That is the question. From mine to market, just like some of our other beloved precious and semi-precious stones, Topaz travels quite the distance and undergoes high volumes of labor and/or treatment before we are ready to receive it. Some of the largest crystals in the gem world, measured by kilos rather than carats, produce Topaz. As a matter of fact, one was discovered weighing at a whopping 596 pounds in Minas Gerais, Brazil (GIA). Isn’t nature amazing?
Topaz comes in all colors across the board and more, differing in tonality and saturation. Two of these, especially, are frontrunners, considered to be some of the most sought-after in the gem world. A variation of red, namely the imperial topaz, was originally sourced in the Ural Mountains of nineteenth century Russia where it was solely under ownership of the Czar’s royal family (hence the name!) According to GIA, it “represents less than one-half of 1 percent of facet-grade material found,” making the imperial highly favored and extremely rare.
Another favorite, but of the orange variety, precious topaz, was given the name to help set it apart from other gems with similar golden hues such as citrine or tourmaline. The closer to red in color, the rarer and therefore more prized it becomes. And due to pleochroism, the colors we see in topaz can change depending on the different angles at which we admire the gem. For example, we can see pinkish orange hues at one end of a precious, and at the other, deeper tones of red.
Most commonly, we can find topaz as colorless. It can be used as a substitute for center stones as is or oftentimes is treated with radiation and heat to produce a strong blue shade. Most of the blue gems we see in the gem world have been under similar treatment as they are incredibly difficult to find in nature.
In its crystal form, topaz is usually elongated or columnar, so cutters often choose oval, pear, and sometimes emerald cuts in order to retain quality. However, they can be cut into all other standard gem shapes as well with numerous cutting styles (that are best seen in topaz over most other gems.)
Topaz or not topaz… is certainly no question to us. We know the answer. Do you? :)