Topaz has been a popular gemstone for centuries, with ancient civilizations bestowing powers on the gemstone. These powers, while a little exaggerated, nevertheless gave Topaz an important status within society. These stones come in many different colors and color is perhaps the single most determining factor of its value.
The intensity of color is of primary importance when when it comes to Topaz value, and the rarity of a particular hue, especially in untreated form is key. All other things being equal, treated stones in shades of blue are the most common whilst pink and intense yellows are the rarest, commanding high prices on the open market.
Antique Topaz tends to be shades of brown which were common before the introduction of heat treatment, a method by which the stones (usually colorless) are changed to shades of blue. Sky Blue, Swiss Blue and London Blue Topaz are all shades of blue produced by treatment., with London Blue Topaz being the more expensive. Colorless Topaz has been used in jewelry recently and its lower cost makes it attractive even though it does not have as strong a visual impact as other ‘colored’ versions of the stone. However, a pink Topaz can be as much as ten times more valuable than a blue stone of equal clarity, cut and carat weight.
‘Imperial’ Topaz, a stone in shades of pink, orange, yellow or even brown is certainly amongst the most valuable. ‘Imperial’ Topaz are rarely treated and are truly magnificent pieces.
Topaz is one of the few gemstones which can commonly be found “eye clean”, meaning without ‘inclusions’ in the stone that can be seen by the naked eye. If the clarity is poor, the stone tends to look milky and opaque. These types of heavily included Topaz will probably be used as beads in less expensive jewelry; it is the really clear Topaz that is fashioned into more expensive jewelry.
The aim of the cutter is to get the Topaz to reflect the maximum amount of light, with as little ‘leakage’ as possible; it’s all about the sparkle. Topaz is a relatively common gemstone and so you can feel confident that there are well cut stones available at competitive prices generally ranging from$10 to $500. Poor cuts, dull and lacking sparkle are of little value.
In most cases, gemstones are so valuable the cutter is inhibited from being truly creative; he cannot afford to lose too much carat weight in producing an imaginative cut. Given that carat weight is not a major determinant of value in the case of Topaz, it is a stone which lends itself to far more imaginative design, and that in itself will enhance the value of the stone. A ‘Fancy Cut’ Topaz can be significantly more expensive than a stone with similar color, cut and carat weight.
Small Topaz has little value because the stone can commonly be found both clear and vivid up to ten carats. There will be little difference in value between an eight or ten carat stone, the value is in the color and clarity.
Heat treatment is commonly accepted by the industry and is the process by which most of the pink Topaz in the market today is produced, usually starting from an original yellow stone. Irradiation, usually via exposure to fast neutrons in a nuclear reactor, has its critics because of the possible residual radioactivity but it is a common process for producing a range of blues from colorless stones. These stones are usually kept out of the market for several months until such time as the radioactivity decays to safe levels. Topaz is also coated and heated to produce a variety of colors and the colorless interior will give itself away if claims are made that the stone has not be treated.
Probably the most famous topaz deposit was found in Saxony in Germany, in the Schneckenstein cliffs that were mined for about sixty years and are now protected. The crystals from this area themselves were fairly small but have a lovely honey yellow color. However, in terms of famous individual stones, the prize goes to an enormous Topaz, which was initially mistaken for as a diamond and resides in the Portuguese Crown the “Braganza” , and weighs 1680 carats!
If you are considering buying a Topaz, just take a look at the list of some of the properties Man has bestowed on this stone over the Ages. In the Middle Ages, Topaz prevented nightmares and encourage faithfulness, the Romans thought it improved eyesight; it gave the Greeks health and the Egyptians strength, the Indians beauty and longevity.
The yellow Topaz is the stone of love and relationships!
You may get all these things for the purchase of a stone that is far from the most expensive in the gemstone and jewelry trade.
Topaz is a fairly common stone, and it is not uncommon to find fairly large stones. It has a range of colors and it is a stone that can be cut into a range of imaginative designs because the carat value is not all important. You will do well to consider it in all its shapes and sizes next time you want to buy a present or want to get a piece of jewelry to finish off that new outfit.