Topaz is one of the few stones which, given the right conditions, can grow into enormous crystals. Transparent with a glassy lustre, it is found most commonly in shades of yellow, although colourless, pale green, blue or pink crystals are also found. The finest blue British topaz comes from the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland, but much topaz is nowadays heat-treated to produce a more intense blue. Its hardness allows jewellers to facet it with a brilliant cut into a hard-wearing gem. Its name might derive from the Sanskrit tapas, meaning fire, or from the ancient Greek name of St John’s Island, Topazios, in the Red Sea, from which the stone was mined.
Did you know?
- Blue topaz is the birthstone for December.
- The most famous topaz is possibly the colourless 1680 carat Braganza Diamond, so called because it was thought to be a diamond. Its whereabouts are a mystery, although some believe it to be with the Portuguese crown jewels.
- Greeks believed topaz had the power to increase the strength of the wearer and even to make him invisible. Romans believed that it could improve eyesight.
- Topaz jewellery is often given to celebrate a 4th or 19th wedding anniversary.