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What Is a Topaz? | Bixler’s Gemstone Guide

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What is topaz-BIXLER

Topaz is a sporadic silicate mineral that has a chemical formula of Al2SiO4 (F, OH)2. The gemstone comprises up to 20% fluorine or water. So basically what is topaz?. It is a popular gemstone that features desirable colors, a great amount of hardness for extreme durability and is mostly available. It has Mohs hardness of 8 making it one of the hardest minerals that occur naturally. The name Topaz originates from the Greek word topazion and Sanskrit word tapas to mean fire. The Egyptian Island also refers to it as topazos to mean the same.

Yellow topaz is the birthstone for people born in November whereas the Blue topaz has December as its birthstone. The gem is said to provide calmness and serenity, love and affection and also bring sweet disposition to the wearer. Due to its availability, the gemstone is extremely affordable and popular around the world.

What Color Is a Topaz Gemstone?

Topaz is a precious gemstone that comes in various, gorgeous colors that are all appealing to the eye. The color of a topaz will woo the customer from buying it and since it forms different hues, it can become quite difficult making a purchase. Featuring stunning hues, topaz comes in different types and only six have been identified. These include imperial, sherry, yellow, brown, white, and blue topaz.

  • Imperial topaz: This is a rare type of topaz and exhibits a yellow to orange hues with a few red overtones. Being a unique piece, imperial topaz is the most expensive in the category.
  • Sherry topaz: It gets its name from the sherry wine that comes in yellow-brown or brown-yellow to orange color.
  • Yellow topaz: It is a yellow-orange topaz that is readily available.
  • Brown topaz: This type features brown hues and can be mistaken for smoky quartz.
  • White topaz: A colorless or translucent topaz is often referred to as white topaz and features a brilliant appearance that resembles a diamond.
  • Blue topaz: This is yet another type that is preferred by most people but it is the rare kind. The natural occurring blue topaz has a transparent appearance.
Topaz Gemstones
Blue Topaz

What Does it Look Like?

Topaz is one of the precious gemstones that are formed with a hardness of 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The crystals of topaz have a biaxial pattern whereby you get to view two optic axes when looking at it. When freshly mined, topaz exhibits a golden brown to yellow color that is sometimes mistaken to be citrine. The color that fire shows is the same one that the gemstone possesses and that is why the name, topaz. It includes a plethora of impurities and this causes it to have a variety of colors and hues. Once treatment and enhancements are applied, the topaz can take up either pink, grey, green, transparent and more. Since topaz presents a low refraction index, it doesn’t glitter the same way as other minerals with higher refractive indices.

What Is Topaz Worth?

The worth of topaz is determined by color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Imperial topaz is one of the most prized topaz because it is rare. Red is also a color of topaz that is most sought after and is more valuable. Another highly-priced topaz is one that exhibits more than one color. This type is known as bicolor topaz and is rare. Deep blue naturally occurring topaz is extremely unique and rare and this makes it very expensive. Also, the colorless type that resembles a diamond is quite rare and unique.

RELATED: What is the Birthstone for the Month of November?

The clarity of topaz also affects its worth. The best type of topaz and the most valued ones are those with minimum or invisible inclusions and flaws. Colorless, blue, and yellow topaz exhibit this attribute making them more valuable. How the topaz is cut also determines its worth. Long oval or pear-shaped topaz greatly improve its worth. However, the emerald cutting style improves its color and retains most of its weight. Round, cushion, triangle, and marquise cutting styles are the most popular fantasy shapes for designers. Small-sized and shaped topaz comes is available at cheaper prices. The prices shoot up with a rise in weight.

Is Topaz Valuable?

Topaz has been in the world for at least a thousand years. In the ancient days, traders used the gemstones to exchange with other materials. Just recently, the yellow gemstones became quite popular and that they are available in a wide range of colors. The most valuable topaz gemstones are the naturally occurring pale blue and pink type. This is because they are extremely rare and unique. However, the topaz gems can be treated and enhanced in the laboratory to improve their appearance and value. Topaz is vastly used in making various pieces of jewelry. The gemstone is hard but when too much pressure is applied, it tends to break. That is why it is commonly used for making pendants, earrings, rings, and brooches.

Topaz, being a November and December birthstone, also has different uses other than making jewelry. Pink and red topaz was traditionally used to make jewelry for the Russian royalty. Also, it was thought to have healing powers for mental and physical ailments as well as preventing death. It was purported to have the power of invisibility in the ancient Greek. The Romans believed that when wearing the gemstone, it would improve the wearer’s eyesight. Egyptians used it for protection against injuries.

How Is It Formed?

Topaz is generated from the silicic igneous rocks that are mainly granite and rhyolite. The chemical composition of this gemstone is Al2SiO4(F,OH)2. Fluorine in the composition is in gas form and occurs in fewer geological locations. The gemstone forms in the cavities of a pegmatite or the intergranular spaces of rhyolite. The process when magma is cooling and degassing releases fluorine gas that enhances the crystal growth of topaz. Since it precipitates in cavities, topaz forms crystals. Topaz can also be found in the water during placer mining. Topaz is found in geographical locations that have pegmatite and rhyolite rocks. These include Brazil, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Madagascar, India, Mexico, Russia, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and some parts of the United States like Utah.

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