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THE WELL-BELOVED TOPAZ HAS A MYSTERIOUS LIFE OF ITS OWN



Recognized for its rich yellow color, Topaz is one of the most popular stones in jewelry today. While commonly thought to exist only in that hue, Topaz has an exceptionally wide color range including tones of blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, and even colorless. 

Topazes: Russia (6.72), Brazil (12.59), Mexico (5.29), Brazil (4.65) // Brazil (25.25, 8.76, 7.20, 8.45), Russia (17.84). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA.
The origin of its name is highly debated, with some pointing to the origin of ‘topaz’ from an old Greek name for a small island in the Red Sea called Topazio, now Zabargad. However, other scholars trace the origin back to the Sanskrit word ‘tapus,  meaning ‘fire.’

 The saturated yellow is the most sought-after color, aptly named “imperial topaz.” Despite the mistaken identity of Topaz, there are several variations of colors that are valuable, including Pink Topaz, which is said to possess the properties of divine protection of the Sun, making the wearer feel joyous and radiant. Colorless topaz stones are common and considered less valuable, while precious topaz stones refer to hues of rich yellow to rich peachy colors. Here at Starling, peachy pink topazes are our favorites! Topaz jewelry pieces are special in their own way and make a great addition to a colorful collection, especially November borns! Blue Topaz, a highly valued alternative, is the perfect gift for 4th wedding anniversaries.


HISTORY OF TOPAZ

Topaz was first discovered in medieval times, when a small wine-yellow Saxonian topaz was mined in the Erzgebirge Mountains of Saxony Germany, attracting the eye of royalty across Europe in the 18th century. Germany was the main source of topaz until the discovery of large deposits in Brazil in the mid 19th century.

Imperial Topaz is a saturated sherry hue yellow with pink undertones prized by Russian monarchs in the olden days. Some historians speculate that the name “Imperial Topaz” came about to honor the Russian Tsar who owned the Ural mountain with huge Topaz mines, reserving the best quality topaz for the emperor and his family. However, some other historians attribute the name “Imperial Topaz” to the Brazilian Empire. Brazilian/Portuguese Emperor Peter II visited the town of Ouro Preto in 1881 and was presented with a reddish topaz by Professor Henry Gorceix, from that time forward the topaz was termed “Imperial.” Today, the Minas Gerais in Brazil is the largest producer of topaz. 
  



CHEMICAL PROPERTIES

Topaz is allochromatic, which means that its color is caused by impurities or defects in its crystal structure rather than by an element of its basic chemical composition. Topaz is found primarily in gem pegmatites and high-temperature quartz veins, or in cavities of granite and rhyolite. It is one known for being one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals (Mohs hardness of 8) and is the hardest of any silicate mineral. Topaz is renowned for its ability to form huge crystals, with one  22892.5 carat stone on display in the Smithsonian weighing over 10 pounds.  
 Photo courtesy of the Met Museum, 1st century BCE-3rd century CE Roman Topaz ring stone engraved with Hermes.


Image courtesy of Spain's Programa Royal Collections Group, the El-Dorado Topaz: the largest faceted gemstone in the world (31,000 carats or 13.67 lbs).

Photo courtesy of the Met Museum, 1st century BCE-3rd century CE Roman Topaz ring stone engraved with Hermes.


LORE

Like many precious stones, there are mystical beliefs surrounding topaz all around the world. In Egypt, it is the symbol of Ra, the Sun-god, who was the giver of life. In Europe, topaz became strongly linked with Apollo, who is also a solar being. 

 In the tradition of Hindu mythology, topaz is associated with heat and the planet Jupiter! Topaz is one of the sacred stones of the Kalpa tree which is considered sacred to the Hindus. When set in an astrological sequence, 9 sacred gems of the Navratna. In Africa, topaz is used in healing rituals to journey into the realm of the spirit.



Sources: 
GIA
Gem Society
Gemstone7
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