Topaz Stone | Properties and Meaning
Topaz often Heat Treated
Topaz is a silicate mineral made up of aluminium and fluorine whose crystals form within igneous rocks. Although it can be found in a variety of different colours the vast majority of natural topaz is colourless. These stones are often heat treated which brings about a change in colour. Red, pink, violet and purple is caused by the presence of chromium but it can also be white, yellow, grey, blue, orange, brown or green. Blue is extremely rare so the vast majority of blue topaz has been heated. Depending on the type of treatment applied, three different shades can be created and each has its own name. Sky blue is the lightest and most well known variety whilst Swiss and London blue have a deeper, richer colour and are not seen as often. They're also considerably more expensive because of the type of treatment they've been exposed to.
Another reason for using heat to change or enhance the colour of topaz is because in many cases its natural colour can be bleached by sunlight which is particularly prevalent with the brown variety from Siberia and Utah. Temperature and the method of heating will always be the deciding factor for the stone's colour. Sky blue topaz can sometimes be confused for fine grade aquamarine but this blue variety of the mineral beryl is considerably more expensive and large stones are extremely rare.
The Name Topaz
Historically all yellow coloured gemstones were believed to be topaz and it's only in the last two hundred years or so that it was discovered that other minerals could also occur with a yellow colouration some of which include quartz, beryl, corundum and peridot. Yellow sapphire was for many years referred to as oriental topaz. Despite quartz and topaz being two completely different minerals, citrine and smoky quartz are still occasionally referred to as golden and smoky topaz.
The name is believed to have originated from a small island in the Red Sea just off the coast of Egypt once known as Topazios. Today it's known as St. John's Island or Zabargad in Arabic. Another theory is that it came from the Sanskrit word "topas" meaning "heat" or "fire". There is some uncertainty as to whether topaz was even known to ancient civilizations or whether the name Topazios was actually a reference to olivine which is the mineral form of peridot. Peridot is known to have been available in abundance on the island at that time whereas topaz was never found there.
The name topaz has been around for thousands of years and is mentioned in the Old Testament in the Book of Exodus as being one of the twelve gemstones in the high priest breastplate. The stone however is likely to have been peridot.
Topaz Birthstone for November
Although a relatively hard stone which grades 8 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness it's worth noting that Mohs scale compares the scratch resistance of one stone against another and does not relate to its toughness. The reason that's relevant is because topaz is actually quite fragile and has a tendency to fracture or break easily along certain plains of the crystal which can make working with it particularly challenging.
Stones can be found in several locations around the world but the Minas Gerais area of Brazil has long been the world's largest supplier.
Popular for use in crystal healing where it's known as "the stone of love and good fortune", it's excellent for cleansing the aura and inducing relaxation. It releases tension at any level and cuts through doubt and uncertainty. It's a happy and positive crystal hence negativity does not survive for long around it. Blue topaz connects to the angels of truth and wisdom and strengthens the third eye and throat chakras. It also assists with verbalization of thoughts and feelings.
Topaz is one of the birthstones for the month of November with the other being citrine. Blue topaz is the modern birthstone for December with the other being turquoise.
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Further ReadingThe World's Largest Stone
Information from Geology.com