Topaz is a very common and not so expensive gemstone. Most people have come across at least one of those beautiful gems, as they are frequently used in jewellery. Topaz has a wide colour range that varies from brown tones to blue, green, yellow, red, and purple. The most common topaz, however, is colourless, which is often irradiated or heat treated to give the stone a blue tint.
Sometimes the clear gem is used as a simulant for diamond, as it is just as shiny and smooth as the more precious stone. The most expensive and valuable topazes are of red and orange hues, such as the most valuable type of topaz - the Imperial topaz. Being pleochroic, topaz can show different colours, depending on the angle at which the light hits it. Polychrome topazes also exist, meaning that there is more than one colour mixed in one gem. Due to this, for the best results, great care must be taken when faceting the gemstones. After faceting topazes are also usually polished to achieve a smooth slippery feel.
Topazes are hard and durable gemstones and are not affected by most chemical solvents, which is partly why so many topazes are found as large flawless crystals. They are then cut and faceted into spheres and gigantic gems, which make delicate and exclusive collectors’ items.
In fact, some of the biggest gemstones ever cut were of topaz: for example, the largest faceted gemstone in the world is the El-Dorado Topaz which weighs approximately 31,000 carats, or 6.2 kilogrammes. The gemstone has a yellowish-brown colour and is emerald cut.There are many other large topazes, like the 23,000-carat American Golden, 21,000-carat Adiel Topaz, and Brazilian Princess, or the 12,555-carat sphere, but the most famous topaz, also quite a large one, is the Braganza Diamond. It is a clear topaz, originally thought to be a diamond, which is believed to be set into the Portuguese Crown. It weights around 1,650 carats. It also briefly disappeared around 1826 after the death of King John VI.
The name Topaz is thought to have come from a Greek word ‘topazos’ meaning ‘green gemstone’. However, it could also have come from a similar Sanskrit word which means ‘fire’. Precious topaz is a November birthstone, and blue topazes are used for 4th anniversaries, while Imperial topaz is the way to go for 23rd anniversaries.
Topaz is also a very spiritual stone. It is believed to ease stomachaches and asthma, and help with kidney and liver problems. Topaz is said to dispel mental problems, sadness, anger, and nightmares, bringing happy and optimistic thoughts.
Most importantly, topaz is thought to protect the life of the wearer by keeping the immune system healthy and keeping away from mystical dangers such as evil spirits, witchcraft, and jinxes. Special amulets are made for these purposes, and if worn by fair and worthy people, can have other effects, like bringing luck and wisdom.