Why are topaz gemstones so popular


Author: Torsten Purle (steine-und-minerale.de) | Last update: 04/27/2021

Topas - properties, origin and use

English: topaz | French: topaze

Topaz - a biblical gemstone

There is disagreement about the origin of the name Topaz - Topaz can be derived from Arabic and with the one finally found translated, but is also called tapas Equated from Sanskrit with fire or glow, but can also refer to first discoveries of the mineral on a Island called topaxine (today Zebirget / Red Sea).
However, the green topazes of the island of Topaxin, described by Pliny the Elder at the time, turned out to be olivine.
Topaz is also one of the few gemstones mentioned in the Bible. Topaz is said to have been a stone that was given to Moses on the mountain of God and which he in turn gave to his brother Aaron. Aaron sets the topaz in a breast apron along with eleven other precious stones that represent the twelve tribes of ancient Israel.

Table of Contents

Properties of topaz

The mineral topaz is due to its chemical composition Al2(F, OH)2SiO4 classified in the mineral class of silicates.

Topas crystallizes following the orthorhombic crystal system. The crystals that have grown in and out are prismatic, short or long columnar. The aggregates are characterized by a variety of shapes - coarse, bulky, columnar and columnar aggregates are possible. Not infrequently the crystals of topazes are from considerable size. The largest topaz crystal in the world measures one meter and brings a weight of 2.5 tons on the scales.

Topaz is from vitreous luster at see-through to translucent transparency. The cleavage is perfect, the break is shell-like, brittle.

With a Mohs hardness of 8, topaz reaches the so-called gemstone hardness. The density of topaz is 3.53 to 3.56 g / cm³.

The color of topaz

Topazes are brightly colored minerals, with the color Yellow and colorless most common are represented. Other topaz colors are green, brown, red, purple, pink and blue, here blue topaz is considered to be of 100% natural origin Coloring of all topaz colors.

Sometimes the individual topaz colors are given special names in stores. The term imperial topaz or imperial topaz includes, for example, yellow to golden brown topaz, while brown topaz is also referred to as sherry topaz.

The color of topaz is both allo- as well as idiochromatic origin. In mineralogy, a distinction is made between the development of color due to the crystal's own (idiochromatic) causes and the influence of external, foreign factors (allochromatic).

Red and pink topaz are therefore defined as allochromatic, there Chromium and iron as coloring foreign atoms are represented. Blue topaz, yellow and brown topaz, in turn, are assigned to the idiochromatic minerals, da Defects in the crystal lattice structure are considered to be the cause.
For a long time, colorless topaz was considered "unpopular", especially when compared to white diamonds. Due to the lower refractive index (1.619 to 1.627 versus 2.42 of diamonds), the gemstone could not keep up in terms of luster and brilliance. However, the radiance of colorless or white topaz can cause the the right touch intensified become. It's important, that multi-faceted cuts such as brilliant cut and oval cut are used, on whose facets the Light is reflected in a variety of ways.
Facet cuts with a small number of facets, for example emerald cut or baguette cut, on the other hand, are not ideal for topaz.

The line color, i.e. the color that is created when a mineral is carefully painted over an unglazed porcelain tablet, is white despite the many colors of the mineral.

Change in color of topaz

Topaz in the colors blue and pink are among the most popular colors of the gemstone on the gemstone market. However, the amount of naturally colored blue and pink topazes does not match the demand in the jewelry market.

The change and refinement of the color of Topaz is carried out by Topas Burning and irradiating reached.

When firing, topaz is heated to approx. 500 ° C in muffle furnaces.
Along with the supply of heat, it is sustainable and permanent Changing and / or intensifying color the stones. This method of changing the color is used in particular with orange topaz, which are transformed into pink topaz by firing. Yellow topaz also responds with a change in color by means of burning, insofar as the original color changes to pink, purple or golden yellow.

Another method of color change relies on the Use of radiation. With controlled use of gamma and electron radiation and subsequent firing, the color of yellow topaz changes and blue topaz is created in three different color variants:

  • Sky blue topaz - Sky blue topaz: pastel light blue
  • Swiss Blue Topaz - Swiss blue topaz: light blue
  • London Blue Topaz - London Blue Topaz: dark, greenish blue, almost petrol in color

Despite the fact that the stones were exposed to radiation, there is no health risk, according to the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), since the stones are only put on the market after a sufficient decay time.

Mystic topaz

An apparent variety of topaz that is becoming more common to buy is Mystic topaz, alternatively rainbow topaz.

The characteristic of mystic topazes is that iridescent, metallic shimmer in yellow, red, pink, violet, blue and green - at the same time. A play of colors that does not appear in nature with topazes.

Rather, light or colorless topaz is vaporized with a thin layer of titanium, which creates the colored iridescence - a process known as physical vapor deposition (PVD).
The titanium coating is only superficial, which is why the vapor deposition is only applied after grinding.

Origin and distribution of topaz

The formation of topaz is closely related to the formation of igneous rocks, insofar as topaz crystallizes in the pneumatolytic phase from residual fluorine-containing solutions that circulate through crevices and passages in the rock.
Occasionally, topazes can also be found in sedimentary rocks.

The occurrences of topaz are accompanied by a variety of different rocks and minerals, including, for example, gneiss, granite, rhyolite, beryl, quartz, tourmaline, wolframite, muscovite, zinnwaldite, phenakite, cassiterite and biotite.

Significant topaz deposits can be found in Norway, among others; Northern Ireland; Scotland; Cornwall / England; Erzgbirge, Schneckenstein (Fichtelgebirge) / Germany; Urals / Russia; Ukraine; Algeria; Namibia; Zimbabwe; Madagascar; Nigeria; Sri Lanka; Afghanistan; Pakistan; Japan; Minas Gerais, Esparto Santo / Brazil; Mexico; USA and Australia.

Snail stone topaz - Saxon diamonds

The first topaz crystals from the Schneckenstein, a 23 m high rock in the southeastern Vogtland near Tannenbergsthal and Muldental, were discovered in 1722. The crystals were yellow to yellow-green in color and were initially characterized by a high degree of purity, so that the gemstone was mined in the Königskrone colliery from 1734 to 1800. Over the years, the finds became less and less, just as the quality deteriorated. Compared to the crystals of the early years, the late finds were brittle and fragile, so that the mining of the Saxon diamonds was stopped in 1800.

The fact that the topaz from the snail stone was also known as the Saxon diamond is due to the similarity or confusion between cut topazes and real diamonds.

August the Strong (1670 to 1733) owned jewelry with snail stone topazes, which is now exhibited in the Green Vault in Dresden; other jewels set with Saxon diamonds are part of the Crown Jewels of England.

Topas sites in Germany

  • Saxony: Altenberg, Berggießübel, Ehrenfriedersdorf, Elzing / Annaberg, Hartmannsdorf, Johanngeorgenstadt, Klingenthal, Schmiedeberg, Schneeberg, Tannenbergsthal
  • Rhineland-Palatinate: Bellerberg / Ettringen, Burgbrohl, Daun, Gerolstein, Herchenberg, Kehlberg, Wingertsberg
  • Bavaria: Großer Walstein, Leuchtenberg, Nagel near Tröstau, Schwarzeck, Weißenstadt
  • Baden-Wuerttemberg: Enzklösterle, Hochkopf / Feldberg, Hütten, Kirchbühl, Zindelstein quarry near Titisee-Neustadt

Use and meaning of topaz

Topaz is mainly important for the manufacture of jewelry, but is also sold as a healing stone and used as an aggregate for the manufacture of porcelain.

Topaz and jewelry

Topaz is one of the most sought-after gemstones for jewelry, which are made into rings, chains, pendants and earrings.

When cutting topaz, the focus is on color and purity, which are best achieved in the form of facet cuts, even if the processing of the mineral is sometimes difficult due to the splintering, splitting character of the mineral. It has been shown that topazes that have grown in cavities of silica-rich rocks are of a better quality that is more worthy of grinding than crevice-filling topazes.

Topazes in brilliant / round cut, oval cut, princess cut, heart cut, emerald cut, baguette cut, pear shaped and marquise cut / navette cut are particularly common.

But not every topaz that you can buy is a real topaz. Often other minerals are given misleading trade names with the addition of topaz in their name in order to achieve an apparent appreciation of the mineral. Madeira topaz, for example, consists of burnt amethysts or citrine, which are sometimes referred to as gold topaz due to their color. Smoky topaz is also not a topaz variety, but the quartz mineral smoky quartz.
In order to distinguish real topazes from imitations and "sham topazes", the term is often used Noble topaz used.

Topas - Our recommendations *

1. extraLapis: tourmaline, 2. imperial topaz rough stone, 3. rough stone gold topaz

Topaz healing stone

Topaz was already used as a healing stone during Hildegard von Bingen's lifetime. In her healing stone therapy, Hildegard von Bingen relied on the effect of topaz on various clinical pictures. In addition to topaz, other minerals were used, namely the 12 protective stones of the high priest Aaron mentioned in the Bible (ruby, topaz, emerald, turquoise, sapphire, jasper, hyacinth, agate, amethyst, chrysolite, carnelian and onyx) as well as other stones that you in the form of visions.
Scientific studies have not proven that topaz and other stones have a healing effect.

Detection and determination of topaz

When held in an open flame, Topaz shows no signs of melting, from a temperature of 1,350 ° C, fluorine escapes from the mineral. Topaz is resistant to acids. The mineral is only attacked on the surface by concentrated sulfuric acid.

Depending on the color, topaz is differently pleochroic and fluorescent differently. Yellow topaz has an intense yellow pleochroism, the fluorescence is orange. Blue topaz shows a white-blue, light red to colorless pleochroism, while red topaz appears yellow to dark red and fluoresces yellow-brown.

Chemical composition Al2(F, OH)2SiO4
Mineral grade Silicate mineral
colourcolorless, yellow, red, green, brown, blue
Line color White
Crystal systemorthorhombic
shine glass-like
transparency transparent to translucent
fracture brittle, mussel-like
Mohs hardness8
density3.53 to 3.56 g / cm³
useJewelry, healing stone
  • Saxon diamond
  • Mogok diamond
  • Finder's diamond
No topaz
  • Bahia Topaz: Citrine
  • Bohemian topaz: Citrine
  • Madeira topaz: Citrine
  • Smoke topaz: Smoky quartz

Also interesting:
- Topaz Colors - Natural and artificial colors of topaz
- Distinguish aquamarine and blue topaz
- Carat - unit for gemstones and minerals

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⇒ Korbel, P .; Novak, M. and W. Horwath (2002): Mineralien Enzyklopädie, Dörfler Verlag
⇒ Medenbach, O .; Sussieck-Fornefeld, C .; Steinbach, G. (1996): Steinbach's natural guide minerals. 223 species descriptions, 362 color photos, 250 drawings and 30 pages of identification tables. Mosaik Verlag Munich
⇒ Schumann, W. (1992): Precious and precious stones: all precious and precious stones in the world; 1500 unique pieces. BLV determination book, BLV Verlagsgesellschaft mbH Munich
⇒ Schumann, W. (1991): Minerals rocks - characteristics, occurrence and use. FSVO nature guide. BLV Verlagsgesellschaft mbH Munich
- www.mindat.org - topaz

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