November Birthstone – Topaz
Born in November? Lucky you! Your November birthstone is not one, but two beautiful gems: One offers a range of colours; the other is famed for its yellows hues. We’ve already talked about Citrine in this blogpost but today we’re going to learn more about 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 colours, and that many yellowish stones actually belong to other mineral species.
The name topaz derives from Topazios, the ancient Greek name for St. John’s Island in the Red Sea. Although the yellow stones famously mined there probably weren’t topaz, it soon became the name for most yellowish stones.
During the Renaissance in Europe, people believed that Topaz could break spells and quell anger. Hindus deemed the stone sacred, believing that a pendant could bring wisdom and longevity to one’s life. African shamans also treated the stone as sacred, using it in their healing rituals. Topaz is a soothing stone that has been said to calm tempers, cure madness and eliminate nightmares.
Pure Topaz is colourless, but it can become tinted by impurities to take on any colour of the rainbow. Precious topaz, ranging in colour from brownish orange to yellow, is often mistaken for “smoky quartz” or “citrine quartz,” respectively. Processes were developed in the 1960s to turn common colourless Topaz blue with irradiation treatment. This variety has since flooded the market, making it one of the least expensive gems available.
The most prized colour is Imperial Topaz, which features a vibrant orange hue with pink undertones. Blue Topaz, although increasingly abundant in the market, very rarely occurs naturally and is often caused by irradiation treatment.
The largest producer of quality topaz is Brazil. Other sources include Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Australia, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico and the U.S. Measuring 8 on the Mohs scale, Topaz is a rather hard and durable gem. Its perfect cleavage can make it prone to chipping or cracking, but when cut correctly, topaz makes very wearable jewellery.
How to Buy Topaz
Topaz has become fairly common and therefore rather inexpensive. It can be judged along the same parameters as diamonds. In fact, colourless Topaz is increasingly popular as an inexpensive diamond alternative.
Colour – Blue and colourless Topaz are widely available and very affordable. Most of the blue Topaz on the market today has been colour treated. Red and pink Topaz varieties are rare, highly cherished and will carry a significantly higher price tag per carat.
Clarity – Faceted blue Topaz is almost always free of eye-visible inclusions. Topaz in colours that are not as plentiful may be included. Depending on the rarity of the colour, inclusions may not have a significant effect on value.
Cut – Topaz is cut in a wide variety of shapes and styles, including emerald, cushion, oval, pear, round, triangular, marquise and fantasy cuts.
Carat weight – If the colour of the Topaz is considered rare, the per-carat price may rise dramatically as size increases.