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November Birthstone - Topaz

The end of the year is drawing close; the skies darken early and rise late, with frost on the ground and a chill in the air. The eleventh month is disappearing into the twelfth and with that it is time to explore our November birthstones.

November is one of the lucky months that have two birthstones to select from: topaz and citrine. The original birthstone being topaz, with citrine being a later addition as a more affordable option. As the original gemstone it feels only right to begin with topaz and we will explore citrine in our next blog.

Topaz is a precious stone that heralds its name from the ancient Greek island of Topazios, now named Zabargad. Confusingly Topazios never mined topaz, but was instead a rich source of peridot gemstones, which were misidentified as topaz until later developments in minerology.

The Islands of Zabargad

Scoring an 8 on the Mohs hardness scale topaz is a great gemstone for everyday wear. Pure topaz comes in a colourless form but can be found in most colours of the rainbow, either due to the presence of chromium (usually resulting in pink, red or purple colours) or because of an atomic imperfection (resulting in yellow, brown or blue stones).

Various Topaz Colours

The most prized topaz colour is known as ‘imperial’ topaz and will have a pink, peach, orange or champagne tone. Named in honour of the Russian monarchy the imperial topaz is mostly found in Brazil, but also has small deposits in its namesake’s country.

An imperial topaz from the SHJB archives

On the other end of the cost scale, we have colourless topaz. Often irradiated to blue, colourless topaz is relatively common and as such is worth significantly less per carat. Indeed, so common is treated blue topaz that there are trade terms for specific tones of blue, including: Swiss blue, London blue and sky blue.

Different blue topaz tones, from left to right: London blue, baby Swiss, Swiss blue and London blue

Not only do we love topaz because of its range of colours, but also its range in price. You can happily buy a blue topaz ring for around £100 whereas an imperial topaz of the same size will range more towards £1000, depending on quality. So versatile is this beautiful gemstone that there truly is something for everyone, you November babies are very lucky.


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