Topaz is found in several locations across the world, including Brazil, Russia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia. It measures at 8 on the Mohs scale, meaning it is a relatively durable & wearable gemstone.
Although people often think of topaz as being blue, it in fact comes in a wonderful range of colours including yellow, brown, orange, green, red, pink and purple. Colourless topaz is also common and is sometimes used as a low-cost alternative to diamond, or treated in order to create the widely found sky-blue topaz.
Topaz is pleochroic, which means it can show different colours in different crystal directions. Topaz is also allochromatic, meaning the colour is caused by impurities or defects in the crystal structure, rather than its basic chemical composition. For example, trace amounts of the element chromium cause natural pink, red and purple colouration and imperfections in the crystal formation create yellows, browns and blues. If both chromium and defective crystal structure are present, the topaz will be orange.
You may come across “Imperial” topaz. This term refers to medium reddish orange to orange-red topaz and is especially valuable. This name originated in 19th Century Russia, when the Ural Mountains were the main source of topaz. The pink topaz being mined there at the time was named in honour of the Russian Tsar and ownership of the gem was restricted to the royal family only! These Russian mines are now largely depleted and Brazil produces the majority of the world’s high-quality topaz today.