Fabulous Friday Gemstones

I come across more lapidary artists than I can shake a stick at (or afford), but one of my major down falls are unusually cut gemstones, like this stunning blue Topaz from Dr. Barbara Smigel’s course on Gemology shown here from her website:

For me, one of the most fascinating things about gemstones (aside from sheer gorgeousness) is the beliefs with which people have imbued gemstones through out the centuries.  Yes, you read my title correctly, some people, like the Ancient Greeks actually attribute the topaz gemstone with the ability to impart invisibility.

This probably stems from their ancient belief that topaz was said to be an aid to eye ailments. Presumably if topaz could heal eyes, it could hide you from prying eyes… right?  Seems fairly reasonable, for ancient reasoning, actually.

Sometimes used as an affordable alternative to diamonds, the name Topaz is coined from the Sanskrit word, tapas, for Fire, or possibly from the Greek word topazion or topazios.  I like the idea that it could come from the word for fire… but then, I’m partial to my torch and my forge, and I may be a touch biased.

Other  benefits believed to come from topaz include the imparting of wisdom, protection from poisons, fire, robbery, and assault.  Topaz has been referenced multiple times in the Bible as part Aaron’s breastplate of judgement and as part of the foundation of the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation.

In modern times, Topaz comes in many different colors, and ranges from $9 to $1575 a carat.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Topaz:

Pure topaz is colorless and transparent but is usually tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine, yellow, pale gray or reddish-orange, blue brown. It can also be made white, pale green, blue, gold, pink (rare), reddish-yellow or opaque to transparent/translucent.

Orange topaz, also known as precious topaz, is the traditional November birthstone, the symbol of friendship, and the state gemstone for the US state of Utah.


Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Imperial topaz is yellow, pink (rare, if natural) or pink-orange. Brazilian Imperial Topaz can often have a bright yellow to deep golden brown hue, sometimes even violet. Many brown or pale topazes are treated to make them bright yellow, gold, pink or violet colored. Some imperial topaz stones can fade on exposure to sunlight for an extended period of time.

Blue Topaz is the Us state Texas’ gemstone. Naturally occurring blue topaz is quite rare. Typically colorless, gray or pale yellow and blue material is heat treated and irradiated to produce a more desired darker blue.

Mystic Topaz Image by Michelle Jo -CC3.

Mystic Topaz is colorless topaz which has been artificially coated giving it the desired rainbow effect.

So the upshot of all that is that Topaz has a really long history in our world, is incredibly beautiful, and may or may not be enhanced in jewelry by artificial means.  Other things to know about Topaz in jewelry is that while it has a hardness of 8 on the Mohs Scale, it fractures really easily.  Banging or dropping topaz onto a hard surface like concrete can seriously damage the stone, so be careful with these lovely gems!

Sure is pretty though…