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By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk Feb 19, 2014 Updated Jul 31, 2023

Rutile Topaz Gemstone Information

Rutile Topaz Gemstones from GemSelect - Large Image

About Rutile Topaz - History and Introduction

Rutile is a mineral made mostly of titanium dioxide. Rutile can be included in other minerals and one of them is quartz. Tiny rutile inclusions in the form of needles also cause "asterism" in sapphires and rubies, which are known as "star sapphires" and "star rubies". This means that cabochon cut gems appear to reflect a star on their surface. Rutile is the kind of inclusion that improves, rather than decreases the value of a gemstone because of its interesting and unusual appearance. Some call it "Venus hair", others say it looks like straw, and yet others compare it to yellowish-brown needles or golden threads. Since the inclusions of "rutile topaz" appear very similar to those in rutile quartz, it was assumed that they were composed of the same material. Therefore, "rutile topaz" was the term adopted for topaz with inclusions that appear as brownish-yellow needles. However, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) conducted an investigation of "rutile topaz" stones in 1987, using microscopy. Due to the habit of the inclusions, the GIA concluded that the inclusions are not rutile, but are limonitic stains, which partially or completely fill dislocation channels. Limonite is a yellow or brown iron ore which was first used as a pigment. A famous product of limonite is yellow ochre from Cyprus. This revelation suggests that "rutile topaz" should be more accurately named "limonite topaz", but the name "rutile topaz" seems to have stuck, so this is how it continues to be referred to.

Pear-Shaped Rutile Topaz

Identifying Rutile Topaz

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Rutile topaz appears similar to rutile quartz, but rutile topaz can be distinguished from quartz by its hardness. Topaz has a Mohs hardness score of 8, whereas quartz is softer at 7. Additionally, quartz has no cleavage, whereas topaz displays perfect cleavage. Rutile quartz also usually has a greater range of patterns with more densely occurring needles than rutile topaz, which makes some rutile quartz appear to hold a tiny landscape of dry grass. Rutile topaz tends to have sparser inclusions.

Rutile Topaz; Origin and Gemstone Sources

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Deposits of topaz have been found in Brazil, Afghanistan, Australia, Myanmar (Burma), China, Germany, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and the USA. Natural light-blue topaz is found in Northern Ireland and the UK. Enormous topaz crystals have been discovered in Minas Gerais (Brazil) and Ukraine.

Buying Rutile Topaz and Determining Rutile Topaz Gemstone Value

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Rutile Topaz Colour

Rutile topaz is usually colourless (clear) topaz with golden thread-like inclusions. These inclusions can be very sparse, consisting of just one or two visible threads, or they can be more dense and closely-packed. The inclusions of rutile topaz can range in colour from golden yellow to brownish-yellow. In extremely rare cases, the thread-like inclusions can appear silver or even rainbow-coloured. This is due to the limonite forming with other minerals. Since topaz occurs in other colours, such as orange, pink, pale blue, pale green and even violet, rutile topaz can also occur in these colours. However, rutile topaz is mostly clear.

Rutile Topaz Clarity and Lustre

Rutile topaz is transparent to translucent. Topaz 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. However, in the case of rutile topaz, the inclusions are valued. Topaz is highly prized for its brilliance and vitreous (glassy) lustre.

Rutile Topaz Cut and Shape

Topaz is a very versatile material. Therefore it can be fashioned into a great variety of shapes, such as square, round, octagon, pear, oval, heart and other fancy shapes. With regard to rutile topaz, lapidarists must be careful to facet the gemstone in order to best display the limonite inclusions, since the inclusions can appear more or less prominent according to the angle from which the gem is viewed. The hardness of topaz makes it resistant to scratches. However, lapidarists must handle topaz carefully, due to its perfect cleavage, which means that it can easily fracture.

Rutile Topaz Treatment

Whilst topaz is known to be frequently colour-enhanced, clear rutile topaz is natural, colourless topaz that has naturally occurring limonite inclusions. Therefore, rutile topaz in naturally occurring topaz colours is not treated or enhanced.

Rutile Topaz Gemmological Properties:

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Chemical Formula: Al2SiO4(F,OH)2 Fluor containing aluminium silicate
Crystal Structure: Orthorhombic, prisms with multi-faceted ends, often octagonal in cross-section
Colour: Colourless, yellow, orange, red-brown, light to dark blue, pink-red, red, violet, light green
Hardness: 8 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.609 - 1.643
Density: 3.49 - 3.57
Cleavage: Perfect
Transparency: Transparent and translucent
Double Refraction or Birefringence: 0.008 to 0.016
Lustre: Vitreous
Fluorescence: Under long wavelength UV, white and blue shows a weak yellow or greenish glow; brown, pink and yellow can show a strong orange-yellow glow; red shows a weak yellow-brown glow

Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemmology-related terms.

Rutile Topaz: Related or Similar Gemstones

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Golden rutile quartz gem
Golden Rutile Quartz

Topaz is chemically related to sillimanite, andalusite, kanonaite, kyanite and mullite. Rutile topaz looks similar to rutile quartz, but rutile quartz has a different composition, with limonite inclusions, and is slightly softer, having a Mohs hardness score of 7. Rutile topaz is more valuable than rutile quartz, so it is important to distinguish between the two. Limonite inclusions can also occur in other gemstones, such as chalcedony quartz, where the inclusions can appear as flecks of gold, rather than needle-like threads.

Rutile Topaz Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers

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Rutile topaz is a kind of topaz; therefore the beliefs that are attributed to natural topaz apply to it. Rutile inclusions are thought to boost the metaphysical properties of the gem. However, in the case of rutile topaz, the inclusions are limonite. Limonite is said to be stabilizing and a powerful mental healer. It is also believed to provide strength of character and restore youthfulness. With regard to topaz, the ancient Greeks believed that it was a powerful stone that could increase the strength of the wearer and even provide invisibility in desperate times. Both the ancient Egyptians and the Romans associated 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. Blue topaz is the birthstone for December and is used to commemorate the 4th 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. Additionally, 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.

Rutile Topaz Gemstone and Jewellery Design Ideas

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Rutile topaz can be made into an almost limitless variety of jewellery due to its versatility. It is ideal for rings, necklaces, bracelets and pendants and can be cut into almost any shape. As with diamond, rutile 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. Rutile topaz is very hard (8 on the Mohs scale), which gives it durability and resistance to scratches. Rutile topaz should be carefully cut and faceted, in order to show the limonite inclusions to their best advantage.

Note: Buy coloured gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Coloured stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.

Rutile Topaz Gemstone Jewellery Care and Cleaning

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How to clean your gemstonesLike diamond, rutile 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. Rutile topaz's hardness (8 on the Mohs scale) makes it durable and means that it does not scratch easily. To clean your rutile 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 jewellery or gemstones before exercising, cleaning or engaging in harsh physical activities such as sports. Store rutile topaz away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewellery box.

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