Imperial topaz is also known as "precious topaz". It is the most sought after natural topaz. Considered to be the color of the setting sun, imperial topaz gets its name from the Russian tsars of the 17th century. This is because the tsars claimed exclusive rights to the pink topaz gemstones that were mined in Russia. Imperial topaz is less common than other types of naturally occurring topaz, which makes it more valuable. Imperial topaz was traditionally considered to be orange with red dichroism, (this means that when tilted in the light, imperial topaz can appear red or orange), but nowadays it is more widely defined as yellow, pink, red, lavender-pink and peach-pink topaz.
Imperial topaz is yellow, pink or pink-orange. The natural pink variety is very rare. Brazilian imperial topaz can range in color from bright yellow to deep golden brown and is sometimes even violet. Imperial topaz can be distinguished from other pink gems such as kunzite, tourmaline, sapphire and ruby by its hardness (8 on the Mohs scale). Ruby and sapphire are harder, at 9, and kunzite and tourmaline are softer. Yellow imperial topaz can also be identified by its hardness; citrine and brazilianite are softer. Apatite, fluorite and zircon are gems that can appear in pink and yellow, but they are softer than topaz. Yellow and pink phenakite can be distinguished from topaz by its trigonal crystal structure. Spinel can be told apart from topaz by its cubic crystal structure. Yellow chrysoberyl is harder than imperial topaz and has a higher refractive index. Precious beryl has indistinct cleavage, thus distinguishing it from imperial topaz, which displays perfect cleavage.
Originally, imperial topaz was classified as orange with red dichroism. Nowadays imperial topaz is defined more widely to include yellow, pink, red, lavender-pink and peach-pink. Sometimes, the color of imperial topaz can gradually fade over time, when exposed to sunlight.
Imperial Topaz Clarity and Luster
Imperial topaz is transparent to translucent. It exhibits high clarity with few inclusions, so topaz gemstones can be examined by the naked eye and found to be "eye clean", which means that no imperfections can be seen. Imperial topaz is highly prized for its brilliance and vitreous (glassy) luster.
Imperial Topaz Cut and Shape
Imperial topaz is a very versatile material. Therefore it can be cut into a great variety of shapes, such as square, round, octagon, pear, oval, heart and even fancy shapes. Strongly colored gemstones are usually scissor cut whereas weakly colored stones are generally brilliantly cut. This best shows off the brilliance and clarity of the gems. When imperial topaz has irregular inclusions, it is often cabochon cut. The hardness of imperial topaz makes it resistant to scratches. However, lapidarists must handle topaz carefully due to its perfect cleavage, which means that it can easily fracture.
Imperial Topaz Treatment
Imperial topaz is not usually treated or enhanced. However, orange-brown imperial topaz can be heat-treated during a process known as "pinking", which produces a purplish-pink color. Naturally pink topaz is rare and is usually a pale shade of pink. It occurs in Pakistan. Topaz can also be coated to produce vivid pink and imitation "imperial topaz". Reputable gem traders always declare such treatments.
Imperial topaz can appear similar to a variety of other gemstones depending on the color. In fact, the ancient Greeks are thought to have mistaken chrysolite for topaz. Orange-brown and imperial topaz is similar to citrine, zircon, chrysoberyl, golden beryl and sapphire. Pink imperial topaz appears to be like morganite, tourmaline, kunzite, rose quartz and spinel. Yellow imperial topaz can be compared with chrysoberyl, heliodor, zircon and yellow sapphire. Topaz is chemically related to sillimanite, andalusite, kanonaite, kyanite and mullite.
Imperial Topaz Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Healing
The ancient Greeks believed that topaz was a powerful stone that could increase the strength of the wearer and even provide invisibility. Both the ancient Egyptians and the Romans associated yellow topaz with the Sun God. Imperial topaz is the birthstone for those born in November and for those born under the zodiacal sign of Sagittarius. It is also the gemstone that commemorates the 23rd wedding anniversary. In traditional Indian belief systems, topaz is said to unlock the throat chakra, which facilitates communication and self-expression. Therefore, topaz is thought to be beneficial to artists, writers, public speakers and others who are concerned with self-expression. Some believe that topaz can promote virility in men.
Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Traditional, Ceremonial and Mythological Gemstone Lore is collected from various resources and does not represent the sole opinion of SETT Co., Ltd. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed medical practitioner. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements of healing or astrological birthstone powers and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.
Imperial topaz can be made into an almost limitless variety of jewelry due to its versatility. It is ideal for rings, necklaces, bracelets and pendants because it can be cut into almost any shape. As with diamond, imperial topaz should be protected from hard knocks by protected settings in rings for daily wear. This is because a single blow could cause fracturing due to perfect cleavage. Imperial topaz's hardness (8 on the Mohs scale), gives it durability and resistance to scratches.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.
Like diamond, imperial topaz has perfect cleavage, which means that the force of a single blow could cause it to split. Therefore, protected bezel settings are recommended, rather than pronged settings, for rings that are worn daily. Imperial topaz's hardness (8 on the Mohs scale) makes it durable and means that it doesn't scratch easily. To clean your imperial topaz, simply use soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue. As with most gemstones, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended. Always remove any jewelry or gemstones before exercising, cleaning or engaging in harsh physical activities such as sports. Store imperial topaz away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.