Posted on November 03 2019
The yellow Topaz is not only the birthstone for November babies but for some, its reign continues into the following month, in regal blue. Though as a gem, it is completely colourless. The impurities inside it lend it a vast range of hues, beyond honey yellow and fiery orange, to cyclamen pink and icy blue.
Where is Topaz from?
In its traditionally most popular yellow form, the ancient Egyptians believed that topaz was coloured by the golden glow of the sun — it was also associated with Jupiter, the Roman god of the sun. The Greeks, meanwhile, believed that it had the power to increase strength, and made its wearer invisible to avoid danger. When worn as a necklace, topaz was once thought to drive away sadness and strengthen one’s intellect.
For over 2,000 years, the gemstone was believed to only be yellow, until mineralogists realised that it could be found in a large range of colours. Some say its name originated from the small Red Sea island Topazios, though there is no record of topaz being produced there. Others believe the origin of its name comes from the Sanskrit word tapas, meaning fire.
The stone was said to change its colour in the presence of poisoned food or drink, and when reduced to powder and put in wine, it was considered to be a cure for a wide range of conditions, including insomnia, asthma, burns and even haemorrhage.
Pink topaz was found for the first time in Russia, In the nineteenth century, and was so coveted that its possession was limited to only the Tsar, his family and anyone he gifted it to.
One of the most well-known regal examples of topaz is a 1,680-ct colourless stone that resides in the Portuguese crown. This was originally thought to be the biggest diamond ever found, until its true identity was discovered.
Topaz is associated with loyalty, friendship, and faithfulness, making it an ideal gift for a wedding or anniversary — the stone lends itself to the fourth wedding anniversary, in its blue form, while the golden imperial topaz represents the twenty-third anniversary — one of its most sought-after colours.
Why is Topaz so precious?
Since the discovery of large deposits of topaz in Brazil in the nineteenth century, the stone has become relatively affordable and widely available.
The rarest form comes in a vivid purplish pink, illustrating how colour is the most important factor in assessing quality and price. Its red, pink or orangey-yellow forms are also very valuable. Only one to two percent of all the material recovered from Brazil’s Ouro Preto topaz mines is of faceting quality, which makes the calibre of this crystal all the more remarkable.
Quite enormous examples of the gemstone have been found. The largest faceted topaz in the world — and indeed the biggest of any gemstone — is the El Dorado stone, from Minas Gerais in Brazil. The crystal weighs in at an extraordinary 31,000 cts, equivalent to 6.2kg, though in pre-cut format it measured a whole 37kg when it was discovered in 1984. This enormous loss of weight during processing can be attributed to the poor gem-quality material that had to be removed to come up with a finished product of perfect cut, clarity and colour.
It is important to note that topaz is most often irradiated to produce desirable colours, especially blue. Because this process closely resembles how topaz forms in nature, there is no practical way to determine whether a stone has been treated in this way.
Types of Topaz:
photo credit: africagems.com
Pure topaz is a silicate mineral that is transparent and colorless when found in nature. The various topaz colors that are available are actually a result of natural impurities or defects in its crystal structure. Based on them, topaz can be classified into the following types:
- Imperial Topaz: This is one of the rarest and most expensive varieties of topaz. It occurs naturally in yellow to orange hues with reddish overtones. As a result of its striking color, imperial topaz has become extremely popular and highly sought-after among jewelry lovers across the globe.
- Sherry Topaz: It is named after sherry wine and ranges from yellowish-brown and brownish-yellow to orange in color. Several dealers even refer to this gem as precious topaz. This helps traders to distinguish sherry topaz from similar, but less expensive gemstones like citrine and smoky quartz.
- Yellow Topaz: For centuries, topaz was believed to be a typical yellow gemstone till modern gemologists discovered its different hues. Today, the term yellow topaz refers only to the yellow and orange-hued varieties of this gem. Also, it is easily available and relatively less expensive than other topaz types.
- Brown Topaz: This name is used to refer to the brown-hued topaz variety. It is widely available and a common topaz color due to which it is less valuable than the others. Sometimes this gemstone is mistakenly called smoky quartz as they have a similar hue.
- White Topaz: It is the colorless or translucent variety of this gem. It is quite easily available as this is the naturally occurring state of topaz. At times, white topaz can be confused with a diamond due to its brilliance and similar appearance.
- Blue Topaz: In the recent years, blue topaz has become the most preferred type of topaz. However, natural blue topaz is extremely rare and usually very pale in color. Therefore natural blue topaz and colorless topaz are often heat treated and irradiated to produce the vibrant blue topaz that is seen in the market.
What is Mystic Topaz?
Mystic Topaz was first seen in September of 1998, at the Hong Kong Jewelry Fair, but it took several years before this magnificent marvel hit mainstream consumers. Before mystic topaz is crafted into the vibrant stone that it is; it starts as a natural topaz gemstone.
Through a modern technology technique called CVD (chemical vapors disposition) the stone is made more desirable. The process places a thin layer of titanium onto a colorless topaz gemstone, resulting a eye-catching variety of colors. Mystic topaz is a natural stone enhanced by a coating treatment.
How to care for Mystic Topaz?
Mystic Topaz must be delicately cared for to maintain its rainbow vibrant glow. It is said that the stone should be given the same care as a precious pearl. The jewelry in which it is embedded should be protect against sharp blows and damaging activities. Only using products you would use for pearls as a base for cleaning. Using a soap and water mix will clean the stone, but using the proper cleaning products will ensure maximum preservation. Do not use abrasive materials when cleaning mystic topaz as the scratches could damage the coating taking away from its beauty. If treated properly mystic topaz can last a lifetime. Though the process that the stone undergoes is more appealing to the eye the actual topaz gemstone holds more value in its natural form.