The Gemstone Topaz
What is Topaz?
Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminum and fluorine with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F, OH)2. It is used as a gemstone in jewelry and other adornments. Topaz in its natural state is a golden brown to yellow. A variety of impurities and treatments may make topaz wine red, pale gray, reddish-orange, pale green, pink, or opaque.
Topaz (Pukhraj) makes a perfect gem. A good stiffness and appropriate colors, mutual with a relative profusion and availability makes it one the most popular gemstones. The most valuable colors of Topaz (Pukhraj) are the golden orange-yellow type, called Imperial Topaz, and the dark pinkish-red and orange-red colors. Value increases with a depth of color in orange and reddish hues. The most commonly used colors of Topaz in jewelry are the blue types. It was not until this past century that blue Topaz became well-known on the gem market, since almost all blue gem Topaz is illumined and heat treated.
Topaz gets its name from the Greek word topazion, which may invent from the Sanskrit tapas, meaning, “fire.” The name might also come from the name of the Egyptian island of topazos (now St Johns Island) in the Red Sea. The Latin writer Pliny the Elder used the island’s name for a yellowish green stone found there, and it soon became the name for most yellow stones. Topaz was once mostly found there but is now also found in Brazil, Nigeria, Australia, Burma, and Mexico.
Topaz has become very common over the years. Most of the topaz on the market is treated. Unfortunately there is no way yet to determine which stones have been treated and which are natural. Although topaz has not been manufactured unnaturally on a commercial scale, a completely natural looking blue coloration has been created in colorless topaz by means of irradiation with gamma rays. This practice is regarded as legitimate in the trade, and is becoming increasingly widespread. It is one of the reasons for the present abundance of topaz in the trade.