“In fact, the abundant numbers and types of red, green and blue gemstones account for nearly 90 percent of all gemstones. Compared to that, yellowish gemstones are limited to Imperial Topaz, Fancy Yellow Diamond, Yellow Sapphire, and a few other varieties.”

Yasukazu Suwa, Gemstones: Quality and Value, Volume 2 (2002)

Etymology

The etymology of ‘Topaz’ is intriguing, with a variety of different stories explaining its roots. It may be derived from the Sanskrit ‘tapaz’ (fire) or from the Greek ‘topazios’, their name for Zabargad, an island in the Red Sea and the ancient source of Peridot.

Chemical composition of Topaz

Topaz is a hydrous aluminum fluorosilicate with a unique crystal structure, colored by traces of iron and chrome, and sometimes treated to better emphasize various color tones.

London Blue Topaz

London Blue Topaz

Topaz extraction

Topaz is primarily extracted in Brazil, and a few examples are also found in Mozambique and Nigeria.

Marambaia Topaz

Marambaia Topaz

The history of Topaz

Imperial Topaz crystals

Imperial Topaz crystals

Topaz has a long, rich history; cited in various books of the Bible, Topaz is set in the breastplate of Aaron (Exodus 28:15-30), and was believed to bestow invincibility in perilous situations. In Revelations (21:19) Topaz is also one of the 12 gemstones set in the foundations of the city walls of Jerusalem.

Properties of Topaz

Topaz is a very popular gemstone, thanks to its array of colors: white, yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, green, violet, and sometimes even several colors combined. It also displays extremely brilliant luster. A few examples are pleochroic, displaying two different colors depending on the angle of observation.

Varieties of Topaz

Two marvelous varieties: Mystic Topaz and Moonlight Topaz

Two marvelous varieties: Mystic Topaz and Moonlight Topaz

The many colorations of Topaz are mostly named metaphorically. The blue varieties, for example, are described as London Blue Topaz, Swiss Blue Topaz and Sky Blue Topaz, as well as Neptune Topaz or Ocean Topaz. Cherry Topaz and Flamingo Topaz display intense red and bright pink hues. Mystic Topaz, Sunset Topaz and Blue Moon Topaz shimmer with the colors of the rainbow, while Anguria Topaz is even bicolor, combining a startling pink with an intense green.

Care for Topaz

Some examples lose color intensity or revert to their original colors if exposed to very intense light. Do not re-cut or re-polish gemstones with superficial color layers.