The ancients combined many gemstones under the term “Topaz.” Therefore there are some disagreements among the ancient writers and scientists concerning “indeed Topaz,” described by Pliny and Theophrastus.
However, Topaz is the gemstone of principally a yellow that used in jewelry. Though this gem frequently occurs colorless, it, nonetheless, can showcase a beautiful range of various colors and tints.
Origin of the Topaz and its brief History
Topaz can’t boast with such rich history as Diamond, Emerald or Ruby. According to Pliny, the Mauritanian King was the first who found Topaz on the island of the same name (Topazios) located in the Red Sea. However, the first Topaz suitable for jewelry purposes came from Brazil (Minas Gerais).
Pliny also states that the miners stumbled upon Topaz during the development of the deposits of Alabaster near the Egyptian city of Thebes.
The ancient Greeks used Topaz as an ornamental stone. This fact proved by the examples of the Medieval art. For example, Emperor Hadrian possessed a ring with Topaz, and with his face engraved on it. Also, we can look at the portraits of Phillip II and Don Carlos, engraved on Topaz in the collection of Royal Library of Paris.
The best specimens of Topaz coming chiefly from Brazil, more specifically, from the mines, called “Minas Gerais.” These gemstones are principally colorless. The locals called them “drops of water.” However, the Portuguese called them “slaves’ diamonds.” There is another location in Brazil called Villa Rica, where the topaz is in abundance. Here we can obtain Topazes of deep brownish-yellow tint occur. By the way, subsequently, this color had the highest value in jewelry.
The blue and green specimens arrive from Tasmania. Beautiful pale-blue colored Topazes meet in Karelia (Russia), close to the city of Murmansk. Additionally, these gemstones come at the market from the US, Asia, Peru, and England.
The modern value of the Topaz is incomparably low compared to its price in the Middle Ages. Today, the most valuable specimens of this gemstone meet in cheap jewelry. Meanwhile, its inferior varieties often used in science (primarily in optic gadgets and microscopes), and even in the Swiss watch. However, more valuable stone, Sapphire, suits more for these purposes.
There are three primary types of this gem:
1. Oriental Topaz;
2. Brazilian Topaz;
3. Occidental Topaz or the so-called “Scotch Topaz.”
The significant difference between these three varieties is because Oriental Topaz or the so-called “Yellow Sapphire” is a hard stone, with a hardness of 9/10 (according to the Mohs scale of Hardness). At the same time, the Brazilian Topaz and Scotch Topaz (indeed the Yellow Quartz) has a hardness index of 8/10 and 7/10, respectively.
You can apply this rule to distinguish the more valuable variety of Topaz from the inferior ones. It is evident that the diversity of the Topaz, which possesses the much hardness, is the most valuable. Therefore, while buying topaz jewelry, you should request information from the seller, whence he obtained these stones?