Mohs scale hardness: 8
Topaz is made from alumunium oxide and kiezelzuur with hardness level eight. Topaz is also known as the “Stone of Strength” due to both its durability and beauty. Topaz occurs in gneiss or granite associated with beryl, tourmaline and mica and occasionally with cassiterite, apatite and fluorite; it also occurs in certain talcose rocks, rhyolite, mica slate and in alluvial deposits and drift.
Types of Topaz
The word topaz is believed to have come from the sankrit word tapaz for fire, a reference to the range of flame-like colors of the gem, including orange-yellow, amber gold and sherry red. It also occurs in browns, pinks, purples and blues. But yellow is the color most often associated with this birthstone and all yellow stones were once called topaz. Pure topaz is colorless and transparent. There is even an unusual bi-color topaz, combining blue and peach pastel tones. The most valuable variety of topaz is called imperial topaz, a beautiful reddish-gold color (the color is due to the presence of hydroxyl ions, as a resullt this variety is heat sensitive, and usualy contains numerous flaws), while good quality pink and peach topaz are also costly. The least expensive, and most common variety, is blue topaz. Most blue topaz is mined in China, where it actually comes out of the ground as colorless or white. Irradiation treatment transforms the gems into an electric blue. If not done properly, irradiation can make the gem radioactive. Many people including experts cant diferentiate between topaz and yellow ruby.
Blue was once the rarest color of topaz, today it is the most common due to a stable enhancement process that turns colorless topaz blue. Topaz is irradiated to brown after being extracted from the earth and cut. The stone then heated to sky blue. The process of enhancement is permanent. Since blue topaz is so popular, people develop a new treatment process called vapor deposition to create additional colors of topaz. This process of treatment is similar to those used by camera makers and opticians to make lens coating, the surface of topaz is bonded with a thin colored film to create dark blue, pink, green and red colors or rainbow iridescence. Topaz which gone through this treatment process must be handled with extra care, as the coating can be scratched or abraded.
The colors of blue topaz are described in different ways. The “sky blue” is the pale variety of blue topaz. The “Swiss blue” is also known as electric blue topaz, it is darker than sky blue topaz (but not as dark as the london blue topaz), it is the bright vivid form of blue topaz, while the “London blue” topaz is a deep blue variety and is the most valuable shade of all. As it is with many other colored gems, the value of the gem is higher when its color is deeper. It takes one full year for a London blue topaz to reach the marketplace.
Pink topaz is sometimes called as rose topaz. The trace element for the red, purple and pink topaz is mineral chromium. Color center (mean minor atomicc substitutions and defects in structure of the crystal followed by radiation damage) is the cause of color in brown, yellow and blue topaz. An orange colored topaz is due to the presence of both chromium and color center results. Pure topaz, when brilliantly cut, may be mistaken for diamond. Clear topaz sometimes has a cloudy or cat's eye effect. Red-brown topaz is sometimes called root beer topaz. Champagne topaz is one of the very few naturally colored varieties of topaz (primarily found in Mexico) in a light to medium shade of brown.
Topaz shows pleochroism (the appearance of several colors), depending on the perspective, a red topaz appears dark red, yellow, pink-red: a yellow topaz lemon-honey, straw-yellow: a blue topaz light and dark blue.
How Topaz is Formed
This beautiful gemstone can usually be mined in gravel deposits, streams and various rivers. The presence of fluorine is the important ingredient in locating and mining topaz. Fluorine provides the correct environment that topaz need to grow. Topaz will develop and begin crystallization if fluorine is present in the corect environment and growing conditions. Folowing the crystalization, it will begin to produce columns with square, diamond shapes and multi surfaced heads. Topaz can also grow in cavities and cracks where silica and fluorine is abundant. Hot temperatures are also essential for topaz formation. To obtain an intense and beautiful colors that topaz are known for, the presence of chromium oxide is also needed.
While topaz is a hard and durable gem, it cleaves easily (a trait it shares with diamond) and care must be taken to prevent it from receiving a hard blow. An extreme, sudden change in temperature can also cause topaz to crack. Topaz is also a gem given for the 4th, 19th and 23th wedding anniversaries. Good quality topaz shines very bright, and cold if touched. It is also clear and smooth. Unlike aquamarine which will float in bromoform, while the real topaz will sink in it. If rubbed or gently heated topaz will produce spark or become electrically charged that causes to attract pieces of papers.
It is believed topaz have special properties:
- Bring happiness and patience.
- Protect the wearer against diseases and dangers.
- To heal mental disorders.
- Sharpen eyesight.
- Make the wearer become decisive and think more logically.
- Increase understanding and restore energy.
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