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Topaz Gemstone Information

Topaz Gemstones at GemSelect
Natural Topaz Gemstones

A brief outline

The name Topaz has been used to refer to yellowish gemstones for at least 2000 years although early gem traders did not realize that these yellow stones could be a variety of different crystals. As gem traders began to get more sophisticated, they came to know that these yellow stones may be quartz, beryl, sapphire or what we now know as topaz.

The word topaz may have been derived from the Greek island of Topázos in the Red Sea where a yellow stone was mined and the Greek verb topazein meaning 'to try to find' but I prefer the Sanskrit word 'Tapas' meaning heat or fire as the source of the modern 'topaz' as it more captures the brilliance of the gem.

Topaz makes an ideal gemstone, it comes in a wide range of colors and its relatively hard qualities allow for many uses.

In nature, some of the largest crystals ever unearthed are topaz, often in flawless pieces, perfect for faceted gemstones. Most topaz is naturally colorless or white but can come in a number of tints due to impurities, usually chromium.

Topaz Colors

Topaz Color Range
Topaz Color Range

The most common natural color for topaz is pale yellow or brown, in fact, traditionally nearly all yellowish gemstones were known as topaz, but occasionally pink, orange, red, purple or blue crystals would be found.

The rarest, and thus most expensive, colors of topaz range from golden yellow to pink-orange and is known as Imperial Topaz or sometimes Precious Topaz.

The most popular color of topaz is blue, anything from pale blue to deep blue. As blue topaz is extremely rare in nature, nearly all blue topaz is the result of first irradiation and then heat treatment. The two favorite blue variations are the lightly colored 'Swiss Blue' and the much darker 'London Blue'. Blue topaz is very attractive, fairly inexpensive and available in a steady supply which makes it beloved by jewelry makers.

Topaz is Allochromatic, which means that its color is caused by impurities or defects in its crystal structure rather than by an element of an element like iron or chromium.

What are the different types of topaz?

Topaz varieties usually just refer to its color and is often a trade name made up by jewelry dealers with most common being Swiss Blue and London Blue. There is also the most valuable variety, Imperal Topaz, with its golden, orange and pinkish hues. Less well known are the Sherry Topaz which, as the name suggests comes in honeyed brown colors, Azotic Topaz and Mystic Topaz with their artificially produced rainbow effects and Silver Topaz and White Topaz, both colorless forms.

Over the years, some crafty dealers have used misleading terms for types of topaz that are really different crystals entirely, Bahia Topaz, Gold Topaz, Madeira Topaz are all types of citrine gemstones while Indian Topaz and King Topaz are inferior quality sapphires.

Topaz Clarity

Topaz gemstones are considered to have high levels of clarity, most gemstones for sale are what we would call 'eye clean', that is any impurities or flaws (known as inclusions) are invisible to the naked eye. As it is a natural gemstone such inclusions certainly exist but would only be visible under magnification.

What is the spiritual meaning of topaz?

For centuries Topaz has been associated with opulence and abundance, the golden yellows and warm oranges of the traditional gemstones have evoked the energy of the sun, indeed ancient Egyptians and Romans related the stone to the Sun god. This solar energy touches everything, soothing, healing, invigorating, and the luxuriant topaz embodies this completely.

Topaz is generally considered an enhancement crystal, effective for focus and meditation but individual colors have additional properties.

Blue Topaz brings truth and wisdom, White or Clear Topaz promotes clear thinking, Imperial Topaz increases power and positivity, pink topaz signifies hope and brown topaz helps release hidden energies.

The color variations are endless and so are its powers and combining colors can be even more effective.

Topaz healing properties

In the 13th Century, St Hildegard, who wrote one of the earliest books on medicine, had this to say about failing eyesight: steep a topaz in wine for three days and then lightly rub it over the eyes. In India, topaz has been used to treat tonsillitis and mumps and the medieval kings of Europe would put topaz into wine to check for the presence of poison. These remedies may not impress your medical insurer but show the history and tradition of the healing properties of topaz.

Nowadays Topaz is said to improve posture and stimulate the heart and is still highly recommended for those who wish to improve their eyesight!

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.

Topaz prices

How much does it cost?

As with all gemstones the prices they reach is dependent upon color, clarity, cut and carat. The most popular topaz is the blue variety, notably the Swiss Blue and the London Blue, but these are a mass produced gem and are not especially expensive. The rarest and most expensive form of topaz is the Imperial Topaz and these stones, unlike the Blue Topaz are typically not treated. Imperial Topaz comprise less than 1% of all gem-grade topaz and range from golden yellow to sherry pinks and it is the pinks that command the best prices. Imperial Topaz is sourced from Brazil and Russia (in fact the name Imperial came from the pink topaz mined in the Ural mountains and named in honor of the Russian Czars) , although the Russian mines have now dried up and the Brazilian mines are nearing exhaustion too. White Topaz can reach reasonable prices depending upon size and quality.

Topaz Price List

Color Weight range Price range / USD
Sky Blue 1 - 5ct $5 - $10/ct
Sky Blue 5ct + $6 - $12/ct
Swiss Blue 1 - 5ct $6 - $20/ct
Swiss Blue 5ct + $7 - $20/ct
London Blue 1 - 5ct $7 - $30/ct
London Blue 5ct + $8 - $45/ct
Imperial 1ct + $500 - $1500/ct
White 1ct + $3 - $12/ct
Fancy (coated) 1ct + $5 - $15/ct

Topaz Discovery

It is difficult to trace the history of true topaz because of early confusion over its identity. All yellowish gemstones were once referred to as topaz no matter what mineral they may have been. Golden citrine, smoky quartz and peridot were once considered topaz. The large clear topaz crystals found in nature have lead some to be mistaken for diamonds, even the crown jewels of Portugal and Saxony have diamonds in them which turned out to be topaz.

By the 18th century, scientists had been able to identify the gemological properties of Topaz and all variations could be sorted into one group.

Where is the Topaz found?

The Globe

Topaz can be found all over the world with gem quality crystals found in south and south east Asia, the mountain ranges of central Europe, north and central America, Australia, southern Africa and the most productive and lucrative areas in Brazil and formerly Russia.

Can topaz be treated?

While blue topaz does exist in nature the vast majority of the popular Blue Topaz sold around the world has been 'treated' in one way or another. To get the classic Swiss Blue or London Blue, the untreated usually colorless gemstone is first exposed to radiation and then heated. The valuable Imperial Topaz is not usually treated although some stones with a pink shade can be heated to enhance the vividness of the pink. Some Topaz gemstones such as Mystic or Azotic are enhanced with a thin coating to give rainbow color effects. Reputable gem traders such as us at GemSelect always declare such treatments.

What jewelry is Topaz suitable for?

Topaz is a beautiful gemstone which, because of its durability, is an ideal gem for any type of daily wear jewelry. This hardness, as well as its availability in large crystals, makes it perfect for an array of fancy cuts including concave cuts where the shaping of the gemstone results in a lot of wastage.

The wide variety of colors means you will have no trouble matching topaz with any jewelry alloy. From the lightest of silvers to the reddest of golds you will find the right color Topaz.

Its hardness rating on Moh’s scale is an impressive 8, just below that of sapphires and rubies however it also has perfect cleavage meaning it splits along the direction of its crystals. This cleavage is more of a concern for cutters, engravers and mounters, as normal day to day use of a topaz is unlikely to incur a blow of such force as to break a topaz gemstone.

While topaz gemstones are strong enough to withstand the rigors of daily wear care should be taken to avoid any sharp blows and should be stored carefully to avoid contact with hard materials which could break, chip or scratch the gem.

Some enhanced Topaz such as Mystic Topaz is given a coating treatment and this coating can be scratched. The coating is on the back of the cut stone (called pavilion) so we suggest a closed pavilion setting to protect this area from daily wear and tear.

Is Topaz a birthstone?

Topaz, especially colored yellow or orange and often called Imperial or Precious Topaz, is the November birthstone, symbolizing love and affection. It is believed to give the wearer increased strength and judgement. Blue Topaz is one of the three birthstones for December.

Is Topaz an anniversary gem?

Blue topaz is the gem of the 4th anniversary, choose from Sky Blue, Swiss Blue and London Blue. Imperial topaz, ideally the color of the setting sun and the most valuable form of topaz, is the stone of the 23rd anniversary.

How topaz is formed

cooling lava

When molten lava or magma cools and solidifies it becomes igneous rock. Within this solid substance, evolved by time into granite, pegmatite, basalt and many others rock types, are cavities and cracks. It is in these fissures that thermal activity forms crystals, add the minerals fluorite, cassiterite and a few million years and you have topaz.

Very Large Crystals

In nature, Topaz crystals can appear in enormous unbroken sizes, some as large as boulders and are weighed in kilograms rather that carats. The American Golden Topaz, a 172-faceted Topaz comes in at 22,892.5 Carats and weighs nearly 5kgs but before it was cut it weighed over 11kgs! It is the largest cut Yellow Topaz in the world, and one of the largest faceted gems of any type in the world. The "El-Dorado Topaz" is the largest faceted gemstone in the world and weighs an incredible 31,000 carats. It is an emerald-cut yellow topaz gem that was mined in Brazil and before it was cut weighed 37 kg. The Marbella Topaz is 8,225 carats and expertly cut into an oval shape, amazingly pure and transparent, can be appreciated up close in a museum in Madrid.

Naturally Blue

Blue topaz was named the official state gem of Texas after some rare, naturally pale blue topaz was discovered there in 1969. Topaz is also the state gemstone of Utah, where you can find Topaz Mountain which is open for people who wish to experience digging for gems themselves.

Born under a good sign

Those born under the star sign Scorpio will find topaz to be your lucky stone.

Royal Connections

Catherine Middleton has been known to wear a pair of blue topaz and diamond drop earrings on social occasions.

The Barganza Diamond was discovered in Brazil in the 18th Century when the country was under the control of Portugal. It made its way to the royal palace in Lisbon where it became part of the crown jewel collection and was said to be the largest uncut diamond in the world at 1680 carats. It is now thought that it was in fact a large topaz crystal but we cannot be sure as the gem disappeared upon the death of King John VI.

A topaz and diamond ring owned by the king of rock'n'roll himself, Elvis Presley.

How to care for Topaz

Topaz's hardness (8 on the Mohs scale) makes it durable and means that it does not scratch easily. To clean your 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 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.

How can you tell a real topaz?

There are some superficial ways to determine if your topaz is real. A simple scratch test can help check hardness compared to another crystal but this will cause damage to one surface or another. Topaz feels very smooth, almost slippery to the touch. Real topaz feels cool and when buying a rare topaz gemstone, remember they do not come cheap, so if the price seems too good to be true, it is probably a fake. The only way to be sure of any gemstone's authenticity is through a professional lab test using refractive index tests or specific gravity tests. Identifying a topaz without one of these tests would be difficult. At GemSelect, we currently offer brief identification reports from your choice of two well-respected independent gemological laboratories, The Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS) and Burapha Gemological Laboratory (BGL Lab).

What is so special about topaz?

If you are looking for a classic and unique piece of jewelry, then the gemstone topaz is for you. With its myriad of colors and ability to reflect light and brilliance, topaz is a much sought after stone and can be used in a wide range of jewelry settings. Topaz is relatively easy to find in large sizes so if you want something truly spectacular you can find a topaz to suit. Topaz can be cut into almost any gemstone shape. When looking for topaz gemstones, it's important to purchase from a trustworthy and settled sales team. The vendor should disclose any treatments that the stone may have withstood and we here at GemSelect, established in 2003, stand by every one of our gems.

Can topaz change color?

Some gemstones have the remarkable ability to change color under sunlight, fluorescent or incandescent lighting however Topaz is not a color changing gemstone.

How can you tell a good quality topaz?

As with most gems, an appraisal of a gemstone's quality is based on the 4 Cs, color, clarity, cut and carat. With Topaz it is the color that is the most important and color can be broken down into three parts, hue, tone and saturation. The hue is the main color of the stone, red, yellow, blue, plus any complementary colors such as orange, green, violet. So, for example, a topaz could be described as yellowish-red. Then there is tone, which is simply how light or how dark the color is – very dark blue could describe some London Blue Topaz. Finally, saturation, and this defines the intensity or brightness of the color, with most Topaz, look for intense and vibrant colors. Good quality topaz gemstones are usually free of major inclusions or blemishes within the stone so a simple check with the naked eye should be enough. Topaz is a versatile and strong gemstone so can be cut into almost any shape but look for facets that show off the clarity and brilliance but will lessen any window effect. Topaz is easy to find in larger carat sizes but as with most colored gems we recommend you select the gems on actual size in millimetres so you will know exactly what you are getting.

Topaz - Gemological Properties

Chemical Formula:

Al2SiO4(F,OH)2 Fluor containing aluminum silicate

Crystal Structure:

Orthorhombic, prisms with multi-faceted ends, often octagonal in cross-section

Color:

Colorless, 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:

Translucent to transparent

Double Refraction or Birefringence:

0.008 to 0.016

Luster:

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

  • First Published: October-21-2019
  • Last Updated: October-25-2019
  • © 2005-2019 GemSelect.com all rights reserved.
    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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Size and Weight

Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

Dimensions are given as;
length x width x depth,
except for round stones which are;
diameter x depth

Select gems by size, not by weight!
Gem varieties vary in density, so carat weight is not a good indication of size

Note: 1ct = 0.2g

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