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Iolite is a variety of the mineral cordierite. This mineral was named after French geologist Cordier. The name iolite comes from ios, the Greek word for violet. Iolite is commonly known as "water sapphire" in its deep blue sapphire color. Like sapphire and tanzanite, its fellow blue gemstones, iolite is pleochroic- meaning it transmits light differently when viewed from different directions. The Vikings made iolite's pleochroism a virtue by using thin slices of the stone as a light polarizer to navigate their trips. By observing the sky through iolites, the Viking navigators were able to locate the exact position of the sun on overcast days. Iolite does what a Polaroid does- it cancels out haze, mist, and clouds to make things appear clearer. In fact, the stone has been called the "Viking's Compass." Only officially named in 1912, iolite has been used and admired for centuries. It was very popular in jewelry in the 18th Century in Europe.