Topaz comes in many colours, from shades of golden amber, browns, orange, red, pink to blue and all colours in between. By far the most popular is Blue Topaz in today’s fashion conscious jewellery trade, in particular, London Blue Topaz, a medium to dark greyish blue, often described as “steely” or “inky”, is a best seller in the gem trade. Believe it or not, to produce the intense colour of the London blue topaz, it is exposed to radiation in a nuclear reactor! In fact, naturally occurring topaz is mainly white (or very light), blue topaz in nature is rare. Virtually all blue topaz on the market is produced by treating white topaz with heat and radiation.
The Egyptians believed that the topaz was coloured with the golden glow of the mighty sun god Ra. Romans associated the stone with their own sun god Jupiter. In antiquity, the topaz was considered a very powerful amulet that protected the faithful against harm and according to legend, dispelled enchantment and helped improve eyesight. It was also said to change colour in the presence of poisoned food or drink and to cure insomnia, asthma and haemorrhages. The ancient Greeks even believed that the gem had the power to increase strength and make its wearer invisible in times of emergency. A very busy gem!
Although blue topaz is popular, the rarest and most valuable topaz has a pink to reddish orange colour. Brown, yellow, orange, red and pink topaz are mainly found in Brazil. Pink topaz is also found in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Russia. Blue topaz, which has a pale to medium blue colour is mined in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. Other deposits are in Afghanistan, Australia, Myanmar, China, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibia, Nigeria, and the United States. Given that the supplies of topaz are abundant around the world it’s easy to see why they are amongst the cheapest gems on the market. That said a beautifully cut and set blue topaz will rival any diamond, emerald, ruby or sapphire – if you like the blue colour of course.