A brand new month means a whole new birthstone to enjoy! For this blog, we are going to be celebrating our pride and joy of November, the stunning and unique Imperial topaz!
Happy November rock gods, gem goddesses, and all those who love everything that sparkles and shines! Welcome back to the blog, and welcome to our world filled with everything gem related. We love everything about gems; from the moment they’re discovered to the moment they slide onto a customer’s finger for the perfect fit, they are truly our favorite things! Come join us on another adventure back in time to learn about the history of another stunning gem and the amazing journey it took to get to where it is today. Today, we are going to be talking about a gem fit for a king, worn by Russian Czarinas and Brazilian royalty. It is time to introduce you to Topaz!
November babies are very lucky because they have two beautiful gemstones to choose from, citrine and the Imperial topaz. Please note, that not all topaz is strictly November’s birthstone. The fall color range (red, yellow, etc.) are November birthstones, including the Imperial topaz. Blue topaz and all of its wintry blue hues are one of December’s birthstones. It is such an incredible gem that it couldn’t be contained to one month! It was such a hard choice to pick which gem we were going to highlight in this blog, but the topaz was calling out to us with its beautiful fall hues and stunning arrays of shapes and sizes that we just couldn’t resist. We hope that you, our November babies, don’t have as difficult a time as we did when it comes to choosing your favorite. Spoiler alert; these gems are affordably priced because they are not as rare compared to their peers. So, in the long run, you might not have to choose at all! Congratulations, more gems for you!
The history of topaz is not as spooky as her predecessor, the opal, was. It has been considered to be magical in its own ways, as has citrine, but in a much more positive and warm way. According to GIA, these stones earned their modern name from one of two sources. One school of thought believes it comes from the Sanskrit word “tapas” which means fire, while others believe it comes from the Greek word, “topazos”. It’s so interesting to learn more about each unique and different gem every month, just to see how cherished they were and what powers and ideals were attached to them over hundreds of years. Ancient Egyptians believed that topaz was connected to the power of the sun and that it was colored by the glow of their sun god, Ra, according to AGTA. The ancient Greeks believed that topaz could increase the strength of its wearer and even turn their wearers invisible in times of danger and need, according to both GIA and AGTA. During the dark ages and up to the very early years of the European scientific revolution, many believed that topaz could protect the wearer from magic spells and cure anger. For many centuries the people of India believed (and some still do today) that wearing topaz right above the heart gives the wearer a long life, beauty, and intelligence. However, when topaz was introduced to Russian Royalty during the 18th century, that is when topaz rose to the throne. While it had been adored and admired for hundreds of years by this point, this step into royalty changed the path of the gem forever.
According to Gemsociety, AGTA, and GIA “Imperial Topaz” refers to the red, orange, and pink hues of the stone. Many question how topaz received this name. Interestingly enough, there are two different stories as to how these stones adopted this name, and both are connected to two different royal families. The first was the Royal Russian family in the 18th and 19th centuries. They fell in love with these stunning stones, and luckily enough these colors of topaz could be found in the mines of the Ural mountains in Russia. They loved the stone so much, that they were exclusively mined for them in the Ural mountain mines. Due to their love and possession of the stone, they were then named “Imperial Topaz”. Today, some of the finest blue, green, and magenta topaz stones come from these mines.
The Russian Royals were not the only royals who admired these stones. Imperial Topaz could have also earned the name thanks to Brazilian royalty. Brazil has been one of the most influential and important sources of topaz for over two centuries, according to GIA. One of the towns closest to Brazil’s most productive topaz mines in the late 1880s, Ouro Preto, was visited by the Brazilian emperor Pedro II in 1881. As a gift of thanks for his visit, the town gave him one of these stunning reddish topaz gems, and that visit has also been credited for naming these the “Imperial Topaz” gems. Since these obsessions from two different sets of royals happened around the same time, it’s hard to say who called the topaz imperial first, but regardless of who did, we truly believe that the title fits this breathtaking gem.
Today, one of the most common colors of topaz is a stunning light blue. This was not always the case. For hundreds of years, this popular light blue stone was incredibly rare to find. What changed? Science! It was discovered in the 60s that if you took colorless topaz and irradiated it (turning it brown) and then subjected it to heat, it turned the stone to that stunning pale blue color that was so sought after for hundreds of years. Colorless topaz is incredibly common, so this new process significantly dropped the price of the blue strand of topaz. However, this is a very recognized and accepted process by the industry because the two-step process is so close to what happens when the earth naturally turns it blue, that you cannot tell the difference between the two according to GemSociety, keeping it at a standard price. Other colors include yellow, orange, violet, pink, brown, sherry, gold, peach, and very rarely, red! Just like most gems, the clarity and size play a role in the pricing of the gem, but due to how large these gems can be found naturally and their strength, it is the color that determines the price. As the reddish and pink stones are the most rare today, they are the most expensive. The second most expensive is orange and yellow, and those found in brown hues are the most common, along with colorless, are the most affordable.
Topaz, unlike its peers, can be found naturally in extreme sizes. According to GemSociety, crystals can be found weighing thousands of pounds, and gems up to 20,000 carats have been cut from these mammoth crystals. While these large stones make it possible to create affordable statement pieces, museums are the ones who are going after the mammoth-sized topaz crystals to put them on display to delight their visitors.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
As we’ve mentioned, Brazil is one of the most important places in the world that supplies us with high-quality topaz and has for a very long time. Pakistan, according to GIA, is also one of the most important topaz locations, and since its discovery there in 1972, it has supplied the world with some of the most sought after shades of pink and violet. It can also be found in Madagascar, Myanmar, China, Russia, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Afghanistan, India, Japan, Vietnam, Norway, the United Kingdom, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. According to AGTA, topaz can be found in Utah, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Texas.
Due to its hardness of an 8 on the Mohs scale, it is a wonderful gem to wear every day. However, due to its natural makeup and cleavage, being exposed to extreme heat can crack the inside of the gem. Also, cleaning should be done gently and not with an ultrasonic brush for similar reasons. Warm soapy water and a soft-bristled brush are all you need. Also, are you looking for the perfect gift for your 4th or 23rd wedding anniversary? According to GIA, it is customary to give topaz as the 4th wedding anniversary gift and the Imperial Topaz for the 23rd!
How much do you love topaz now?! We have always believed that gems should make you feel like royalty, but thanks to their high quality and for being so prolific, you can still feel like royalty but on a budget! Looking to add topaz to your collection? Come in and see us! You can pick out a piece that we’ve already created or you have the option of creating your own custom piece! Don’t forget, the holidays are right around the corner and Hanekbrink is your perfect local stop to make you the best gift giver this year! Also, don’t forget to stop in and fill out your holiday wishlist by November 21st! This will enter you into our wishlist drawing, and one lucky winner will win a stunning diamond necklace! Until next time friends, remember to keep calm and rock on!
Joke Of The Day:
I’m nervous about my exam tomorrow about gemstones.
I don’t think I’m going topaz.