TOPAZ: November Birthstone
Topaz is one of the birthstones for the month of November and is the gem of the 23rd anniversary. Most authorities agree that the name topaz comes from Topazios, the old Greek name for a small island in the Red Sea, now called Zabargad. (The island never produced topaz, but it was once a source of peridot, which was confused with topaz before the development of modern mineralogy.) Some scholars trace the origin back to Sanskrit (an ancient language of India) and the word topas or tapaz, meaning “fire.”
The name for imperial topaz originated in nineteenth-century Russia. At the time, the Ural Mountains were topaz’s leading source, and the pink gemstone mined there was named to honor the Russian czar. Ownership of the gem was restricted to the royal family. Today, topaz is one of the US birthstones for November. The other is citrine quartz.
TOPAZ QUALITY FACTORS
- Red is one of the most sought-after topaz colors and represents less than one-half of 1 percent of facet-grade material found. The color the trade calls imperial topaz is highly prized and very rare. Many dealers insist that a stone must show a reddish pleochroic color to be called imperial topaz. The reddish pleochroic color often appears at the ends of fashioned gems—like pears and ovals—that have an otherwise yellow-to-orange body color.
- A fashioned topaz that displays a combination of two colors is called bicolor topaz.
- Some say that pink topaz, often called rose topaz, resembles a pink diamond or a bright pink sapphire. Pink topaz has certain advantages over these two gems. It’s much less expensive than pink diamond, and it’s often available in larger sizes than either diamond or sapphire.
- Dealers often use the trade term “sherry topaz” for yellowish brown or brownish yellow to orange topaz. The term comes from the color of sherry wine. Stones in that color range are also sometimes called precious topaz. This helps distinguish them from less expensive citrine and smoky quartz, both of which look similar to, and are frequently misrepresented as, topaz.
- Golden or yellow topaz lacks the prized red overtones of imperial topaz. It’s also much more abundant and therefore less valuable. Although brown topaz is also less valuable, it has been used in striking pieces of jewelry and ornamental art.
- In nature, topaz is most commonly colorless, and naturally strong blue gems are extremely rare. In the marketplace, however, strong blue shades are plentiful. Treatments are the reason for this. Treaters use a combination of radiation and heat to produce blue hues in topaz. Since the 1970s, treatments have brought blue topaz to a broad market.
- CLARITY. Fashioned topaz gems are often free of visible inclusions or flaws. This especially true of blue, colorless, and yellow topaz.
- CUT. Because topaz crystals are usually elongated or columnar, they’re often cut as long oval or pear shapes to improve yield. If the rough is strongly colored, the cutter often chooses the emerald cut because that cutting style maximizes color and retains the most weight. Topaz is cut in a wide variety of shapes and cutting styles. Production includes all the standard gem shapes such as ovals, pears, rounds, cushions, triangles, marquise, and emerald cuts as well as designer-inspired fantasy shapes. Cutting styles are also well represented. Brilliant cuts with triangular and kite-shaped facets, step cuts with concentric rows of parallel facets, and mixed cuts usually consisting of brilliant-cut crowns and step-cut pavilions are all common. Designer cuts fashioned by hand and machine are popular, too. Because there is an abundant supply of treated blue topaz, it’s often cut into calibrated sizes for use in mass market and multi-stone jewelry.
- CARAT WEIGHT. Standard topaz cuts for the jewelry industry include a wide range of shapes and sizes. The gem is inexpensive in smaller sizes, but prices rise for gems above 10×8 mm.
Topaz Jewelry in Boca Raton
Now that you know a little bit more about the history of this November birthstone and where it can be found, you just might be inspired to add some topaz jewelry to your collection. Stop by our jewelry store in Boca Raton to view our beautiful selection of topaz jewelry.
To learn more about November's second birthstone CITRINE... [ click here ]