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Topaz Meaning, Properties, Facts and Photos

the mineral topaz

1. Meaning of Topaz
2. Properties of Topaz
2. What Colour is Topaz?
3. World's Largest Blue Topaz
4. Topaz Healing Properties
5. Article Pictures
6. Shop Topaz

Meaning of Topaz

The meaning of 'topaz' is believed to come from a small island in the Red Sea once known as Topazios.  It lies off the coast of Egypt and is known today as St.John's Island or Zabargad in Arabic.

Another theory for the meaning of topaz is that it comes from the Sanskrit word 'topas' meaning 'heat' or 'fire'.

It's not known whether topaz was even known to ancient civilizations.  Historians believe the name topazos was actually a reference to the mineral olivine although it's not possible to know for certain.

The gemstone peridot which comes from olivine is known to have been available in abundance on the island of Topazios.  Topaz was never found there.

The ancient Roman author, naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote about finding 'topazos' on St John's Island in his encyclopaedia Naturalis Historia.

Topaz can be traced back even further and is mentioned in the Old Testament in the Book of Exodus.  A topaz is said to have been one of the twelve gemstones in the high priest breastplate.

In both references the stone referred to as topaz is believed to have been peridot.fine topaz mineral specimen

Properties of Topaz

Topaz grades 8 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.  Mohs scale is a tool that grades the resistance of one mineral when being scratched by another.  Although topaz is one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals it's also very fragile.

Hardness and toughness in relation to rocks and minerals is not the same.

Topaz breaks easily along specific planes of weakness in its crystal structure.  In geology this is known as cleavage.  This characteristic along with the fact that topaz chips easily makes cutting and polishing more difficult.

Flaws or inclusions can increase the chances of topaz cleaving.  It's sensitive to heat and can break or shatter even when being heated gently at relatively low temperatures.

Carrying out a repair to a piece of jewellery featuring a topaz gemstone is difficult and risky.  Pressure or a sudden change in temperature can lead to the stone becoming damaged.

Topaz can be found in several countries around the world.  The state of Minas Gerais (which means general mines) in Brazil has long been the world's largest supplier.

According to the modern, traditional and ayurvedic birthstone charts topaz is the birthstone for November.   On the modern and traditional chart citrine may be used as an alternative.

Pearl is the birthstone for November on the mystical birthstone chart.

Blue topaz is the birthstone for December on the modern chart with turquoise being an alternative.colourless topaz stone

What Colour is Topaz?

Although topaz can be found in a wide range of colours the vast majority is colourless.  Red, pink, violet and purple come from impurities of chromium.  It can also be found in white, yellow, grey, blue, orange, brown and green.

Topaz is a silicate mineral made up of aluminium and fluorine. 

Blue topaz does occur naturally but is extremely rare.  The vast majority is produced by heating colourless or white topaz.

Depending on how topaz is heated three different shades of blue can be produced.  Stones can be heated through conventional methods in an industrial oven or through exposure to different types of radiation.  In some cases both methods are used.

Although many gemstones are irradiated the practice is mostly associated with topaz.

The light blue coloured stone known as Sky Blue topaz is the most popular.  London Blue has a more intense colour with a darker tone and deep saturation.  Swiss Blue has an almost electric blue colour.
blue topaz cut gemstonesColourless topaz was first irradiated to produce a blue stone in 1947. Exposure to heat changes a mineral's chemical composition which is the reason it changes colour.

Scientists believe gemstones that have been exposed to radiation pose no risk to human health.  Before being handled they must be securely stored away to allow any measurable levels of radiation to decay.

Sky Blue topaz is usually left untouched for a couple of months.  London and Swiss Blue are left for considerably longer which is why these gemstones are more expensive.

By using conventional heat any colour of topaz can be enhanced.  This method of heating is used to add warmth to blue topaz after it's been irradiated.  At just 500 degrees celsius (932°F) the colour of blue topaz begins to fade.

When yellow to reddish-brown topaz is heated at a relatively low temperature, if impurities of chromium are present it turns a rich shade of pink or purplish-red. 

Green and orange topaz turn blue after being heated at various temperatures.  Orange topaz turns a very dark or rich shade of blue.

Another reason for heating topaz is because in many cases its natural colour can be bleached by sunlight.  This is particularly prevalent with brown topaz from Siberia and Utah.

World's Largest Blue Topaz

Historically all yellow coloured gemstones were believed to be topaz.  Only in the last two hundred years or so was it discovered other minerals could also be yellow.

Yellow sapphire for many years was called oriental topaz.  Even today some varieties of quartz particularly citrine and smoky quartz are incorrectly labelled as topaz. 

Topaz and quartz are different minerals.

The Ostro stone is the largest cut blue topaz gemstone in the world.  This flawless gem weighs approximately two kilogrammes.  It was cut from material mined in Minas Gerais in Brazil and was heat treated prior to being cut.the ostro stone a huge Swiss Blue Topaz on display in Londons Natural History Museum

Topaz Crystal Healing Properties

When used for its healing properties topaz cleanses the aura and deepens relaxation.  A wonderfully mellow stone it soothes the mind, heals the body and recharges energy lost through stress, tension and fatigue.

Topaz promotes the truth, embraces forgiveness and helps rebuild broken friendships.

A happy and positive stone that drives away negative thoughts, it instills confidence and promotes openness and honesty.

On a mental level topaz encourages wisdom, aids problem solving and has the capacity to see the bigger picture.

For those going through a significant change in life topaz offers comfort and support.  It can also help stabilise emotions that arise from uncertainty.

Article Pictures

The topaz at the top of our article is a museum piece from Pakistan. The colourless topaz in the second picture is on display in the Natural History Museum Los Angeles.

The topaz in the third picture is from Utah, USA. The second and third photos are courtesy of Stan Celestian.

The Sky blue topaz gemstones are from our collection.

Pictures are clickable and redirect to the original image.

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