Gemstone Focus: Topaz

Yellow Topaz is the traditional birthstone of November. Most people will associate the November birthstone with the colour yellow . However, as a family group topaz can be found in many colours including blue and the highly sought after and rare Pink Topaz and the orange- red Imperial Topaz aka Precious Topaz. I’ll talk more about the Blue Topaz in December.

The ancient Greeks believed that topaz imbued strength to the wearer. While medieval Europeans thought it could protect them against magic spells, calm anger and render the wearer invisible! And in India it was believed that topaz worn near the heart assured long life, beauty and intelligence.

Yellow topaz has also had a long association with attracting wealth, most probably because of its golden yellow colour. St Hildegard even recommended soaking a topaz in wine for three days and then rubbing it on ones eyes to improve eyesight!

Imperial Topaz is the gemstone of the 23rd wedding anniversary and Golden Topaz is the 50th.

Facts, Care and Value:

One of the most important sources of high quality Topaz is the state of Minas Gerias in Brazil. They produce topaz in colours ranging from yellow to pink to orange. Pakistan is known for its pink topaz. Namibia, Madagascar, Mexico, the US and Russia are among others that produce this lovely gemstone.

Up until the early 20th century all yellow gemstones were referred to as topaz which explains why many yellow gemstones such as Citrine have been misidentified. So be aware that if you stumble across an antique piece of topaz jewellery it might not be a true topaz.

Value-wise, Pink and Imperial topaz (yellow/orange) are the most valuable. In smaller sizes up to 2-3 carats they are valued up to $300 per carat but rapidly increase up to $5000 per carat in stones larger than 3 carats. The more common topaz colours range in price from $10 – $30 per carat.

While Topaz is fairly hard (scratch resistant) and sits at 8 on the Mohs scale, it has what is known as perfect cleavage. This means that if struck at just the right point, the stone could cleave in two. A protective setting can help to prevent this, though a prong setting if done well is fine. It does mean that the best way to clean this gemstone is with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Ultrasonic cleaners and other mechanical means of cleaning should be off limits as the vibrations could cause the stone to split. Some topaz may be coated with a surface treatment such as the Mystic topaz and some commercial Pink Topaz. If your topaz has one of these treatments avoid any chemical type of cleaning.

So there you have a little bit about the Topaz, if you have any questions please drop them in the comments below. thanks for joining me!

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