The stone for strength and success, Topaz has been valued throughout history for its magical prowess, not to mention its beauty. Although Blue Topaz may be the most common variety found in retail stores, consumers may not always be aware that this color is rarely found in nature and stones are almost always color enhanced – some consumers might not even know that other colors exist.
The name Topaz was derived from an island in the Red Sea “Topazos”, today called Zabargad, the ancient source of Peridot. This gem is an aluminum silicate with varying amounts of fluorine and hydroxyl. Although this stone measures a high 8 on MOH’s scale of hardness it is not necessarily a ‘tough’ stone due to its perfect basal cleavage. Cleavage refers to a stone’s tendency to ‘cleave’ or ‘split’ along certain crystallographic structural planes due to a weakness in their atomic bonds. Although a gemstone doesn’t necessarily become weak because of perfect cleavage, the gem cutter and jeweler must practice caution to ensure cleavage does not occur. In Topaz’s case, the cleavage occurs in one direction parallel to the basal plane and stones are best cut at a 12 - 15% off this cleavage plane.
Crystallizing in the orthorhombic crystal system, Topaz crystals are generally well-formed prisms with striations parallel to the c-axis (length of the crystal). Crystals are terminated with domes and pyramids which make them easy to confuse with Danburite which shares an almost identical crystal form. Topaz crystals occur mainly in felsic igneous rocks such as Granite, Granite Pegmatite and Rhyolite and often found in veins and cavities in such rocks. When fashioned, Topaz gemstones (particularly blue/colorless) are often free of visible inclusions or flaws and because of their elongated crystals, Topaz crystal jewelry is mostly fashioned into pears, ovals and rectangles to yield more carat weight.
Topaz, when in its purest state, is colorless and owes its varying hues to impurities, defects in the crystal structure or enhancements by the gemstone industry rather than an element of its basic chemical composition. Although, Topaz does also come in a wide variety of colors naturally, from yellow, orange, brown, pink, red, purple red, blue, light green and colorless, it is the man-made shades of blue and the natural rich golden tones of “Imperial” Topaz that has always received the most attention.
In nature, Topaz is mostly commonly colorless with naturally occurring strong blue gems being extremely rare. In the marketplace, they are plentiful due to color treatments being common practice. A combination of radiation and heat has been used to produce blue hues since 1970. This irradiation is perfectly safe as a “cooling down” period is taken into account. This is an acceptable treatment and should be assumed for all blue colored Topaz gemstones. The deepest of blues with a slight green tone is known as “London Blue”, a vivid medium blue is known as “Swiss Blue” and (my favorite) a light but bright icy-toned blue is known as “Sky Blue”.
Imperial topaz is a golden yellow, pink to orangey-red color, and these colors are due to the presence of iron and chromium. First discovered in the Ural Mountains in Russia during the nineteenth century, pink and Red Topaz were reserved exclusively for the family of the czar hence its ‘imperial’ title. Today industry dealers state that stones must exhibit specific pleochroic colors to be classified as imperial topaz otherwise they are simply named Golden Topaz, as they lack the prized overtones. Our Imperial topaz rings here at Made in Earth have often been used to custom make engagement rings due to its warm caramel hue and the way it complements the skin. It is also not uncommon for an Imperial Topaz ring to be purchased off the display in one of our galleries and worn as an engagement ring.
Bunny Bedi, owner and designer at Made in Earth discusses his newest gem to his ever- growing collection. “Imperial Topaz is something we’ve always been asked for however the color and price of Citrine has always been more desirable to our clients… until now. The delicate honey hued Topaz crystals are the perfect addition to our collection and this November birthstone has arrived right in time!”
We are excited to have Imperial Topaz in our ever-expanding gemstone jewelry collection, although limited; the bracelets, pendants and rings we have on display are truly amazing, especially in their raw crystal form.
There is also something breathtakingly beautiful about the clarity and electric colors of Topaz, even when the stone has been treated. Therefore, as long as treatments are disclosed then this stone is all right by me. And when you see our Blue Topaz crystal jewelry collection we think you will agree too!