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. . 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’.
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.