blue topaz

Blue topaz is an eye catching semi precious stone which is popular for use in ladies jewellery.  It comes in three different shades of blue each with its own name but the colour of all three are the result of heat treatment.  Sky Blue Topaz is the lightest and it's also the most well known, Swiss and London Blue Topaz have a much richer colour and are not seen as frequently hence tend to be slightly more expensive.  The name topaz may have come from the island of Topazios (aka St. John's Island, Zabargad and Zebirget) which lies just off the coast of Egypt in the Red Sea or it could have come from the Sanskrit word "tapaz" meaning "fire".  There is uncertainty as to whether it was known to ancient civilizations or whether the name "Topazos" actually referred to olivine which is the mineral form of peridot, this is known to have been available in abundance on the island of Topazios.  What is known is that the name topaz has been around for thousands of years and it's mentioned in the Old Testament in the Book of Exodus where it is said to have been one of the stones in the breastplate of the high priest, however that is believed to most likely have been a peridot.  Topaz is found in many different colours and in 1750, a French jeweller discovered that the yellow variety changed to pink when exposed to heat.  Although natural pink and blue gemstones are available, they are extremely rare so more often than not, clear topaz is heat treated to create the colour of choice.  Another reason for using heat is because in many cases, the stone's natural colour is bleached by sunlight and this is particularly prevalent with the brown variety from Siberia and Utah.  Temperature and the method of heating will always be the deciding factor in the final colour of the stone.  Sky Blue Topaz can sometimes be confused for fine grade aquamarine but this gem is significantly more expensive and larger sizes are extremely rare.

The finest grade of clear topaz when faceted, can sometimes be mistaken for a diamond and in fact the Braganza Diamond (1,640 carats) in the Portuguese Crown, was believed during the 17th century to be the largest Diamond ever to be found but it is now thought that it's actually a colourless topaz.

Citrine and smoky quartz are often referred to as golden and smoky topaz which is completely incorrect as quartz is a totally different mineral.  Even though incrorrect, this term continues to be used because it often increases the value of cheaper gemstones.  Having said that, Yellow Sapphire was referred to as oriental topaz for many years.

Although found in many locations worldwide, the Minas Gerais area of Brazil is the premier supplier of fine grade topaz and the world's largest preserved crystal weighing 271kg's comes from there.  A 385 ton stone was found in 1944 at Mugui, Espirito Santo which is also in Brazil.  The first modern use of the name "topaz" occurred in 1737 and made reference to the yellow crystals from Saxony, a region in Germany.   

Popular for use in crystal healing where it's known as "the stone of love and good fortune", it is excellent for cleaning the aura and for 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 around it for long.  The blue variety also connects to the angels of truth and wisdom, strengthens the third eye and throat chakras and assists with verbalization of thoughts and feelings.

On Mohs scale of mineral hardness topaz grades 8.  Citrine and topaz are both birthstones for the month of November.  Blue topaz is one of the modern birthstones for December with the other being turquoise

Further Reading:
Wikipedia on topaz
What is topaz? -