This month, we take a look at the golden gemstone known as topaz. Did you know it also comes in royal colors like blue and purple?
What It Looks and Feels Like
When most people think of topaz, they think of a yellowish-brown or golden orange gemstone—this is called imperial topaz, and it’s the most valuable form. The deeper the shade of orange and red, the more valuable the topaz; pink versions are also considered imperial topaz, although those are pretty rare. But topaz comes in a rainbow of other hues, too, like white, blue, green, purple, and gray; some varieties are even colorless. In terms of hardness, topaz registers as an 8 on the Mohs scale, about the same as emerald.
Where to Find It
Topaz is found all around the world. The largest producer is Brazil, and other sources include Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, China, Sri Lanka, Japan, Australia, Mexico, and a few states in the U.S.—like California, Utah, and New Hampshire. In the nineteenth century, Russia was the world leader in topaz production, and the precious pink topaz mined from its Ural Mountains was nicknamed “imperial topaz” to honor the Russian czar. Only the royal family could own it because they claimed exclusive rights to it.
No one is 100% sure how topaz got its name, but there are two working theories. According to Pliny (and many gemstone authorities), it comes from a small island in the Red Sea that the Greek used to call Topazios or Topazos and is now known as St. John’s Island—which is ironic because the area never produced topaz. It was a source of peridot, which back then was often confused with topaz. Meanwhile, some scholars believe topaz comes from the Sanskrit word topas or tapaz, which means “fire”—and brings to mind a fiery golden shade.
What It Used to Mean
Like most gemstones, topaz has meant different things to different groups of people in different eras. To the ancient Greeks, it was a source of strength. To Europeans during the Renaissance, it was a cure for magic spells. And in India, it’s associated with beauty, intelligence and a long life.
What It Means Now
Today, topaz still serves a variety of purposes. It is one of several birthstones for the month of November (another is citrine), while the rarer blue topaz is a birthstone for December. Blue topaz is also used to celebrate fourth anniversaries, and imperial topaz is used to celebrate 23rd anniversaries.
From topaz to diamonds and all the precious stones in between, make sure your jewelry is protected with a plan from SIMPLR! We cover snapped chains, chipped gemstones, broken prongs and stems, and more.