Topaz is the birthstone for November and it’s blue variety is the gem that celebrates a 4th anniversary while Imperial topaz is the gem that high-lites the 23rd anniversary.
This is a gemstone available in a rich rainbow of colors. Prized for several thousand years in antiquity, all yellow gems in antiquity were called topaz.
The most prized color is the imperial variety named after the Russian Czars of the 1800s and features a magnificent orange body color with pinkish undertones. It also comes in yellow, pink, purple, orange, and the many popular blue tones.
Most authorities agree that the name comes from Topazios, the old Greek name for a small island in the Red Sea, now called Zabargad (The island never produced topaz, but it was once a source of peridot, which was confused with topaz before the development of modern mineralogy).
The use of the stone goes back to ancient times when the Egyptians believed that yellow topaz received its golden hue from the Sun God, Ra.
The ancient Greeks believed that topaz gave them strength, while In Europe during the Renaissance (the period from the 1300s to the 1600s) people thought that topaz could break magic spells and dispel anger.
For centuries, many people in India have believed that when worn above the heart assured long life, beauty, and intelligence.
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.
Many consumers know this gemstone as simply an inexpensive blue gem. They’re surprised to learn that its blue color is hardly ever natural: It’s almost always caused by treatment.
Topaz actually has an exceptionally wide color range that, besides brown, includes various tones and saturations of blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple.
Colorless topaz is plentiful, and is often treated to give it a blue color. Fine pink-to-red, purple, or orange gems are one-of-a-kind pieces.
Topaz is exposed to radiation (a process known as irradiation) and then usually heated, to produce striking blue colours. A deep blue enhanced topaz is known as “London blue”; medium blue is called “Swiss blue” and light-blue is termed “sky blue”.
Orange-brown topaz is heat-treated during a process known as “pinking”, which produces a purplish-pink colour. These processes are widely accepted, since they result in permanent colour change.
This gemstone can also be coated to change its colour. Coatings are not permanent and can gradually fade over time. Stones that have been treated in this way should not be re-cut, since the coating will be taken off and reveal a different, undesirable colour inside.
White topaz can also be exposed to diffusion treatment, which means that it is exposed to chemicals and heat, to change the surface colour.
As with irradiation, any surface treatments or coatings are declared by reputable gem sellers.
Topaz’s hardness (8 on the Mohs scale) makes it durable and means that it does not scratch easily. Store topaz away from other gemstones to avoid scratching them. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewellery box.
To clean your topaz, simply use soapy water, a toothbrush, and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue to ensure a beautiful sparkle.
As with most gemstones, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended. If you have any doubts at all consult your local jeweller, as most will clean your jewelry at no cost!
We hope this article has given you a bit more of a background on topaz, but should you have any additional questions about this or any other jewellery related topics, you can always: “Ask the Jeweller”
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