Looking for that perfect November birthday gift? Topaz is the traditional stone of choice. It has long been coveted for its deep golden colour and sparkle and is one of the 12 gemstones mentioned in the Book of Revelations. Some say it derives its name from the Sanskrit word for ‘fire’ or perhaps from a mysterious island off the Red Sea once known as Topazios.
Fiery is an apt description for the colour of this birthstone and its alternate stone, Citrine. While you may be more familiar with the London or Swiss blue topazes seen in many mass produced jewellery collections, a true blue topaz (found in nature) is rare indeed. Most blue topaz stones found today actually start out clear or brownish and have been heat treated and irradiated to produce these striking tones.
Topaz is a fairly hard gemstone rating an 8 on the Mohs hardness scale. The only note of concern is that it is known to have perfect cleavage. We’re not talking Marilyn Monroe here, but a property of crystalline structures. I’d love to get a little science geek about atomic crystalline structures in an upcoming post, but your need to know fact for today is that a topaz can fracture along that cleavage plane if hit on the right spot.
Always look for a design that protects the edges or “corners” of a topaz and if you’re planning on rock climbing, take your topaz ring off first. Stones that have been heat treated or coated (Mystic Topaz) can be damaged by excessive heat or abrasion. Other than that, its care is fairly simple and the stone can easily withstand the detergents, cleaning chemicals and perfumes of daily life.
Citrine is part of the quartz family, along with amethyst and the popular smoky quartz. Their colours can range from a pale lemon yellow (or citrus colour) to a deep golden orange and you will likely find a greater selection of jewellery made with citrine due to its wide availability. This stone is softer than topaz and may therefore show wear a little more, but its affordable price and interesting cuts allow for dramatic designs to be made.
Topaz and Diamond ring by Emre Dilaver from Lark Books 500 Gemstone Jewels