November’s birthstone, the topaz, symbolizes love and affection. It is believed to give the wearer increased strength and intellect.
Revered as a powerful gemstone since ancient times, topaz is thought to bring healing and protection to anyone who owns it.
Topaz occurs in a range of magnificent colors – blue, pale green, varying shades of yellow, pink, red, brown and even black. Pure topaz itself is a colorless stone.
Most of its colors occur due to minor element substitutions and defects in the crystal. Some colors are unstable and can fade away; for example, brown topaz mined in Siberia can be bleached by sunlight.
Because of its rarity, topaz is an expensive gem. The most valued and rarest color is red. Imperial topaz – sherry colored varieties of brownish-yellow, orange-yellow and reddish-brown – are the most popular topaz stones and command high prices, as do pink colored stones. Light blue and pale yellow topaz is of less value, but are nevertheless stunning in beauty.
Those who are fortunate enough to enjoy November birthdays get their choice of birthstone jewelry with these wonderfully stunning gemstones. They make for great jewelry, including stud earrings, necklaces, engagement rings, pendants, and so much more, and also make for a very uniquely precious and thoughtful gift for someone you love.
Looking for a piece of jewelry to give to a November baby? Keep reading to find out more about topaz – and perhaps get some inspiration from the rich lore accompanying this magnificent gemstone.
The history behind it
The name of the November birthstone derives from Topazios – the ancient Greek name for St. John’s Island in the Red Sea. Although the yellow gemstones famously mined there probably weren’t topaz, it soon became the name for most yellowish stones.
Despite ancient references likely encompassing all yellow gemstones, topaz boasts a long history filled with meaning. According to legend, topaz banished lunacy and enchantment.
In ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, yellow gemstones were considered helpful in calming tempers, reducing nightmares and curing madness. Throughout the European Renaissance, topaz was thought to subdue anger and dissipate incantations. Hindus and African shamans alike regarded topaz as sacred, believing in its healing powers.
Nowadays, the largest producer of quality topaz gemstones is Brazil. Other sources include Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Australia, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico, and the U.S. — mainly California, Utah, and New Hampshire.
Topaz can make very attractive mineral specimens due to their high luster, nice colors and well-formed, multifaceted crystals.
For those with November birthdays, topaz is an exquisite stone that often attracts attention and can be passed down for generations as a valued heirloom.
Choosing a topaz
Chemically, topaz is known as aluminum silicate fluoride hydroxide. Because of strong chemical bonds within this mineral, topaz is the hardest of silicate minerals.
Measuring 8 on the Moh’s scale, topaz is a very hard and durable gemstone. It is the hardest silicate mineral and one of the hardest minerals in nature.
These November birthstones occur in a large variety of sizes, from tiny crystals to large rocks. It is one of few gem minerals which can grow into enormous crystals. Topaz crystals can reach an incredible size of several hundred pounds.
The biggest uncut stone, a specimen found in Brazil weighing almost 600 pounds, is on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Topaz gemstones have one perfect cleavage, which makes it ideal for a variety of different shapes and cuts. Cleavage refers to the way in which a stone breaks. It either fractures leaving an uneven surface or cleaves, breaking along a more distinctive plane and this all depends on the internal atomic structure of each individual stone.
Perfect cleavage means the stone will break along a smooth surface making it far easier to cut successfully. Diamonds, like topaz, also have perfect cleavage.
On the downside, perfect cleavage does come with drawbacks, as boiling water or a hard blow may cause the stone to break (cleave), so be careful.
The topaz’s perfect cleavage can make it prone to chipping or cracking, but when cut correctly, topaz makes very wearable and durable jewelry. This gem, with its lively fire, clarity, beautiful colors and hardness is ideal for jewelry such as clips, necklaces, brooches and bracelets.
When purchasing topaz, you will want to familiarize yourself with the difference between the different types of topaz stone. A precious topaz, by today’s standards, refers to a topaz that is more yellow in color and can range up to a more orange or peach-like color. Topaz stones are commonly misidentified because of how distinct and vast the possibilities are.
When purchasing a topaz, one of the most important characteristics to investigate would definitely be its color. When we discuss color, we will want to take a closer look at the stone’s hue, tone, and saturation.
Depending on the color of the individual stone you have chosen for the November birthstone, you can choose from yellow or white gold metal, or you can choose a sterling silver metal.