Gemstone Spotlight: Topaz

by: Ben Tseytlin - on Antiques & Jewelry

Topaz is a yellowish gem that has been in use for at least two thousand years. The specimens found in nature tend to be large and crystalline, which makes them perfect for applications where faceted stones are needed. It is quite hard, comes in multiple colors and can be used in many different applications.


Although topaz most commonly appears in yellow, it can also be red, orange, purple, pink or blue. The naturally blue colored stones are highly coveted, since they are exceptionally rare. The color is caused by irradiation and heat. These stones is essentially allochromatic, meaning the color is the result of structural impurities as opposed to the presence of elements like chromium and iron.

These gemstones have unusually high clarity levels. The majority of the stones that you will find in stores are “eye clean,” meaning that any impurities such as inclusions which are present in the stone will be invisible to the eyes. Unlike other gems, which are found only in certain regions, topaz is widely distributed around the world. It is most common in the mountainous areas of Central Europe, along with Australia, North America, South Africa and Brazil. Russia used to have lots of mines, but supplies there have become exhausted.

Most of the topaz sold by jewelers has been treated to some extent. This is usually done through radiation which results in a stone that is more beautiful and vivid. Others are given a special coating which results in rainbow effects. A good jeweler will always notify buyers of what specific treatments have been made.

How To Shop For Topaz

When shopping for topaz the most important thing to pay attention to is color. Specifically, the saturation, hue and tone are essential for determining value. Hue is the primary color, while tone is a measure of how dark or light the gem is. Saturation determines the color brightness or intensity. With this gem you want vibrant coloration that is free of significant blemishes or inclusions. Topaz is durable, so it can be readily cut into a variety of shapes. Finding London Blue topaz in bigger carats won’t be a problem but the size should be in millimeters so it is easier to know what you’re purchasing.

How To Wear And Care For Topaz

Because topaz comes in so many colors matching it with clothing or jewelry should never be a problem. It is the perfect gemstone for anniversaries and is one of the birthstones for the month of December. Topaz doesn’t get the attention of other stones such as diamonds, rubies or emeralds so will draw a lot of attention when worn. It reflects light well and will give you an enchanting look.

Topaz differs from other gems in that it doesn’t scratch easily. To clean it, all you need to do is use a soft coat with water that is soapy. It should be well rinsed to remove the soap residue. Don’t bother with ultrasonic cleaners or other fancy steam equipment, and be sure to remove the stone before engaging in strenuous activities.