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Gem in the Spotlight: Topaz

Whether it's blue, clear, rainbow, or something else, Topaz is an amazing gemstone

The old baseball joke, “Who’s on First?” “Yes, Who’s on First…” always comes to mind when I hear people discussing Topaz. You can hear one person say, “I love Topaz; it reminds me of a blue sky.” Then her friend says back, “Topaz may be like a golden sunset, but not the sky.” A third friend will chime in, “You’re both crazy, it’s like a beautiful peach.” Then, a passerby contributes, “You all are nuts, it’s like a rainbow with all the colors at once.” And of course, all of them are right.

Topaz is naturally colorless, clear like a diamond. In fact, one famous clear Topaz the “Braganz Diamond” (1,680 carats) was set in the Portuguese crown jewels as a diamond and years later was tested to be Topaz. Clear Topaz is known as crystal or silver Topaz.

the “Braganz Diamond” (1,680 carats) was set in the Portuguese crown jewels as a diamond and years later was tested to be Topaz

Yellow to reddish-orange is known as Precious Topaz or Imperial Topaz. Imperial Topaz is one of the expensive varieties of Topaz. Citrine is often confused with this color of Topaz. There is, however, a big price difference between Citrine and Topaz, the latter being much more valuable. Topaz can also be red, orange-brown, brown (Smoky Topaz), green, and pink.

The modern era has given us many new advances in gems. One of the biggest is blue Topaz. Gem suppliers use a neutron bombardment method in a nuclear reactor to produce the London Blue Topaz. An electron bombardment in a linear accelerator results in the light Sky Blue Topaz. If both treatments are used, they produce Swiss Blue Topaz. Determining where one color ends and the next color begins is always a hard call in gemology. The rule of thumb is simply that the light blue is Sky, the middle blue is Swiss, and the dark blue is London.

This blue Topaz is the result of bombardment at the subatomic level.
This blue Topaz is the result of bombardment at the subatomic level.

Mystic Topaz is a very interesting gem. The play of rainbow-like colors is definitely unique and enjoyable to see. A new treatment process called Vapor Deposition has been developed to create this additional color of Topaz. This is the same treatment process used to put coatings on lenses. A thin colored film is bonded on the surface of Topaz to create all the colors you see in Mystic Topaz. These enhanced Topaz pieces must be handled with special care because the coating can be scratched and the gem ruined very easily.

Topaz itself is a hard gemstone with a Mohs hardness of 8. Mohs hardness is a standardized metric of how difficult it is to scratch something. Diamond is 10 and Corundum (Sapphire and Ruby) is 9 on the scale. Other notable gems are Emerald 7.5-8, Quartz 7, Tanzanite 6-7, Ivory 2.5, and Pearl 2.5-4.

  1. White Topaz Cathedral Ring

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    London Blue Topaz Bezel Stud Earrings

    London Blue Topaz Bezel Stud Earrings

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    Satin Channel Set Modern Blue Topaz Pendant

    Satin Channel Set Modern Blue Topaz Pendant

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Even though it’s tough to scratch, you should protect your Topaz from hard knocks. It can be split with a single sharp blow, a trait it shares with Diamond. Clean with mild dish soap; use a toothbrush to scrub behind the stone where dust can collect. Topaz is the birthstone for November (and Blue Topaz is a birthstone for December), and we have a variety of Topaz jewelry in stock at our everyday low prices. They make great gifts for anyone born in November or December, and for anyone that just likes beautiful jewelry, so stop by today.

What people are saying

  1. Laurel Phares says:

    Buying jewels is a learning experience. Thank you

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