e) The iolite gemstone is also referred to as the 'gemstone of the Vikings' and this has an interesting story attached to it. It is believed that the gemstone was used by the Vikings to help them navigate the high seas. The Vikings made use of the iolite stone to point them towards the sun. This was very important especially when they were far off from the coast and the sky was overcast with clouds.
You can read the complete report on iolite gemstones and see a few images of the gemstone in our newsletter at:
This article was posted on Aug 5, 2005
About The Author
Ms.Tuk is senior executive at http://www.kaisilver.com which is the world's leading online provider of high end custom jewelry. All jewelry is custom made in white or yellow gold with gemstones of your choice. You can even send in images of your favourite designs to be custom made.
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