Cochise College                   Student Papers in Geology   
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Roger Weller, geology instructor

Brooke Julian
Physical Geology
Spring 2005



Photo by R.Weller/Cochise College


The name topaz is sad to come from the word “topazes” meaning found in Arabic. The Indian word “topas” meaning fire is another root word that topaz supposedly came from. This word means fire. (History and Legend). There is a third word that topaz supposedly comes from and that is topazius meaning to seek. (Fredrik h. Pough). However it is not sure where this word comes from. Topaz is unquestionably an ancient healing stone and gemstone. (History and Legend). The Egyptians believed that topaz was colored with a golden glow of the mighty sun god Ra. Because of this they believed that topaz was very powerful and protected faithful against harm. The Romans associated topaz with Jupiter, who was their god of sun ( The Romans considered topaz to be a symbol of power of the ruler who had it. They also believed that it bestowed wisdom on the ruler. The royal crown of England is set with nearly five hundred topaz stones. These stones have been said to have been mined in the Erzgebirge better known as Ore Mountains. According to the Bible, topaz is one of the many stones that protect New Jerusalem. In ancient Mexico topaz was used in conflicts to ascertain the truth. The stone would become darker when the truth came out, (History and Legend).

            Ancient cultures also believed that topaz had many healing and magical powers. Some believe that topaz will help you to be clear sighted. It does this by dispelling all enchantment and therefore improving eyesight. The ancient Greeks believed that topaz had the power to increase strength and make its wearer invisible in times of emergency. Some people also believed that topaz changed color if it was near poisoned food or drink. Topazes mystical curative powers waxed and waned with the phases of the moon, it was said to cure insomnia, asthma, and hemorrhages, ( Topaz is also said to stimulate the metabolism and digestion. It heightens the taste buds, or at least some ancient cultures thought so. According to ancient tradition it standers the flow of blood. Topaz is said to promote relaxation and ease tension. White topaz specifically has been said to help the wearer to take on new projects. Blue topaz has been said to promote artistic inspiration. Yellow topaz has been said to counteract bad moods and calm irritability caused by sleep deprivation. The magical powers that the ancient civilizations believed topaz symbolized was the joy of life. The person who wears topaz is said to take delight in the world and himself. They will also embark on the path of self-realization. Topaz has also been considered to have great cooling powers. These include cooling boiling water and cooling hot tempers.

            Topaz is number eight on moth’s scale of hardness. Topaz has a density of three point five to three point six. It has refractive indices around one point sixty-two. Topaz has perfect basal cleavage. This means that its lines of cleavage are parallel and therefore break in a perfect line. When setting a topaz stone in a piece of jewelry the jeweler has to make sure that the cleavage is set at an angle so that it won’t break easily. If the stone is not set properly it would break on the cleavage much easier than any one would want. Then no one would want to own topaz because they would not want to waste their money on something that is just going to break on them. Topaz has a weak dichroism causing it to be elongated, giving it a richer color than quartz. This is important because some jewelers will try to sell quartz as brown topaz. They do this because brown topaz or “precios topaz” is the most sought after and expensive topaz. Precious topaz has a much higher refractive indent then quartz. It is much more attractive then quartz. (Lapidary Journal).

           Topaz comes in many colors. Brown topaz is also known as “precious”, “Champagne” or even “Smokey” topaz. Brown topaz is not a completely stable color. Because of this it could fade is constantly exposed to sunlight or strong incandescent lighting, (  There is a clear topaz that looks a lot like a diamond. The only thing is that is does not shine as well as diamonds and it breaks a lot easier.













Photos by R.Weller/Cochise College

          There is a pink topaz, however there is not a lot of information on it, so it probably is not used in jewelry as much as the other colors. There is a yellow topaz, however it has been used so much that it has become extremely rare to find. There is a green topaz but most people have never seen it so it is not talked about very much. There is an orange topaz, a sherry topaz and a red topaz. These three are only mentioned in one article, so they must not be very common either, ( Then there is blue topaz. The blue topaz is naturally occurring but the rarest of all of the topaz colors. Since blue topaz is sold in jewelry most often of all the topazes it has to man made. It is man made by heating clear topaz to a certain degree. Clear topaz can also be changed into blue by being irradiated. (www.pgrgem/com). There are three different shades of blue and each one of them has their own name. The first is sky blue which is the lightest of all the blue topazes. Swiss blue is the second and it is a moderate blue color. The last is what is called London Blue and it is an extremely deep blue topaz.

            Topaz has been found in many different mines all around the world. There are mines in Utah and Texas in the United States. Topaz has been found in the Ural Mountains in Russia. It has also been found in Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and China. Most of the mines that have been found have had many different colors in them. Scientists still don’t know how one color is formed or why there is more than one color in one pocket.

            Topaz is formed from gas and volatiles trapped in freezing granite. When found topaz crystals are isolated in pockets and are often very large. At the American Museum of Natural History in New York City there is a topaz crystal that weighs almost six-hundred pounds. Some of the best matrix specimens are from Russia and Japan. In these specimens there are white and blue topaz crystals surrounded by quartz, two types of feldspar and muscovite. In Brazil they believe that they grew in the same manner. However weathering has destroyed the less resistant minerals surrounding the topaz. The most expensive and popular crystals are often short prismatic, but well developed they are mostly attached to a bit of the matrix. The Russian topaz is much smaller than most other topaz. The reason that it is so popular is the deep blue color of the stone, ( Lapidary  Journal).