With its myriad colour variations, topaz, the birthstone for November, is a highly versatile gemstone. Associated with constancy, loyalty, faithfulness and friendship, this stone carries all the right attributes for creating totemic and personal jewellery.
Ranging from colourless to various strengths and tones of yellow, green, brown, red and blue, topaz is a popular go-to stone when requiring colour and vibrancy in a piece of jewellery. It is also hardwearing and scratch resistant in nature, qualities that add to its attractiveness as a material for jewellery, able to be set into all forms, from earrings and pendants, to rings, bracelets and brooches.
Traditionally yellow or orange topaz, with its fiery tones, is associated as being the birthstone for November, and the most revered of the orange-hued stones are those classified as ‘Imperial Topaz’. Ancient Egyptians and Romans attributed these golden stones to the Sun God, believing that its pinky-orange tones – akin to the setting sun – possessed the power to protect and heal, as well as seeing it as a symbol of beauty and splendour. In the seventeenth-century the appeal of this golden gem was such that the Russian tsars of the time commanded their exclusive right to possession of any such stones mined in the Russian Ural Mountains, hence the moniker ‘Imperial Topaz’. Imperial topaz is now most commonly mined in Brazil, however there are still small deposits occurring in the Urals.
Much of the commercial gem-quality topaz used today is treated to enhance or improve the colour of the stone, most commonly to change a brown stone to a more attractive blue colour, although a variety of colours can be produced. This is an industry-recognised practice, and is widely accepted as the norm, with the majority of topaz-set jewellery containing enhanced gems.
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