You’ve probably heard of topaz, but there’s more to this stone than meets the eye. Topaz stone is a transparent mineral that comes in a variety of colors, including a colorless form. The most well-known topaz colors are blue and orange.
Topaz is beloved worldwide, but two U.S. states have made this love official. Both Texas and Utah claim topaz as their official state gem. Texas chose to honor blue topaz, while Utah pays tribute to orange topaz.
Topaz has even been referenced in many historical works. Famed Irish poet Thomas Parnell even named one of his characters Sir Topaz in his 1714 work A Fairy Tale in the Ancient English Style.
If you’ve heard of Dante’s Divine Comedy, you may know the third part of the work, Paradiso. After meeting a heavenly soul, the narrator praises her kindness with a topaz metaphor:
“Save in my heart, for this paternal welcome. Truly do I entreat thee, living topaz!”
But what makes topaz so legendary? In this guide, you’ll find everything you’ve ever wanted to know and more about topaz stone.
Anyone familiar with birthstones will recognize topaz as the birthstone for November and December. While November babies can show their pride with a warm orange topaz, those with December birthdays can get into the winter spirit with an icy blue topaz.
Lucky members of the Sagittarius zodiac sign, who fall between November and December, can celebrate their birthday with a topaz zodiac stone in any dazzling color!
Celebrating an anniversary instead? Blue topaz is the traditional gemstone of 4th wedding anniversaries, while yellow or imperial topaz commemorates 23rd anniversaries.
If you have a loved one approaching one of these milestones, why not gift them a topaz stone in their favorite color?
Topaz is a nesosilicate mineral of aluminum and fluorine known for its stunning clarity and array of colors. From romantic pinks and reds to serene blues and greens, there’s a topaz stone for everyone!
While topaz comes in a variety of colors, the stone itself is allochromatic. In other words, in its purest natural form, topaz is colorless. Distinct varieties of topaz occur because of impurities during formation or treatments performed on the stone.
Here are the key topaz varieties:
Imperial Topaz. The most valuable form of topaz, found in saturated orange, pink, and coral shades.
Sherry Topaz. Sometimes considered a type of imperial topaz, named for its yellow-brown to orange tones that resemble sherry wine.
Azotic Topaz. A topaz treated with the patented Azotic process to display a multi-colored array of warm-toned hues.
Mystic Topaz. A topaz enhanced through chemical vapor deposition to give its surface a kaleidoscopic display of rich, cool-toned colors.
On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, topaz is the reference stone for an 8 rating. With such a high ranking, topaz is one of the hardest semi-precious gemstones on earth.
Chemical compound: Fluo-silicate of aluminum
Mohs scale: 8
Color: Naturally colorless or bronze to yellow; Can also be shades of red, orange, yellow, green, pink, blue, or light gray
Crystal structure: Orthorhombic
Luster: Vitreous (glass-like)
Transparency: Most often transparent, but can be translucent
Refractive index: 1.61-1.65, but may vary by color
Density: 3.49-3.57; Can vary slightly by color
Cleavage: Perfect 1 direction; Basal
Luminescence: Present; UV Fluorescence - UV Short in yellow, UV Long in beige
Pleochroism: Present; Varies by stone color
What about the mystical side? What is the spiritual meaning of topaz?
The origin of the word “topaz” isn’t crystal-clear. The word probably derives from the Greek topazien, an ancient name for St. John’s Island. Topazien could be rooted in the Sanskrit word tapas, meaning “fire,” for the flame-like yellows of the island’s topaz.
While the island’s crystals were more likely chrysolite, the name “topaz” described any yellow gemstone at the time. Topaz wasn’t assigned to the specific mineral until 1737.
The name “imperial topaz” comes from 19th century Russia. The Ural Mountains produced gorgeous pink and coral-colored topaz stones at this time. To honor the Czar, “imperial” was assigned to the Russian variety. Some say only the Czar’s family were allowed to own imperial topaz.
Other cultures have their own meanings for topaz. For instance, both ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks associated topaz with their sun gods.
Egyptians connected the stone to Ra, while Greeks tied topaz to Apollo. Ra and Apollo both represented strength and vitality, so topaz served as a symbol for these traits.
In Hindu cosmology, topaz represents Jupiter. Topaz is one of the nine gems in the Hindu talisman navaratna, each gem representing a celestial body. When the gems are worn together, the talisman represents the power and harmony of the universe.
During the Renaissance, topaz was associated with Neoplatonism, symbolizing the soul’s connection to the universe.
The soul’s place in the universe is also relevant to topaz’s meaning in Indian culture. A long-held belief in India states that wearing a topaz stone over your heart can give you wisdom and a long life.
Wisdom and a long life? Sign us up! But beyond that, what is topaz used for?
You’ve probably guessed that topaz stone benefits throughout history were abundant. Topaz amulets and potions were often used as medicine or protection from witchcraft. Some even believed wearing topaz could make you invisible!
St. Hildegard, a medieval German polymath, recommended soaking topaz in wine for a few days and rubbing it on the eyes as a “cure for dim vision.”
We wouldn’t recommend putting wine-soaked gemstones on your eyes, but topaz has plenty of other uses as a healing crystal.
Topaz can help relieve physical ailments like arthritis, chest pain, and indigestion. Many folks today also follow the Indian belief that topaz can give you a longer life.
Insomnia or nightmares giving you grief?
Place topaz under your pillow for a more peaceful slumber. Once you’re well-rested, topaz can get the creative juices flowing, helping you focus and trust your intuition.
What are the benefits of wearing topaz?
Traditionally, wearing a topaz amulet on your left arm can protect you from curses or bad vibes. A topaz ring is also purported to stave off envy and temptation.
If you prefer chakra healing, topaz is perfect for the solar plexus chakra. The solar plexus chakra is the center of self-discovery and inner drive. When the chakra is blocked, we retreat out of fear and self-doubt. Topaz can activate the chakra, giving us the charisma and willpower to achieve our loftiest goals!
Before you rush out to get a powerful topaz of your own, take a look at the buying factors you’ll want to know first.
A gemstone’s value comes down to how its traits are graded. Topaz’s buying factors include its cut, color, clarity, carat weight, and treatment.
Color is arguably the most important element of topaz value. Many gemstones are valued more in their natural states, but colorless topaz is actually the least valuable form.
Yellow and brown topaz stones get their color from a defect called color centers. Orange topaz occurs because of color centers and the presence of chromium. All three warm-toned stones are fairly common but still admired.
Blue topaz has taken the world by storm, but did you know it’s rare to find naturally blue topaz stones? The three most popular blue topaz shades, in order from lightest to darkest, are sky blue, Swiss blue, and London blue. Each of these shades get their color from treatments like irradiation and heating.
Some of the rarest natural topaz colors are pink, red, and gold. When chromium replaces aluminum during the stone’s formation, you get pink or red topaz. Red topaz is actually so rare, it only accounts for under 1% of all facetable topaz.
Topaz’s brilliant clarity and impressive durability mean the stone can take virtually any cut. The most popular faceted cuts for topaz include oval, round, pear, and step cuts. When the rough material is particularly saturated, an emerald cut may be employed.
Clarity is one of the most important factors for topaz value after color. For colored gemstones, clarity is categorized rather than graded.
Most topaz stones have Type I clarity, meaning the stone is eye-clean with no inclusions visible to the naked eye. The only topaz gems that are Type II are azotic, mystic, and rutilated topaz.
Topaz has a fairly low refractive index, so larger specimens don’t sparkle and gleam the way other gems do.
With topaz, bigger is better in terms of value. Small topaz gems are more affordable than large ones, which isn’t always the case with gemstones.
If you’ve seen topaz in a museum, you may know that giant topaz specimens exist worldwide. In fact, topaz crystals can weigh hundreds of pounds. The world’s largest faceted gemstone, the El-Dorado Topaz, weighs 31,000 carats!
The most common colors for giant topazes are light yellow and blue. However, certain topaz colors are easier to find in smaller sizes. For instance, it’s difficult to find pink topaz that weighs more than 5 carats.
The most common treatments for topaz are heat treatments and irradiation. These treatments create more saturated colors, sometimes changing the gem’s color completely.
We discussed mystic and azotic topaz already, but these topaz gems get their prism of colors from common surface coating treatments. What about pink and red topaz; how do they get such brilliant color? We can thank heat treatments for those rich hues!
Blue topaz is in such high demand, most of the stones on the market are treated. The process usually involves irradiating topaz rough before heating it to a gorgeous blue color.
Another procedure used on blue topaz is a diffusion treatment that creates color-fused topaz. The treatment was invented in Sri Lanka in 2004.
Let’s go a little further back than 2004 to see topaz’s impressive role throughout history.
Topaz has made an impression all over the world throughout time, from ancient Rome to the present day. Topaz was beloved for its rarity, which lasted until Brazil’s abundant deposits were found in the mid-1800s.
Starting in ancient Rome, topaz was often used by travelers in this era. Romans believed the stone could protect one from danger, as well as make you warmer. Anyone who has traveled by foot in the cold knows warmth and safety are paramount!
The Middle Ages brought new beliefs about topaz’s spiritual power. Specific carvings on topaz had manifesting abilities. According to Medieval author Ragiel, a falcon design on topaz “helps to acquire the goodwill of kings, princes, and magnates.”
Many rulers have flaunted topaz as well. Imperial Topaz was obviously beloved Russian czars, but Portuguese royalty also held imperial topaz in esteem. Several German rulers after the Middle Ages wore yellow Saxonian topaz pieces in their accessories.
During the Renaissance Era, topaz was a source of composure and protection. Europeans at the time believed topaz could calm tempers and even “diminish madness.”
Metaphysical uses for topaz were also prevalent in Africa. African healing ceremonies used topaz to connect the mortal realm to the spirit realm. Bushmen shamans considered topaz sacred and carried the stone while traveling.
Speaking of traveling, where and how is topaz formed in the first place?
Topaz can form in many places underground. Vapor cavities, high-temperature veins, contact zones, and alluvial deposits are some of the areas topaz occurs.
What type of rock is topaz found in? Topaz often forms inside igneous rocks rich in silica, particularly granite and rhyolite. Two places you can find these topaz-rich rocks are Utah’s Topaz Mountain and Argentina.
Within igneous rocks, topaz forms through a crystallization process. In the last phase of this process, vapors containing fluorine complete the process, creating topaz.
From there, we just have to dig up the topaz stones. So, where is topaz most commonly found?
The most productive mines for facetable topaz are in Brazil, particularly the Ouro Region. While imperial topaz was reportedly first mined in Russia, Brazil has since become the leading producer of imperial topaz.
Other abundant include those in:
U.S. (notably Utah, Colorado, and Texas)
Many topaz-producing countries unearth specific topaz colors more than others. To make it easier, we’ll list each topaz stone by color by which locations are known for sourcing it.
Yellow topaz: Brazil, Germany, and Sri Lanka
Blue topaz: Brazil, Russia, Australia, Texas, and Colorado
Pink topaz: Russia, Pakistan, and Myanmar
Sherry topaz: Mexico, Utah, and Russia
Colorless topaz: Brazil, Australia, Mexico, and Colorado
With all the options to choose from, you may be wondering how much topaz price differs from stone to stone. Let’s break that down next!
When discussing carat weight, size plays a role in how much topaz costs. Other factors include the stone’s color, namely how rare and saturated it is. First things first, is topaz expensive? The short answer: it depends.
The longer answer? Some topaz is incredibly rare and commands high prices, like imperial topaz or red topaz. Common varieties, like colorless or blue topaz, are abundant and budget-friendly.
The typical price for faceted blue topaz with good saturation is between $6-$17 per carat. Colorless topaz is usually $8 per carat or less, though faceted pieces can be around $14 per carat.
Faceted imperial topaz can be anywhere from $100 per carat to over $1,000 per carat. Keep in mind that wholesale prices will still be lower, usually between $100-$600 per carat for imperial topaz.
Red topaz takes the cake, however. While red topaz is nearly always under 5 carats, it can cost up to $3,500 per carat.
If you’re committing to a valuable stone like topaz, you’ll want it to last for generations to come. Read on to learn how best to take care of your topaz stone.
As you know, topaz is a tough stone. However, topaz’s perfect cleavage means that enough force can cause the stone to break. Protective settings for faceted topaz can keep the stone safer, but it’s best to handle the stone delicately.
To avoid fractures, only clean topaz with a soft brush, warm water, and mild soap. Strong vibrations and high temperatures are a no-no, so avoid ultrasonic or steam cleaners. Be sure your topaz stone doesn’t go through sudden temperature changes either.
Is topaz good for everyday wear?
Most topaz is suitable for everyday wear, but we recommend not wearing topaz jewelry during vigorous activities.
Mystic topaz takes extra special care. The gem’s surface coating can be scraped, so we recommend only cleaning mystic topaz with a mild soap solution--no buffing or brushing.
For most topaz stones, color fading isn’t common. However, topaz in yellow to brown shades can be more susceptible. It’s best to keep these gems from cooking in the sun for long.
Topaz stone has been revered for centuries, and we’re confident that trend won’t stop any time soon. This gem is the pinnacle of versatility, from its myriad of colors to its many uses over time.
On a personal level, topaz reminds us that our “imperfections” aren’t flaws; they’re what sets us apart. Without the stone’s impurities, we wouldn’t see all its brilliant colors!
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Thank you for the information, I'm a novice when it comes to this particular area of knowledge. Touches on enough points to cover general questions such as caring for, vibrational frequency (healing properties), origin and compositional makeup of topaz. And some points that piqued my interest enough to do further research on my own.