Although pink and a reddish-orange color known as imperial are the most valuable colors of topaz, this gemstone variety is now most often seen on the market in a blue color, thanks to a new irradiation enhancement process for colorless topaz developed in the 1970’s.
The world’s most famous topaz, the huge Braganza set in the Portuguese Crown, was originally thought to be a diamond.
Topaz is the traditional US birthstone for November. Blue topaz is considered an alternate US birthstone for December.
Topaz can be the amber gold of fine cognac or the blush of a peach and all the beautiful warm browns and oranges in between.
The most valuable topaz is more red than yellow from pale pink to a “sherry” red. Imperial topaz is also highly valued. Yellow to brown topaz is more affordable.
The strong icy blue color of blue topaz is created by exposing colorless topaz to low levels of irradiation and heat. Lighter colors are created by electrons and the darker blue known as London or Super blue is created by neutrons. Treated topaz has no harmful radiation levels. Blue topaz is among the most affordable color gemstones.
Heat treatment is sometimes used to change yellowish topaz to pink.
Surface coatings and diffusion treatments can be used to create other colors. These surface coatings may come off in time with normal wear.
Topaz is most often found in a scissor cut, a rectangular gem shape with curved sides that have triangular facets. Ovals, cushions and emerald shaped are also available.
Because blue topaz is readily available and affordable, it can be found in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including unusual shapes.
Topaz has a high hardness of 8 on the Mohs scale, but it isn’t tough. Like a diamond, it has a pronounced cleavage: a single blow can break it in half so it should be protected from knocks.
The treated color of blue topaz is stable and permanent and does not require special care.
Clean topaz with mild dish soap in warm water: use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub under or behind the gemstone where dust and dirt can collect.
Some information from the GIA web site.
Sunny and affordable, citrine blends especially well with the yellow gleam of polished gold. This yellow to gold quartz is readily available; in fact the largest faceted gemstone in the record book is a 19,548 carat citrine.
Named from the French term for lemon, citron, many citrines have a juicy “lemon” color.
In ancient times, citrine was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts.
Sometimes you will hear citrine incorrectly referred to as topaz quartz. Since topaz is different mineral, the industry has ruled to eliminate this name.
Along with topaz, citrine is one of the US birthstones for November.
Citrine includes transparent quart from yellow to “honey” to orangy brown.
Although the darker orangy brown to reddish orange color, called Madeira citrine, has traditionally been the most valued, recently the bright “lemon” color has been more popular.
Citrine is generally more affordable that amethyst, its quartz sibling. Like all quartz gems, citrine is relatively plentiful and is available in a wide range fo sizes and shapes, including very large sizes. Citrine is also popular for designer cuts and carvings.
Most citrine on the market began as amethyst that was heated to turn its color to “gold”
Citrine has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, It’s durable and great for everyday wear.
Clean citrine with mild dish soap: use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub behind the stone where dust can collect.
Citrine jewelry should be kept away from prolonged exposure to strong light or heat.
Be sure to have all your jewelry professionally inspected and cleaned with us whenever you like. We recommend seeing us at least twice a year. Memorial Day and Thanksgiving are two holidays to use as reminders. Of course, if you have a special occasion, please come see us anytime.
Some information is from the GIA web site.
Revered as a symbol of hope, fidelity, and purity, opal was dubbed the Queen of
Gems by the ancient Romans because it encompassed the colors of all other gems.
Opal is prized for its unique play of color, the ability to diffract light into flashes of
Opal occurs in different colors, ranging from semi-transparent to opaque. The most
common is white opal. Crystal or water opal has a colorless body. The most valued
variety, black opal, has a dark blue, gray, or black body color. Boulder opal combines
precious opal with the ironstone in which it forms. Bright yellow, orange, or red fire
opal are quite different from the other varieties of opal. Their day-glo tones, which
are translucent to transparent, are beautiful with or without play of color. Opal, along
with tourmaline, is the birthstone for October and the suggested gift for the fourteenth
Today’s supplies of opal come primarily from Australia, Mexico and the United States. Most opals are not faceted but cut
into rounded or free-form cabochons that enhance their play of color.
Although opal is rarely enhanced by methods other than cutting and polishing, opals can be treated to bring out their play of
color. One technique is to immerse white, gray, or black opal in a sugar solution and then in strong sulfuric acid, which
carbonizes with the sugar and leaves microscopic carbon specks that blacken the body color, making its flashes of color
more visible. Opals can also be permeated with colorless oil, wax, resin, plastic, and hardeners to improve their appearance
and durability. Occasionally, some thinner or translucent opal may be painted with a black epoxy on the backside of the
gemstone to darken the body color and improve the play of color. Fire opal is not commonly enhanced.
Opal, with or without enhancement, should be treated with some care. Opal is softer than many other gemstones and
should be stored carefully to avoid being scratched by other jewelry. It should also be protected from blows, as exposed
corners can chip. Opal should not be exposed to heat or acid. I can tell you how to best care for your opal.
Velvety blue. Liquid blue. Evening-sky blue. Cornflower blue. Sapphire, beloved
for centuries as the ultimate blue gemstone. The ancient Persian rulers believed
that the earth rested on a giant sapphire and its reflection colored the heavens
blue. Indeed, the very name in Latin, “Sapphiru,” means blue.
But like the endless colors that appear in the sky, sapphire is also found in many,
many other shades besides blue, from the gold of a sunrise, to the fiery reddishorange
of sunset, to the delicate violet of twilight. Sapphire may even resemble
the pale white gloaming of an overcast day. These diverse colors are referred to
as “fancy” color sapphires.
A gift of a sapphire symbolizes a pledge of trust and loyalty. It is from this tradition
that sapphire has long been a popular choice for engagement rings.
One of Nature’s most durable gemstones, sapphire shares this quality with its sister, the ruby.
Sapphire is found in many parts of the world, but the most prized sapphires are from Myanmar (Burma), Kashmir and Sri
Lanka. The purer the blue of the sapphire, the greater the price the gemstone can command, however, many people find
that the darker hues of sapphire can be just as appealing.
Over the centuries, methods have been developed to enhance the purest hues of sapphire. This is now commonly achieved
by controlled heating, a technique that not only improves color but also improves clarity. But heating will only improve the
color if the gemstone already contains the chemistry required. Heating sapphires is a permanent enhancement, as lasting
as the gemstones themselves.
A new method of artificially changing the natural color of a sapphire is diffusion, whereby beryllium or a similar element is
diffused into the surface of the gemstone, producing a richer color. Sapphire treated by diffusion is far less costly and much
more available than rare fine untreated gems or those successfully heat-treated. Diffused sapphire is available in shades of
orange, pinkish orange, yellow and sometimes even blue. Information about diffusion should be provided on the invoice for
your jewelry. Recutting or repolishing may affect the color of some diffusion-treated stones. I can tell you
how to best care for your sapphire.
“I almost lost my diamond?!?” the woman gasped. All the jeweler could do was to nod his head, “Yes.” The woman had stopped to have her jewelry cleaned and the jeweler noticed two prongs holding her diamond had been worn completely away, endangering the security of her diamond. Fortunately, the broken prongs were on opposite sides of the diamond. Had the prongs been on the same side, the diamond would have already fallen out of the ring.
I’ve seen this same scenario too many times. Like changing the oil in your car, or checking the tire pressure, your jewelry needs regular care and maintenance. Most jewelers are happy to inspect and clean your jewelry. For my entire career, I have offered this as a free service. I’d rather check your jewelry often than to have a story similar to this. It only takes a “minute” to make sure your diamonds and gemstones will stay in the mountings while your jewelry is brightened at the same time. I also offer two other services for your jewelry. Be sure to come in soon, just in case. I really don’t like, “OML!!!!” Or, worse.