Monthly Archives: December 2013

Localities and occurrence

Topaz is commonly associated with silicic igneous rocks of the granite and rhyolite type. It typically crystallizes in granitic pegmatites or in vapor cavities in rhyolite lava flows like those at Topaz Mountain in western Utah. It may be found with fluorite and cassiterite. It can be found in the Ural and Ilmen mountains, Afghanistan, Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Pakistan, Italy, Sweden, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States.

Topaz crystals from Brazilian pegmatites are up to 80 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm in size. The biggest topaz crystal ever found, named “El Dorado”, was found in Brazil in 1984. It weighs 6.2 kg and belongs to the British Royal Collection. The famous Braganza diamond is in most likelihood a Topaz. The Topaz of Aurungzebe, observed by Jean Baptiste Tavernier measured 157.75 carats.


When heated, yellow topaz often becomes reddish-pink. The color change upon heating was first discovered by a Parisian jeweler around 1750. In particular the yellow Topaz of Brazil has been known to be treated frequently, by wrapping Topaz in Asbestos. Only stones of a brown-yellow color yield the pink; the pale yellow ones usually turn white. The pink color is stable. [1]. Topaz can also be irradiated, turning the stone blue, ranging from a light pure color to very dark almost electric blue. A recent trend in jewelry is the manufacture of topaz specimens that display iridescent colors, by applying a thin layer of titanium oxide via physical vapor deposition, this stone is then sold as ‘mystic topaz’.

An Overview of Topaz

Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminium and fluorine with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F,OH)2. It crystallizes in the orthorhombic group and its crystals are mostly prismatic terminated by pyramidal and other faces, the basal pinacoid often being present. It has an easy and perfect basal cleavage, meaning that gemstones or other fine specimens have to be handled with care to avoid developing cleavage flaws. The fracture is conchoidal to uneven. Topaz has a hardness of 8, a specific gravity of 3.4–3.6, and a vitreous luster. Pure topaz is transparent but is usually tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine or straw-yellow. They may also be white, gray, green, blue, pink or reddish-yellow and transparent or translucent.

Treatments applied to gemstones


Gemstones are often treated to enhance the color or clarity of the stone. Depending on the type and extent of treatment, they can affect the value of the stone. Some treatments are used widely and accepted in practice because the resulting gem is stable, while others are not accepted most commonly because the gem color is unstable and may revert to the original tone.[11]


Heat can improve gemstone color or clarity. Most Citrine is made by heating amethyst, and partial heating with a strong gradient results in ametrine – a stone partly amethyst and partly citrine. Much Aquamarine is heat treated to remove yellow tones, change the green color into the more desirable blue or enhance its existing blue color to a purer blue. [12] Nearly all Tanzanite is heated at low temperatures to remove brown undertones and give a more desirable blue/purple color. A considerable portion of all sapphire and ruby is treated with a variety of heat treatments to improve both color and clarity.


Most blue topaz, both the lighter and the darker blue shades such as “London” blue, has been irradiated to change the color from white to blue. Some improperly handled gems which do not pass through normal legal channels may have a slight residual radiation, though strong requirements on imported stones are in place to ensure public safety. Most greened quartz (Oro Verde) is also irradiated to achieve the yellow-green color.


Emeralds containing natural fissures are sometimes filled with wax or oil to disguise them. This wax or oil is also colored to make the emerald appear of better color as well as clarity. Turquoise is also commonly treated in a similar manner.

Fracture Filling

Fracture filling has been in use with different gemstones such as Diamonds, Emeralds, Sapphires. More recently (in 2006) “Glass Filled Rubies” received a lot of publicity. Rubies over 10 carat (2 g), particularly sold in the Asian market with large fractures were filled with Lead Glass, thus dramatically improving the appearance of larger Rubies in particular. Such treatments are still fairly easy to detect.

Synthetic and artificial gemstones

Some gemstones are manufactured to imitate other gemstones. For example, cubic zirconia is a synthetic diamond simulant composed of zirconium oxide. The imitations copy the look and color of the real stone but possess neither their chemical nor physical characteristics. However, true synthetic gemstones are not necessarily imitation. For example, diamonds, ruby, sapphires and emeralds have been manufactured in labs, which possess very nearly identical chemical and physical characteristics to the naturally occurring variety. Synthetic corundums, including ruby and sapphire, are very common and they cost only a fraction of the natural stones. Smaller synthetic diamonds have been manufactured in large quantities as industrial abrasives for many years. Only recently, larger synthetic diamonds of gemstone quality, especially of the colored variety, have been manufactured.

Ruby crystal before faceting


ruby_education01Rubies are mined in Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, and Cambodia, but they have also been found in the U.S. states of Montana, North Carolina and South Carolina. The Mogok Valley in Upper Myanmar has produced some of the finest rubies, but in recent years very few good rubies have been found there. The unique color in Myanmar (Burmese) rubies is described as “pigeon’s blood”. They are known in the trade as “Mogok” rubies. In central Myanmar the area of Mong Hsu also produces rubies. The latest ruby deposit to be found in Myanmar is situated in Nam Ya. In 2002 rubies were found in the Waseges River area of Kenya. Sometimes spinels are found along with rubies in the same rocks and are mistaken for rubies. However, fine red spinels may approach the average ruby in value.