Topaz Colors: Colors of Topaz and Why

Topaz is a truly mesmerizing gemstone, famous for its wide range of vibrant and captivating colors.

The color of topaz is caused by a combination of impurities and defects within its crystal structure, rather than by the core elements that make up the gemstone. This makes it an allochromatic gem, unlike ones like ruby or sapphire where their color is inherent to their chemical composition.

Topaz is allochromatic, meaning its color comes from elements other than those making up its main composition. These "trace impurities" are present in tiny amounts and can have a dramatic impact on the gem's color.

  • Iron: Introduces yellow, orange, and brown tones, depending on concentration.
  • Chromium: Creates pink, red, and violet-to-purple hues.
  • Manganese: Can contribute to pink and reddish tones.
  • Vacancies and imperfections: Missing atoms or structural defects in the crystal lattice can lead to blue colors.

 

Topaz Colors: Colors of Topaz
 Topaz Colors: Colors of Topaz


Topaz Colors

Topaz, the November birthstone, boasts a remarkable spectrum of colors, far exceeding its familiar yellow hue.

Topaz is a beautiful and versatile gemstone that is found in a variety of colors. Natural topaz can be colorless, white, yellow, orange, brown, pink, red, purple, or blue. The most common colors of topaz are yellow, orange, and brown. Blue topaz is the most popular color of topaz, but it is actually quite rare in nature. Most blue topaz is created by treating colorless topaz with heat or radiation. The color of topaz is caused by the presence of trace impurities in the mineral.

Colors of Topaz Causes

Yellow topaz: Yellow topaz is the most common color of topaz. It is caused by the presence of iron within the crystal. Yellow topaz can range in color from a pale yellow to a deep golden brown.

Blue topaz: Blue topaz is the second most common color of topaz. It is caused by the presence of chromium or titanium within the crystal. Blue topaz can range in color from a pale blue to a deep sapphire blue.

Pink topaz: Pink topaz is a relatively rare color of topaz. It is caused by the presence of manganese within the crystal. Pink topaz can range in color from a pale pink to a deep rose red.

Red topaz: Red topaz is the rarest color of topaz. It is caused by the presence of iron or manganese within the crystal. Red topaz can range in color from a pale pink to a deep blood red.

Green topaz: Green topaz is a very rare color of topaz. It is caused by the presence of chromium or iron within the crystal. Green topaz can range in color from a pale green to a deep forest green.

Purple topaz: Purple topaz is a very rare color of topaz. It is caused by the presence of titanium or manganese within the crystal. Purple topaz can range in color from a pale lavender to a deep purple.


Imperial Topaz on matrix from Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil
 Imperial Topaz on matrix from Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Credit: A.D.H ©_© Private collection

Formation of Topaz

Topaz is formed in a variety of geological environments, including igneous, metamorphic, and hydrothermal. In igneous rocks, topaz is formed when molten magma cools and crystallizes. In metamorphic rocks, topaz is formed when existing rocks are subjected to high temperatures and pressures. In hydrothermal rocks, topaz is formed when hot mineral-rich fluids flow through rocks and deposit minerals.

Topaz is typically found in association with other minerals, such as quartz, mica, and feldspar. It is also found in association with some metals, such as tin and lithium.

Properties of Topaz

Composition: Topaz is a silicate mineral with the chemical formula Al₂SiO₄(F,OH)₂. It belongs to the orthorhombic crystal system, meaning its crystals have three unequal axes at right angles to each other.

Color: Topaz occurs in a captivating spectrum of colors, including:

  • Yellow: The most common natural color, ranging from pale lemon to deep golden honey.
  • Orange: A vibrant and fiery hue, often seen in imperial topaz.
  • Brown: A warm and earthy tone, sometimes with reddish or yellowish undertones.
  • Blue: A popular and valuable color, often achieved through heat treatment.
  • Pink and Red: Rare and precious, these colors add a touch of elegance and sophistication.
  • Green: An uncommon but mesmerizing color, often with a bluish or yellowish tinge.
  • Colorless: Pure topaz is colorless, often used as a base for treatments to achieve other colors.

Luster: Topaz possesses a vitreous luster, meaning it has a glassy, shiny appearance like glass. This luster contributes to the gem's brilliance and sparkle.

Crystal System: Topaz crystallizes in the orthorhombic system. This means its crystals have three axes of different lengths, all perpendicular to each other. Common crystal forms include prisms, bipyramids, and pinacoids.

Streak: When scratched on a streak plate, topaz leaves a white, colorless streak. This property helps distinguish it from other gemstones with similar colors.

Hardness: Topaz ranks 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it quite durable and resistant to scratching. This makes it suitable for everyday wear in jewelry.

Cleavage: Topaz has perfect basal cleavage, meaning it can easily split along a specific plane. This characteristic requires careful cutting and polishing to avoid breakage.

Crystal Form: Topaz crystals can take on various forms, including long, slender prisms, terminated pyramids, and rounded masses. Some crystals exhibit striations, or parallel grooves, on their faces.

Density: Topaz has a high specific gravity, ranging from 3.49 to 3.57 g/cm³. This high density makes it heavier than many other gemstones of similar size, which can be a helpful identification tool.

Transparency: Topaz can be transparent to translucent, allowing light to pass through it to varying degrees. This translucency adds depth and brilliance to the gemstone.

Fracture: Topaz has a conchoidal fracture, meaning it breaks with smooth, curved surfaces. This type of fracture is less common than cleavage but can still occur under pressure.

Specific Gravity: As mentioned earlier, topaz has a high specific gravity, a valuable property for identification. Its density can help distinguish it from other gemstones with similar appearances.

Solubility: Topaz is insoluble in most common acids and solvents, making it a durable gemstone resistant to chemical damage.

Magnetism: Topaz is not magnetic, unlike some other gemstones like magnetite. This property can be used to differentiate it from magnetic minerals.

Fluorescence: Some topaz varieties exhibit fluorescence, meaning they emit a visible light when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. This fluorescence can be helpful in identifying certain types of topaz.

Pleochroism: This fascinating property allows topaz to display different colors depending on the viewing angle. For example, a blue topaz might appear greenish when viewed from a different direction.

Refractive Index: The refractive index of topaz is a measure of how much light bends when it passes through the gem. This property helps gemologists identify different types of topaz.

Inclusions: Topaz can contain various inclusions, such as bubbles, needle-like crystals, and fractures. These inclusions can add character and uniqueness to the gemstone, but they can also affect its value.

Best Field Indicators: are crystal habit, color, density and hardness.

Topaz Colors: Colors of Topaz
 Topaz Colors: Colors of Topaz

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