Long known as "water sapphire," this lovely blue gem has the steely hue of the ocean at dawn. Named from the Greek ios, or violet, iolite at its best is a rich violet blue that might remind you of better-known gems like tanzanite and sapphire. The 21st anniversary gem, iolite is still not well known, despite a long history.
When Leif Eriksson and the other legendary Viking explorers ventured far into the Atlantic, they relied on iolite. Looking through a naturally polarizing iolite lens, they could determine the exact position of the sun to navigate safely to the new world and back.
The property that made iolite so valuable to the Vikings is extreme pleochroism. Iolite has different colors in different directions in the crystal. A cube cut from iolite will be blue from one side, clear as water from the other, and a honey yellow from the top.
Pleochroism may be helpful for sailors but it makes things difficult for a gem cutter. If iolite is not cut from exactly the right direction, no matter the shape of the rough, its color will not show to its best advantage. Facets by Susong's iolite is carefully oriented to maximize its blue.
Iolite is durable and suitable for everyday wear. Clean with mild dish soap: use a toothbrush to scrub behind the gem where dust can collect.