The Complete Topaz Guide

Topaz Consumer Information

As provided and validated by various gemmological organizations, laboratories and the "World Jewelry Confederation CIBJO"

Care

While topaz is quite hard, its toughness and resistance to blows is considered poor because of its perfect directional cleavage. Treated gems may be even more vulnerable to cleaving. Ultrasonic cleaners and steamers should be avoided. A soft, damp cloth remains the best way to clean topaz and topaz jewellery.

Colour is the principal feature of topaz with pink to orange to reddish orange combinations being among the most collectible. Size of the gemstone is also an important attribute, even in irradiated material where huge museum-quality gems are occasionally available.

Treatment

Heating: In some cases, yellow or brown topaz may be changed to pink or red colours
Irradiation / followed by heating: this treatment begins with induced irradiation causing colourless topaz to turn brown or brownish green. A heat treatment follows, turning the material blue. In rare cases, some material may retain residual radioactivity which has generally disappeared before it reaches the end consumer

Color

Topaz occurs in a broad range of colors
Yellow and golden colors are most known for topaz
Topaz sometimes includes a soft blending of pinkish orange to reddish orange colours, which the gem trade has called “imperial topaz”
Natural blue topaz exists but is generally pale

Clarity

Topaz from most sources is reasonably clean and eye-clean stones are both desirable and possible
Pink and red topaz are normally only available in small stones and a slightly higher degree of inclusions are tolerated. These inclusions are usually liquid inclusions
Occasionally trapped minerals such as rutile can be found in topaz.
In very rare cases, tiny ribbon like hollow tubes, forming in parallel fashion, cause cat’s eye effect

Cut

Topaz has perfect cleavage in one direction, so carvings are rare. When they do occur, especially by known artists, they are soon collected.

What is Mystic Topaz? Information provided by Dutch Gemological Laboratory

Hanco Zwaan

What is Mystic Topaz?

‘Mystic Topaz’ is ”real” Topaz that is coated to add color. Much of the Topaz that is found in nature is in fact colorless, or ‘white’. To add color, Topaz can be coated with an ultra thin layer (film), which is similar to the coatings used on camera lenses.

Such coatings can add a particular color to the treated stones, or, In the case of ‘Mystic Topaz’, the coating creates interference effects, displaying a rainbow effect of various colors. This effect may give the Topaz an artificial appearance (see photos), which sometimes causes confusion about the nature of the material.

Quality

The quality of the created rainbow effect in Mystic Topaz (is it really pleasing to the eye or not) and the visibility (or absence) of inclusions could determine the difference in quality between the individual stones.

Potential problems with Mystic Topaz

Coatings can be scratched or damaged easily. It should therefore be handled with the same care as pearls for example. The coating is sensitive to chemicals and therefore one needs to remove the jewelry when doing household activities that include bleach for example or before going into a swimming pool.

Although Topaz is a hard substance, it can be cleaved rather easily and perfectly in one particular direction. Therefore, boiling in water or the use of an ultrasonic cleaner are not recommended when cleaning pieces of jewelry set with Topaz.

The particular rough in the second photo comes from the Elahera district, Sri Lanka, a locality where large chunks of colorless topaz are found.

Mystic Topaz, 7.80c
Mystic topaz, 7.80 carats. (Photo Hanco Zwaan.)
Mystic Topaz
Natural colorless or white Topaz (rough, left) is used to create Mystic Topaz (emerald cut, right). (Photo Hanco Zwaan)

Topaz References in Antique Gemological Books

Blue Topaz

355 carat Natural Blue Topaz (bottom page)
Blue Topaz in association with Chrysoberyl
Many Blue Topaz localities
Blue Topaz occurrences
Chittagong District Australia Blue Topaz
Pale Blue Topaz” called “Brazilian Sapphire”
Refraction of Blue Topaz and influence of light (bottom page)

 

Classic Topaz Localities — World

Topaz from Ouro Preto (Villa Rica), Minais Gerais, Brazil etc.
Topaz in the United Kingdom
Also in England, Ural, Brazil, Germany, India, Ceylon, USA and Rhodesia

Yellow Topaz

“Moguk Diamond” = “Yellow Topaz
“Yellow Topaz” = Chrysolite (see Nicols)
Yellow-Green Topaz by the Greeks (diamonds)
Yellow Topaz mines Ouro Preto
Preferred color of Yellow in antique jewelry
Sapphire with stripe Yellow Topaz
Ancient Lapidary Knowledge presented in Orpheus poem

Famous | Important Topazes | Bible

Famous Topazes such as Braganza Diamond
Famous French and English Collections, Topaz Crystals, Cut and Engraved
“Exceptional Topazes” , Crystalline and Engraved from classic localities
On Radiating Topaz, the bible and spiritual meanings
Biblical Topazes

Topaz References before 1600

Georg Agicola on Topaz and more Topaz (footnote 44)
Nicols (1652) on Topaz or Chrysolite (2 chapters)
Tavernier (who brought Hope diamond to Europe) on Mogul’s Oriental Topaz (footnote 6 cnt’d next page footnotes) and famous Aurangzeb’s Topaz (footnote 1) as well as the famous Topaz of the Great Mogul
Al-Biruni on Topaz
Albertus Magnus

Topaz Cuts in Jewelry

Topaz cuts and settings

Pink Topaz

19th Century Heat Treatment
Heating Yellow to “Pink Topaz”: how it started
Heating to Pink Topaz (using Asbestos)
Pink-ing of Yellow Topaz
Firing process of Yellow to Pink (bottom page)
Pink Topaz Prices (1800’s)
Dichroism in “Pink Topaz”
Pink Topaz Overview

Classic Topaz Localities in the USA

Read about the discovery and the geology of Topaz Mountain, Thomas Range, Utah by George Frederick Kunz!
Mason County Texas
Hamdon Hill, Maine
George Frederick Kunz on Topaz in the USA

Other gemstone guides:

As provided and validated by various gemmological organizations, laboratories and the World Jewelry Confederation CIBJO