Topaz

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December Birthstone

Topaz can be both very common (when clear, or in certain colors like brown, which can turn blue when treated) and very rare (when found in natural beautiful colors rare to the species, like pink and red). Topaz's popularity stems from the gem's good wearability and affordability. Topaz is also often altered with special surface treatments to give it unusual colors and iridescent effects, like mystic, ocean, kiwi, and orchid topaz. Topaz is also a popular birthstone, as blue topaz is December's primary birthstone and yellow topaz is a birthstone for November.

Topaz Polished
Topaz Classification
Common Name Topaz
Species Topaz
Topaz Optical Properties
Transparency Transparent
Dispersion Strength: Weak Fire Value: 0.014
Refractive Index 1.619-1.627
Tolerance:(+0.010/-0.010)
Birefringence 0.008-0.01
Optic Character Biaxial
Optic Sign Positive
Polariscope Reaction Doubly Refractive (DR)
Fluorescence SWUV: Variable
LWUV: Variable
CCF Reaction Surface treated green: pink to red
Pleochroism Dichroic, weak to moderate, varying shades of body color
Topaz Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 8
Streak White
Specific Gravity 3.490-3.570 Range:+/-0.04 Typical:3.530
Toughness Fair
Inclusions Blue stones have Type I clarity for blue and all other colors are type II clarity. Stones sometimes contain long tube-like cavities containing liquid, healed fractures and areas that look like they are starting to cleave. Stones might include 2-phase and 3-phase inclusions some of which contain more than one liquid that have not been mixed. Stones have a coating on the pavilion or crown of stone There might scratches of treated surface of the stone that show colorless areas underneath. Surface treated green topaz is blue green in appearance and looks spotty there might also be blue color concentrations in surface reaching fractures.
Luster Vitreous
Stability Good
Fracture Conchoidal
Cleavage Perfect, in one direction
Topaz Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name fluorosilicate of aluminum with hydroxyl
Chemical Formula Al2(F,OH)2SiO4
Crystal System Orthorhombic
Chemistry Classification Silicate

Topaz Colors

  • Bi-color Topaz Bi-color
  • Yellow Topaz Yellow
  • White Topaz White
  • Red Topaz Red
  • Purple Topaz Purple
  • Pink Topaz Pink
  • Orange Topaz Orange
  • Multi-color Topaz Multi-color
  • Green Topaz Green
  • Gray Topaz Gray
  • Colorless Topaz Colorless
  • Brown Topaz Brown
  • Blue Topaz Blue
  • Black Topaz Black

Alternate Names

Sherry Topaz, Hyacinth Topaz, Imperial Topaz, Precious Topaz, Swiss Blue, London Blue, Mystic Topaz

Countries of Origin

Tanzania, United Republic Of; Myanmar; Afghanistan; Romania; United States of America (the); Cambodia; Sri Lanka; Madagascar; Thailand; Switzerland; Bolivia (Plurinational State of); French Polynesia; India; Mozambique; Pakistan; Unknown; Botswana; China; Namibia; Russian Federation (the); Brazil; Mexico; Nigeria

History

The stones in the blue shades of topaz are Sky Blue, Swiss Blue, and London Blue. Sky blue is very much like aquamarine in its color range. London blue is a darker-blue tone and Swiss blue is the bright, electric, more vibrant blue of the three. Swiss blue is one of the prettiest and most popular of the blue topaz with its intense blue color range. Described as vibrant, electric, or super blue, Swiss blue topaz can be compared to the rich colors of the Caribbean Sea. Whichever you choose to brighten your day, the topaz blues are well-liked, gorgeous, and affordable. Topaz is a very popular gemstone. Why? Because it delivers a winning one-two punch of wear-ability and affordability. Plus, it's a knockout when paired with many colored stones. Topaz is also a popular birthstone, as blue topaz is December's primary birthstone and yellow topaz is a birthstone option for November. Some April babies wear white topaz as an alternative to the more expensive diamond. Topaz has been around for many centuries, and although not as well-known as the big four precious stones, it has its own, well-deserved following. An eight on the scale of hardness, it can easily stand up to regular wear. It's commonly treated, which is okay with us. The treatments give it intensified color and beauty. Topaz has a lot to offer and a lot to recommend it. No wonder it's so popular!

Care

Most blue topaz starts as white AKA colorless topaz from either Brazil or Sri Lanka. It is then irradiated to activate the stable color centers that give us the three shades of Sky, Swiss and London blue. This is a very permanent treatment without which we wouldn't have the beautiful blues we adore. Sometimes a special surface treatment is used to enhance the look of topaz. If you enjoy Mystic Topaz®, Glacier Topaz™ and others, you'll be glad to know that the treatments are durable and treated stones will give you years of enjoyment. Just be sure to stay away from chemicals, steam, and ultra-sonic cleaners. A little warm water keeps your special topaz looking topnotch.

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More About Topaz

During the Middle Ages, topaz was invested with many powers. It was believed that it could strengthen the mind and prevent death. It was once recommended as a cure for madness as well as a talisman to increase wisdom and prudence. Many believed that it could cool a bad temper and boiling water.

Topaz Gemstone

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Species/Variety

Imperial Topaz

At the height of Imperial Russia's power, orange-pink topaz was brought from Brazil to decorate the jewelry of the Tzarina. Since then, these colors have been known as imperial topaz, and still today remains one of the most coveted topaz varieties. Interestingly enough, some sources dispute this legend and state that imperial topaz was indeed named in honor of the Brazilian ruler in power at the time, Emperor Don Pedro. Classified as a rare collector's gem, the world's supply of imperial topaz comes from sources in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. It is generally the reddish-orange or orange-red variety of topaz that's considered "imperial." Some also consider yellowish-orange, cognac-colored and pure orange to be imperial topaz.

Imperial Topaz Topaz
Imperial Topaz Classification
Common Name Imperial Topaz
Imperial Topaz Optical Properties
Refractive Index 1.629-1.637
Fluorescence SWUV: Inert to weak greenish white
LWUV: Inert to moderate orange or yellow
Pleochroism Dichroic, weak to moderate light red and orangy red to yellow
Imperial Topaz Characteristic Physical properties
Inclusions Imperial topaz is a type II clarity stone. Stones sometimes contain long tube-like cavities containing liquid, healed fractures and areas that look like they are starting to cleave.Stones might include 2-phase and 3-phase inclusions some of which contain more than one liquid that have not been mixed.
Tim Matthews

Author

Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.