TOPAZ comes from the Greek word TOPAZIOS which means "to divine, guess and conjecture". Topaz is also thought to have been derived from the Sanskrit word तपस् "Tapas" which means "heat" or "fire".

All yellowish gemstones were once referred to as topaz. Golden citrine, smoky quartz, sapphires and peridot were once considered topaz.

In the early times, topaz was often mistaken for diamonds, too, due to its clarity. The crown jewels of Portugal and Saxony were found to be topaz and not diamonds as was thought to be. The huge Braganza "Diamond" which weighed about 1680 carats was discovered in Brazil in the 18th Century and became part of the crown jewels of Lisbon. After the death of its King John VI in 1826, this royal gem had disappeared. Since then there have been ongoing disputes regarding the authenticity of the gem. Many experts suspect it to be a large topaz instead of a diamond.

Topaz is a silicate mineral with aluminum and fluorine. It has a hardness of 8 on the Mohs scale which makes it ideal to be used in jewelry.

It has a glass-like luster and is translucent to transparent. Topaz feels very smooth, almost slippery to the touch. Real topaz feels cool.

Topaz is also a pleochroic gemstone and can have varied color intensity when viewed at different angles.

Under long wavelength UV, white and blue topaz shows a weak yellow or greenish fluorescence; and the brown, pink and yellow topaz can show a strong orange-yellow fluorescence; red topaz shows a weak yellow-brown fluorescence.

Topaz is often found as huge crystals, with inclusions that can only be seen under magnification. Topaz was found to be as large as boulders weighing kilograms. The American Golden Topaz weighed over 11kgs before it was cut. It is the largest faceted yellow topaz in the world.

The "El-Dorado Topaz" which is an emerald-cut yellow topaz weighed 37 kg. Today it is the largest faceted gemstone in the world.

The pure and transparent "Marbella Topaz" weighing 8,225 carats is the world’s largest faceted blue topaz and is housed in a museum in Madrid.

Topaz is usually white or colorless, some with chromium impurities which create a number of tints in topaz.

Topaz occurs in a wide range of colors. The most valuable colors for use in jewelry are natural pink, orange, red, purple and blue.

The rarest and therefore most sought-after color of topaz is the imperial topaz, also known as precious topaz. It comes in a color ranging from golden yellow to pink-orange.

The name for imperial topaz originated in nineteenth-century Russia. At the time, the Ural Mountains were topaz’s leading source, and the pink gemstone mined there was named to honor the Russian czar. Ownership of the gem was restricted to the royal family.

The most affordable and frequently purchased is blue topaz that has received its color from treatment. Pale blue to deep blue is extremely rare in nature. Most often, in order to obtain this lovely blue color, topaz is irradiated and heat treated. The two trade names of blue topaz are the Swiss Blue and the much darker London Blue Topaz. Both are gorgeous, easily available and fairly inexpensive.

Other trade names for topaz include:

The Sherry topaz which comes in honey-brown colors;

Azotic topaz and Mystic topaz which artificially produce a rainbow effect. Note, Mystic or Azotic topaz are enhanced with a thin coating to give rainbow color effects;

And the colorless forms of topaz which are traded as Silver and White Topaz.

Note: Bahia topaz, Gold topaz and Madeira topaz are in fact different varieties of Citrine whereas Indian Topaz and King Topaz are low grade, inferior quality sapphires.

Topaz is allochromatic meaning that its colors are due to impurities or defects in its crystal structure. In their pure state, these gemstones would be colorless.

On the other hand, some gemstones contain color causing elements which are essential to their chemical structure. These are known as idiochromatic gemstones. Such gemstones are never found colorless. These elements are what made the gemstones unique in their composition.

Allochromatic gemstones may occur in various colors due to the presence of different trace elements; idiochromatic gemstones can only occur in a single color.

Topaz has been used as a gemstone since ancient times by the great civilisations of Hindus, Greeks and the Egyptians.

In the Old Egypt (around 3000 BC) the rich people loved to wear gemstones and especially the colored ones. They believed that the topaz got its gold color directly from the Sun god Ra and that this gem could protect them against the evil ghosts.

The ancient Egyptians and Romans associated the yellow and orange topaz with the energy of the sun god. This solar energy touches everything, heals everything, and revives everything.

Topaz destroys the fear of death, and makes it easier to transit from this material plane of existence to the spiritual one.

Topaz was believed to cure insanity. Till today, it is used as a powerful amulet of protection against any type of danger. It is said to protect the wearer from epidemics, wild passions, witchcraft and the envious look of the Evil Eye. It gives extra-sensory perceptions like a glimpse of the afterlife.

Topaz can help you banish the fear of death, and can help you pass on to the real journey to the next world with ease and no pain.

Topaz can also help the wearer receive and understand the messages sent from other intelligent and conscious beings living in the universe.

The topaz was called the Stone of Power, because it was thought to give sexual potency and strength. It was believed that in each full and new moon, this power manifests itself into its highest potential.

Like most sacred stones, topaz enhances intuition and psychic abilities and attracts wealth and prosperity to one's life.

Topaz is a bringer of truth and wisdom, promoter of clear thinking, giver of power and positivity.

In the middle-ages topaz was used to cure failing eyesight. It was recommended to submerge topaz in wine for three days and rub this wine over the eyes.

Also, medieval kings of Europe would put topaz into wine to check for the presence of poison. It was believed that Topaz lost its color in the presence of poisons.

The Imperial topaz is the birthstone for November and the 23rd year anniversary gemstone. It is a symbol of love and affection.

Blue Topaz, on the other hand, is the birthstone for December and the 4th year anniversary gemstone.

Elvis Presley, a real King, owned a blue topaz and diamond ring.

Color is the most important consideration in buying a gemstone. Three things to look for in a topaz gemstone are the hue, tone and saturation of its color. The hue is the main color of the stone; the tone is simply the shades of its color; saturation defines the intensity or brightness of the color. With most topaz, intense and vibrant colors are more valuable.

Gemstone quality topaz can be found in South and South-East Asia, the mountain ranges of central Europe, north and central America, Australia, southern Africa and in Russia and Brazil and in the United States.