Topaz is a popular choice for jewellery as it comes in many beautiful colours. Technically a silicate mineral, it is thought topaz was first found on a small island called Topazios located in the Red Sea. However, it turned out that what the Ancient Greeks had found there was in fact peridot. The name topaz may also derive from the Sanskrit word topas meaning fire.
Topaz is one of the birthstones for November along with citrine, and it is also the celebratory stone for a fourth anniversary. Said to be symbolic of peace and healing, this beautiful mineral is also thought to give strength to its wearer.
The majority of mined topaz is colourless and therefore heat treatment is applied to create colour, most often blue. Today, mining takes place in many countries including Brazil, The United States, Madagascar, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Russia, and China. Topaz is one of the hardest natural minerals and measures 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
Blue topaz is perhaps the most common and affordable topaz and is known in the jewellery trade by three names. Sky Blue Topaz is pale powdery blue and can occasionally be mistaken for an aquamarine gemstone. Swiss Blue Topaz is a more deeply saturated medium shade of electric blue. Finally, London Blue Topaz is a deep inky blue and possibly our favourite of the three.
The value of topaz depends greatly on its colour, with the highest prices attaching themselves to rare pink and red stones. Imperial Topaz is the most highly-sought after and valuable topaz that displays sunset hues of orangey-reds and pinks. True Imperial Topaz is always untreated and is mined primarily in the Ouro Preto mines of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Deposits were also found in the Ural Mountains in Russia, and the name Imperial Topaz was given by the 17th Century Russian Tsars who claimed exclusive rights to the mine.
Yellow, orange and brown topaz are more common. The name Precious Topaz relates to warm yellow and peachy stones that can sometimes be mistaken for the deep hues of a Madeira Citrine gemstone. Sherry Topaz is named after the fortified wine because of its brownish yellow tones.
Another perhaps lesser known form of topaz is Mystic Topaz. This is a treated clear topaz that displays beautiful rainbow colours across its surface due to the addition of a very layer of titanium.
Although topaz is a hard mineral, it should be cleaned with a soft brush and mild dish-soap diluted in warm water. Topaz is not suitable for cleaning with ultrasonic methods as this could cause damage.
Overall, topaz is a fascinating stone that offers endless options for beautiful jewellery pieces.