Topaz, unlike many gemstones such as sapphires, emeralds and rubies, does not conjure the same image or colour within everybodys minds. From golden yellow to clear blue, to forest green and grapefruit pink, the colours topaz has been discovered to bear provide jewellery makers and jewellery wearers alike with a veritable rainbow of options. It is exactly the fact that topaz can bear such vivid and contrasting colours that makes it such a beautiful and versatile stone. That said, most traditionally yellow Topaz is most closely associated with the month of November whilst icy blue Topaz is often seen to celebrate the Month of December.
Where Topaz Comes From
Topaz takes its name from the small island of Topazios located in the Red Sea, and where topaz was first reportedly discovered and so named by the Romans. That said, many authorities now believe that the topaz said to have been discovered on Topazios was actually peridot, and not topaz at all, as topaz and peridot were commonly confused before the advent of modern mineralogy.
Today, genuine topaz is sourced and has been found in numerous countries. Most famously, topaz is associated with Sri Lanka, Brazil and Pakistan. Russia, being such a mineral rich country and spanning such a vast area is also responsible for contributing to the worlds topaz stores.
Lore, Legend and Properties
In the Middle Ages, it was believed that topaz had the power like many gemstones to help in the healing of physical ailments and injury. Further to the healing properties thought to belong specifically to topaz though, it was also believed that topaz had the unique power to prevent or help to conquer mental disorders, insanity and the evil of black magic and spells, as well as ward off death itself.
A naturally strong gem stone, measuring a hardy 8 on the Mohs scale, clear topaz can, when polished and cut, very closely resemble diamond. In fact, and most famously and historically clear topaz was erroneously inlaid into the Portuguese Crown Jewels.
Known as the Braganza Diamond, the topaz belonging to the Portuguese Crown Jewels was initially believed to be a diamond and mined in Brazil in the late 18th century. It is now understood to in actual fact be a Brazilian giant topaz. The topaz weighs a staggering 1,680 carats and to this day, the stone remains rough and uncut, bearing only a hole driven through it by King John the VI, who is said to have worn it as a pendant on special occasions.
Had the Braganza Diamond been an actual diamond, and not a topaz, it would have been the second largest diamond of gem quality ever discovered in the world in 1797.
You can see our extensive collection of antique topaz jewellery here.