Where the world comes to find out all about Topaz
What is Topaz
Topaz is a mineral principally composed of fluorine aluminium silicate. Pure Topaz is colorless but with the addition of various impurities it becomes a gemstone of many colors including wine, yellow, pale gray or reddish-orange, blue brown, green, blue, light blue, red and even pink. Its hardness is 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness where a diamond is at ten and talc at 1. So it is a fairly hard gemstone. It can be brittle however and care is needed when cutting it. The right cleavage must be found before cutting can commence otherwise one can end up with small shards of almost worthless topaz.
Some of the more striking topaz colors are:
Orange Topaz. This is also known as precious topaz and is the birthstone for November as well as the symbol for friendship, and the state gemstone for the US State of Utah, USA.
Imperial Topaz is yellow, or orange pink and, rarely, pink. The Brazilian Imperial Topaz can very often be found as a bright yellow to deep golden brown hue, sometimes even violet. However, it should be noted that many brown or pale topazes are treated to make them bright yellow, gold, pink or violet colored and some imperial topaz stones will fade on exposure to sunlight for an extended period of time.More on Imperial Topaz below.
Blue Topaz, the Texas state gemstone is usually a heat treated topaz as the naturally occurring Blue Topaz is very rare. For this the colorless, gray or pale yellow and blue material is used and heat treated and irradiated in order to produce a more desired darker blue.
The Mystic Topaz is a colorless topaz which has been artificially coated to give it a desired rainbow effect.
Topaz has been around for at least 2000 years and possibly more. It is though that the name topaz originates from the Greek 'topazos' meaning 'green gemstone'. The Romans used Topaz in their jewelery also and dedicated the stone to the god Jupiter.
The most common topaz is yellow. This is the topaz you will find in the major German gemstone rocks, also called the Schneckenstein , a topaz-bearing rock said to resemble a snail, hence the name, in Saxony. But these topaz gems are usually very small. Larger ones are found in Siberia and brazil where they have been known to be up to the size of a small fist. Care should be taken with topaz from Siberia however. It has a reputation for fading after a period of time. One should always check the origin of topaz before one buys it.
Some names of and for topaz:
Other names are designated to differentiate various types of topaz:
Precious Topaz - used to distinguish topaz from cheaper fakes, such as citrine
Imperial Topaz - lustrous orange-yellow to orange-brown variety of topaz
Silver Topaz - colorless topaz
Sherry Topaz - orange-brown topaz
London Blue Topaz - deep blue topaz (the deepest blue form of topaz)
Swiss Blue Topaz - deep blue topaz (not as deep blue as London blue topaz)
Paraiba Topaz - sea-green topaz
Brazilian Aquamarine - False name given to aquamarine
Nerchinsk Aquamarine - False name given to aquamarinev
Brazilian Ruby - False name given to pink topaz
Brazilian Sapphire - False name given to blue topaz (as well as blue tourmaline)
Hyacinth is an orange-yellow to yellow-brown variety of topaz. Although the name hyacinth usually is used to describe a gem variety of zircon of that color, it is also occasionally used for topaz (in old manuscripts).
Pyncite is occasionally used to describe a pale yellow topaz.
There are also some false names for topaz and one should be careful as these are not actual topaz. But are in fact Citrine.
Citrine is a yellow to brown variety of quartz that closely resembles Topaz of the same color. Unfortunately, unscrupulous dealers have adapted false name for Citrine so the unaware buyer thinks he is buying the more valuable Topaz. Any "Topaz" labeled with a prefix name (excluding those in the variety section of this page and the other names discussed below) is heat-treated Citrine. Some of the false names used are:
Several other false topaz names are:
Brazilian Topaz - yellow to yellow-brown sapphire
Indian Topaz - yellow to yellow-brown sapphire
King Topaz - yellow to yellow-brown sapphire
Oriental Topaz - yellow to yellow-brown sapphire
Smoky Topaz - unscrupulous name for cut smoky quartz
Star Topaz - yellow star sapphire
None of which are topaz of course.
In any dealings about topaz one should inquire as to the origin, as well as the size, cut and quality of the topaz stone. Also get a guarantee that it IS a topaz and NOT a citrine.
Physical Characteristics of Topaz
The gem topaz is taken from silicate minerals whose main components are aluminum and fluorine. In its natural state, topaz is colorless and transparent. Whatever color is visible in the stone is due to impurities in its composition. The common colors found in topaz are pale shades of yellow, grey, orange and blue. These colors may be combined in various ways in nature. Topaz is also usually treated to achieve a certain shade of color. Imperial topaz can be yellow, pink or orange-pink. In the natural state, pink is very rare.
Topaz has a hardness of 8 in Mohs' scale of mineral hardness. It is one step harder than quartz and one step softer than corundum. On the other hand, topaz is also extremely brittle as a result of its crystalline structure. Therefore craftsmen have to exercise great care when cutting and setting the stone.
Main source of imperial topaz
The chief source of natural imperial topaz in the world is Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The term "imperial topaz" is said to have been invented in Russia during the 19th century to denote the species of pink stones that were reserved for the Russian royalty. The name "imperial topaz" was used by miners at Ouro Preto to distinguish their topaz from similarly colored quartz stones which abounded in the same area. Their topaz stones were typically orange to pinkish purple in hue. Also the use of the term was meant, as in Russia previously, to honor the Brazilian monarchy. Pink topaz is occasionally mined in Pakistan. Other countries which mine topaz are Russia, Myanmar, Australia, Sri Lanka, Tasmania and Mexico. Currently, there are Russian varieties of topaz that have a acquired a notoriety for getting discolored or fading under exposure to sunlight.
Natural and Artificial Colors
The golden pink range of color found in imperial topaz is found naturally in ore deposits. Alternatively, some gem manufacturers use a technique called "color deposition" to coat the underside of the transparent gem with a extra-thin film of color so that upon viewing the topaz from the right side, it will seem to be an imperial topaz. With a discerning eye you can detect the thin film on the reverse side. The surface will look like a film of rainbow spots. The stone is no longer completely transparent on its bottom side.
Natural or not, an imperial topaz possesses the same metaphysical powers ... if you believe in the mystic power of stones. However, the price should not be the same for both. If you are buying a loose stone, you need only examine the underside with a loupe (borrow one from the vendor) to find out if it has been treated. The situation is different with stones already in a setting, particularly if the metal at the base of the stone is solid. Then you will have to inquire from the vendor about the details of the stone. Alternatively, you should ask to examine the papers of the jewelry (since they will belong to you anyway if you do buy the item). In case the vendor can supply none, its best to refrain from buying.
Carefully selected resources
The importance of trusted and trustworthy resources for your imperial topaz is very important. On the internet you will find a number of sites dealing in topazes. You will also find shop-for-anything websites where imperial topaz jewelry will be catalogued. Usually these stores will feature a customer comment section where you may get some leads as to which gem manufacturing companies have the most reliable products and friendliest business practices.
The proper care of the imperial topaz
Like all other gem stones, extremes of temperature, especially in short succession, can crack the imperial topaz. Exposure to sunlight will make the color of your gem to fade after a considerable length of time. Harsh chemicals may affect the brilliance of the stone. As a rule, never use your jewelry if you are doing dirty and rough work. If you do need to clean the stone, immerse it in a warm and mild detergent solution. After a few minutes, apply a brush very softly to places where dirt can lodge in. After rinsing the jewelry, wipe it dry.
Because imperial topaz is a very hard stone, it is also very brittle. Take care not to knock the gem against anything that may cause it to crack because if it does, it usually goes all the way.
The mystical properties of imperial topaz
Because topaz is a crystal, it has vibrational properties as do other gem stones. The crystalline structure of imperial topaz is said to be such as to encourage self-confidence and inner enlightenment. In this connection, it allows the wearer to calm down frenzied people. It attracts the respect, love and admiration of others. It also protects from psychic evils and unexpected disasters. If worn with a tiger's eye, it bestows wealth.
Physically, it enhances the appetite and stimulates the life energy. That considered, it wouldn't be a bad idea at all to possess an imperial topaz.
In the Mohs scale of hardness topaz occupies position 8, two steps below the diamond and just below the corundum. Besides being one of the hardest gem stones, topaz does not have any peculiar sensitivity to chemicals. One disadvantage that it shares with other hard gem stones is its tendency to crack from side to side rather than just to chip upon impact.
Topaz gem stones can come in various shades of color. Although the crystal is naturally colorless, its coloration comes from impurities in its basic composition or substances that have infiltrated its crystal formation. Some of the colors in which it comes are blue, red, greenish-yellow, yellow, lavender, pink and shades of orange and brown.
Sources of topaz
Most of the topazes, including the gem quality topazes, that we have in the world today come from Minas Gerais, Brazil. In fact, Brazil is noted for producing many of the rarer types of topazes, like the imperial topaz and the blue topaz. It is claimed that Brazil is the only producer of true imperial topaz, although many of its blue topazes are color-treated. Most of their pink topazes are also created by heating sherry-colored topaz.
Mexico produces pale pink topazes. But the deeply colored ones that are mined from there are known to fade very fast under sunlight.
Sri Lankan topaz is generally colorless to pale yellow or pale green.
Other resources for topaz are Russia, Nigeria, Myanmar and Australia.
Enhancements of topaz
Because topaz make very good gem stones and also because they most often come naturally colorless or with pale shades, many methods have been devised to enhance these colors.
An old method of creating blue topaz is bombardment of the stone with gamma rays. This method only produced pale blue topazes and has been abandoned in favor of better ones. The only use gamma ray bombardment has today is to determine whether the way the stone was cut makes it susceptible to the more effective means of coloration (by turning a light blue color).
The more effective manner of turning the topaz blue is to expose it to an intense electron beam. This procedure produces deeper blues that are not highlighted with grey. Because of the intensity of the electron beam, stones treated in this way need to be incubated for a week or so for the radiation to die down before they are available for setting or selling.
Alternatively neutrons may be used instead of electrons to bombard the topaz. In this case, the blue tint is darker or steely. To brighten the shade, the stone may be heated. Stones treated in this way will need to sit for even longer, sometimes several months before their radioactivity is zero.
Other shades of color can be produced by "color deposition" which involves putting an extremely thin layer of color on the wrong side of the stone. Any single or combination of colors may be used on the film to produce an imperial topaz, a blue topaz and topazes of various colors.
The importance of gem papers
Obviously, because the colors of topaz are so easily simulated ... and simulated with the ethical "go!" of the community of gemologists, anyone purchasing beautifully colored topaz jewelry should first inquire about the documents of the stone from the vendor. These will normally contain data about any enhancements performed on the stone. However, in the case of loose stones, the matter may be simpler to manage for colors other than blue. Simply inspect the underside of the stone with a loupe to detect any rainbow spotted film on it. This film is a coating of color and will render the bottom opaque instead of transparent.
Artificially coloring gemstones has been done for many, many years and is now considered acceptable practice. The reason why any buyer should check the authenticity of the color is to check if the price quoted for the topaz jewelry is reasonably lower (if enhanced).
The value of topaz in mystical terms
This November birthstone is reputed to bestow on the wearer the attributes of a king. Hence when we speak of topazes in the light of their being birthstones or amulets all of them are called imperial topazes. Inner light, self-confidence and authority, together with the ability to calm the emotions of others are some of the powers attributed to the topaz. It guards from unseen danger, curses and evil spirits. It invites the admiration of other people for the bearer of the jewelry. To the mind it gives enthusiasm, to the body, health and energy. Worn side by side with a tiger's eye, it blesses the owner with wealth.
How to Buy Topaz
When it comes to the kingdom of semi-precious gemstones, topaz is the king. The stone's color ranges from deep blue to sky blue, and its beauty is breathtaking. Of course, you probably knew that already. When it comes to buying jewelery, some people are left wondering: Where do I begin when you're looking for a beautiful topaz? First of all, you should think about price and quality. If you want to know how to buy topaz, it is important to know what you're looking for and how much your budget is going to be.
This begs the question: What do I need to know before buying topaz?
Topaz is the birthstone for December and quite possibly one of the most popular gemstones on the market. While topaz most often appears clear, flaws factor into its beauty. Impurities in topaz stones determine what color a stone will be, experts say. A lot of topaz jewelery sold by retail outlets has been color treated to beautify and enhance the stone's color. This helps minimize flaws and makes the stone look beautiful, so it is important to talk with jeweler before buying. He or she will be able to help you make an informed decision regarding your purchase.
However, flaws are not the only thing you will need to consider. If you know how to buy topaz, you can outwit salespeople and snag the very best deal.
While blue is the most common color of topaz, there are several other colors to choose from. Buying topaz can be tricky, especially when you are trying to coordinate an outfit. Choosing a color scheme can help. A pink topaz stone goes well with a light color, such as pink or yellow. In most cases, people buy topaz rings to go with every outfit. Many jewelery cases use special lighting to accentuate the colors of gemstones. This can make it difficult to determine the overall quality of the stone and make the right decision.
Topaz comes in colors of pink, yellow and green. What color the stone is will be determined by the minerals that created it.
Cut and clarity
Topaz comes in all shapes and sizes. If the stone is small, it can be hard to spot imperfections. It is easier to find inclusions in larger stones. This is why you should examine the stone outside of a display cabinet, before you buy. Hold it up to the light to spot inclusions. Also, look at the sides of the piece of jewelery, looking for any flaws in the stone's cut.
Another thing to consider before buying is price. Topaz stones set in sterling silver generally cost less than those that are set in gold. Before you buy topaz, it may help to browse online auction sites, such as ebay, to get a feel for what styles are out there. Topaz jewelery that features diamonds and other stones is usually more expensive, so it is best to shop around.
Knowing how to buy topaz will help you find the jewelery you want for the best possible price.