The Tech

Variety: Topaz (Silicate mineral)
Chemical Composition: Aluminum and Fluorine
Hardness: 8
Specific Gravity: 3.53 (+.04)
Refractive Index: 1.61-1.63
Color: Clear, blue, brown, orange, gray, yellow, green, pink, or red
Where Found: Brazil, Sri Lanka, Russia, and in the US, Utah and Texas.

The Folklore

The Orange Topaz is the symbol of friendship and the state gemstone for Utah, Blue Topaz is state gemstone for Texas. The Egyptians wore it to prevent them from injury. It is known as the “Stone of True Love and Success in all Endeavors”.

Birthstone for November

The Aesthetics

While it comes in many colors, the Blue Topaz became popular in the 1980’s- It’s coloration is caused by radiation, which was done in large quantities by exposing colorless material to nuclear bombardment. When handled properly, the gemstones do not retain any radioactivity. I prefer to use topaz in one of its many un-irradiated hues.
For The Field Museum’s Grainger Hall of Gems, I was asked to create a necklace using 3 White (colorless) Topazes from the museum’s collection- they were mined in Russia’s Ural Mountains. I created a pendulum style piece with multiple chains in blackened sterling silver. (shown above, and on display at The Field Museum, in Chicago)
The topaz that is most commonly used as a “birthstone” is a golden yellow to orange color- although many stones in this type of jewelry represent the golden topaz by using more readily available Citrine, a Quartz. Precious and Imperial Topaz are a lovely pink to an exceptional orangey-pink in color and can command high prices for their rarity.
As for “Smoky Topaz”, it is not a topaz a all, it is a Quartz, but found in large sizes and can be quite dramatic when mixed with other colors.