Topaz: The Imperial Gemstone
The topaz comes in many different colors, however most commonly it is colorless or brownish. The topaz is mostly associated with the color yellow.
This is quite surprising, because yellow is no longer is the most popular color. White topaz and blue topaz have seen a dramatic rise in popularity in the past decade.
The topaz has been in use for over 2000 years and recently new heating techniques have only increased its popularity.
What is Topaz?
A topaz is a silicate mineral made up of aluminium and fluorine. Due to the way it bonds it is the strongest of the silicate minerals. However because of the internal structure, it can easily fracture.
If you own one of these gemstones, make sure to protect it against hard blows. Dropping one could possibly ruin it.
Topaz can be found in very large crystals which can weigh up to several tons. However most of these crystals are not of gem quality and have little economic value. Usually they are split up and sold to collectors.
The most used color in topaz jewelry is blue, though white and yellow are not far behind. The main reason for the popularity of blue and white topaz is a very simple one: price.
White topaz is cheap because it’s the most common color that this gemstone is found in. Blue topaz, while quite rare in nature, can be created by irradiating and heating colorless topaz making it one of the cheaper colors. Because of this a blue or white topaz engagement ring will usually be far cheaper than a yellow or pink variety.
Other colors such as yellow and pink are quite rare in nature as well. But these can also be created by heating colorless or brown topaz. This is more rare in the case of the yellow topaz as a cheaper alternative in the form of citrines is available. In fact citrines have actually become known under the name ‘gold topaz’ even though it actually is a variety of quartz.
Fancy color topazes usually get Imperial added to their name, as they are rare and quite expensive. In the US however, Imperial is only used for the color peach as this color cannot be recreated by heating brown or white topaz.
Mystic topaz, known for displaying all colors of the rainbow, is a colorless topaz that has been given an artificial coating to gain the color. It is a beautiful gemstone, but don’t let the seller convince you it’s a natural stone. Not a single mystic topaz has ever been found in nature!
Taking Care of Your Topaz Gemstones
Because the topaz is one of the harder gemstones around they can be cleaned fairly easy. The usual lukewarm water and soap works wonders. But if that doesn’t seem to do the trick you can use an ultrasonic or steam jewelry cleaner.
While the gemstone itself can easily withstand the process, make sure if you use it on jewelry that the cleaning product you use doesn’t affect the metal. Silver for example can react poorly to certain chemicals that are in most normal detergents.
Topaz Buying Guide
Nowadays it is hard to find a natural topaz, these will usually have ‘pure’ added to the name. So when you are offered a topaz gemstone, make sure you are dealing with a pure gemstone and not a cheaper alternative gemstone such as a citrine or even treated yellow quartz.
Take a look at this guide to buying gemstones online if you’d like more general tips on buying gemstones.
Most commercially available topazes are heat-treated to gain or deepen their color. Untreated fancy (meaning colored) topaz is very rare and should be expensive. Make sure you are dealing with an untreated natural gemstone when the seller claims it is natural.
There is nothing wrong with buying treated gemstones, in fact they often offer great quality for a very good price. But you should not be paying a natural price while getting a treated product.
The easiest way to do this is by shopping at a store, online or brick and mortar, with a high reputation. Chances are you might end up with a treated topaz, a citrine or even yellow quartz otherwise.