Gem that can be of multiple colors, topaz is a mineral of the silicate family. Its most common color is colorless or greyish-yellow, but there are variants in ocher, blue, violet, red, orange and pink tones.
Topaz is often treated with heat or irradiated with gamma rays or electron beams in order to obtain other colorations or change its appearance from opaque to translucent or transparent.
It has a score of 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, although it is difficult to work with as it fractures easily.
It was called "gold stone" and "gold magnet" as it was said to attract wealth and help find treasure.
Its name would come from Sanskrit "Tapas" which translates as fire or heat. According to the ancient naturalist Pliny the Elder, its name would come from the name of the island "Topazios" (Zabargad or Saint John island) which is located in the Red Sea. The deposits on the island, however, are not topaz but olivine (chrysolite and peridot) along other stones.
The word "topaz" was used to refer to other yellow stones and gems such as citrine until the 17th century when the name was set.
For the ancient Egyptians, topaz symbolized the sun god Ra, which is why they wore amulets with this gem. The Romans and the Greeks believed that it gave strength, even more so on the battlefield. The Romans also believed that topaz protected from danger those who undertake a journey.
Topaz is mentioned in the Bible, it is associated with Saint Matthew who uses it to lighten the darkened hearts of his community. It also appears in a chapter of the book of Revelation in a vision of Saint John.
According to an old English superstition, topaz is able to cure lunacy.
Multiple virtues are attributed to it, some of which depend on the color of the gem. It would facilitate communication and relationships with others, inspiring confidence, optimism and charisma. It is said to help concentration by clarifying ideas and increasing intellectual faculties.
Associated with the solar plexus chakra, it reduces anguish and nerves and with the third eye chakra, dealing with insomnia, headaches and influencing general well-being, removing doubts and uncertainty.
On the physical plan, it is said that it stimulates metabolism at the same time that it energizes the body. It promotes better blood circulation and functioning of the kidneys, liver and lungs. Said to allow reaching deeper sleep, it is also helpful for digestion by providing a better assimilation of nutrients. It is recommended for those who suffer from vision problems.
One of the most sought after variants is the imperial topaz whose color varies from intense gold, pink and red with orange. Its name comes from the fact that it was discovered in Russia at the time of the tsarists emperors.
Today Brazil is one of the largest producers of imperial topazes; these often show intense shades of yellow or deep golden brown, sometimes violet.
It is also worth mentioning that some Brazilian colorless topazes can weigh dozens of kilos.
One of the most famous topazes was mistaken for a diamond for centuries. The Braganza diamond that is part of the Portuguese crown is actually a 1 689-carat topaz that was discovered in Ouro Preto, Brazil, in 1640.
Topaz in its many varieties is found in the United States, France, Germany, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Russia, Australia, and Nigeria.