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Topaz is a fluorine-containing silicate, which is commonly encountered as both a faceted gemstone and uncut crystal specimen. Although traditionally associated with yellowish and/or brownish hues, modern-day irradiation and subsequent heating of previously colorless material today produces the light “sky” blue, bright “Swiss” blue and dark-toned, greyish “London” blue varieties in huge quantities. At the opposite end of the rarity and price spectrum, reddish, pinkish and/or orangish “Imperial” topaz is by far the most valuable variety – especially when cut in such a way so as to display an intense pleochroic coloration at the stone’s outer extremities.

It is important to note that the term “topaz” was historically used for a wide variety of yellow gem materials prior to the introduction of the modern gemological definition, with the name itself derived from that of a well-known ancient peridot source locality, namely the Red Sea island of Topazios.

History of Topaz

Yellow gems have been called variations of the name topaz for thousands of years — long before mineralogists determined that topaz occurs in a range of colors, and that many yellowish gemstones actually belong to other mineral species.

Ancient texts from the Greek scholar Pliny to the King James Bible referenced topaz, but because of this longstanding confusion, they likely referred to other yellow gemstones instead.

During the Renaissance in Europe, people believed that topaz could break spells and quell anger. Hindus deemed topaz sacred, believing that a pendant could bring wisdom and longevity to one’s life. African shamans also treated the gemstone as sacred, using it in their healing rituals.

Russia’s Ural Mountains became a leading source of topaz in the 19th century. The prized pinkish orange gemstone mined there was named Imperial topaz to honor the Russian czar, and only royals could own it.

Since the discovery of large topaz deposits in Brazil in the mid-19th century, topaz has become much more affordable and widely available for all.

Processes were developed in the 1960s to turn common colorless topaz blue with irradiation treatment. This variety has since flooded the market, making it one of the least expensive gemstones available.

Light blue varieties of topaz can be found in Texas, though not commercially mined there. Blue topaz became an official gemstone of Texas in 1969, the same year Utah adopted topaz as its state gemstone.

Sources of Topaz

Topaz is found in many locations worldwide where rocks like pegmatite and rhyolite are formed. Here, topaz is usually a minor mineral in terms of quantity, and a secondary mineral in terms of its time of formation.

Brazil has been the world’s most important source of topaz for decades. Almost all of the world’s fine-quality imperial topaz is produced in the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil. The Ouro Preto and Capao mines have been the most important sources of yellow, orange, pink, red, and violet topaz crystals for the gem and mineral specimen markets. Brazil is also the leading producer of colorless topaz, much of which is heat treated and irradiated to produce the colors of Swiss blue and London blue.

Pakistan is a smaller but noteworthy source of pink, red, and violet topaz. Sri Lanka is a very important source of colorless topaz. Other sources of topaz include Australia, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Russia, and Zimbabwe. In the United States, some topaz is produced in Utah, where it was named the state gemstone in 1969.

Types of Topaz

Topaz is a natural stone but it can be put through a number of treatment processes to alter its colour and properties.

Imperial Topaz

Named in honor of the Russian Imperial family, Imperial topaz is the rarest variety, coming in warm hues of peach, pink, and orange. It is most commonly found in Minas Gerais in Brazil and the Ural Mountains of Russia. Laws were imposed by the Tsarinas of the Russian royal family barring non-royals from wearing or owning imperial topaz, cementing the stone’s exclusivity.

Mystic Topaz

One of the most striking varieties of topaz, mystic topaz is coated with a thin layer of titanium creating a multi-colored iridescent effect. Mystic topaz requires delicate care to maintain its colour, and abrasive cleaning products should be avoided.

The stone symbolizes kindness and empathy, and it is believed to bear certain physical and spiritual healing properties.

Azotic Topaz

Azotic topaz, like mystic topaz, is artificially colour enhanced. A thin film of metal is applied to its surfaces, giving it a similar iridescent variety of surface colours to mystic topaz. It differs from mystic topaz in its orangey-pink – as opposed to clear–base colour.

It was named after the company that developed the treating process to create its stunning finish. Azotic topaz jewelry is perfect for those with vivacious personalities and looks beautiful set against silver for contrast.

White Topaz

White topaz – or glacier topaz as it is sometimes known – can be as colourless as a diamond and is sometimes used as a cheaper alternative for an engagement ring. But because topaz isn’t as durable as diamond, it isn’t as well equipped for daily wear.

Blue Topaz

There are several varieties of blue topaz, such as London blue topaz and Swiss blue topaz. London blue is a deep, ‘inky’ blue whereas Swiss blue is a lighter, almost sky blue.

Natural blue topaz is extremely rare but can be made created by treating white topaz with small bursts of radiation. It looks stunning in gold jewellery, like in this mid-century topaz ring, where the brightness of the blue contrasts beautifully with rich yellow metal.

Meaning of Topaz

The meaning of topaz is expressed both in its energy, as well as the origin of its name—it is a gemstone that carries the energy of fire. True to its essence, topaz is highly prized for its “sunny” abilities such as making good friends, enjoy a confident attitude in life and strive for excellence in all actions.

Topaz is also considered to help one attune to higher wisdom, clarify one’s vision for life, as well as live with openness and integrity. Expressing the power of the bright sunlight, topaz has the energy to uncover shadows, illusions, and lies; it helps one not only align with truth but also consistently live with it as a guiding light. Topaz is considered a very protective gemstone—it protects one not only from the outer negativity, but also form one’s own fears, illusions, and anxieties.

Just as the sun shines on anyone without exclusion, so does the energy of topaz helps one forgive others no matter what. It helps develop clear discernment of others’ behavior while keeping an open and forgiving heart. Topaz alleviates anxiety and fear and strengthens one’s optimism, wisdom and clarity.

Rejuvenation on both physical and emotional levels is another prized property of the topaz gemstone. Gently but surely, topaz helps circulate energy in one’s body to promote a warm glow of fresh energy. Because it knows how to reach blocked places in one’s energy, topaz can bring awareness to the wearer of both physical, as well as mental blockages. It helps one become aware of repeated thought patterns and outdated behaviors, thus helping bring change in an empowered way.

Care Instruction

Chemicals are topaz’s worst enemy. Even weak acids found in cosmetics and hair products can harm the jewel’s color, shine and surface.

Always put your topaz jewelry on last after you have styled your hair and applied your makeup, and take it off first before undressing or washing. Never apply lotion or use hand sanitizer while wearing topaz.

When it comes time to clean your topaz, do not use any special jewelry cleaners as they contain chemicals and acids often too harsh for this stone. Merely soak it in a solution of slightly warm water and mild dish soap for 10 to 15 minutes instead.

Rub any remaining dirt off with a soft cloth, then rinse it in warm water and pat the piece dry.

Most grime collects underneath the stone in the space where light is meant to shine through, so be sure to clean the underside of your jewelry as well as the front. If the area is too small to reach with a cloth, a soft toothbrush can be used as well.

Storing your topaz out of the light and away from other stones will keep it bright and glittering for years to come. A jewelry box is a good choice to store securely your topaz items and other pieces separately.