Every once in a while, we all come across gems that we don’t know much about. White topaz is one of these gemstones. It is an excellent choice for any jewelry and is often confused with white zoisite and diamond, which are very different from topaz. In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about this gem, including where it comes from, what other varieties there are, and some common misconceptions.
Where Is It From?
White topaz is found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and China. It can also be found in the U.S., but that does not mean that it’s mined here or comes from America. It just means that this is where it has shown up for sale because of smuggling issues elsewhere like Brazil (the large majority of mined material is exported to be cut and polished elsewhere). The white topaz that comes from Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and China are all very similar for the most part.
Colors and Sizes
Topaz is a gemstone that occurs in a variety of colors. However, white topaz only comes in the colorless form, with a few exceptions. These colored forms include:
– Sky blue – This color variation occurs when trace amounts of iron are present during formation. It is not often seen on the market because these stones do not have good clarity and light dispersion due to fine particles that scatter light rather than allowing it to pass through.
– Green – In this case, green represents a chromium content that could be as high as 1%. Chromium tends to be an unstable element, so green topazes tend to fade over time and turn yellowish or brownish green if exposed to intense light.
– Orange – In the case of orange topaz, it’s a natural counterpart to citrine and is often found in the same stones. It is caused by the presence of manganese and occurs due to irradiation (radiation exposure). For this reason, you might also see black lines throughout the gemstone because chromium is unstable and can be present along with other elements like iron and titanium.
As for size, white topaz comes in sizes that range from under 1 carat (200 milligrams) to 5 carats (1 gram), which is typical for most gems. Larger sizes are difficult to achieve because large crystals tend not to form well, which results in many tiny crystals within one stone instead of one giant crystal. It can be essential to consider when shopping for a topaz because it will affect the appearance of the stone after being set in jewelry.
The Different Varieties
Unlike gems such as sapphire, ruby, and emerald, which come in only one color, topaz occurs in various colors. The most common color is blue or bluish-green. Still, there are also shades of yellow to brownish orange depending on the presence and abundance of transition elements like iron and titanium (and chromium when it turns green).
It means that you might find what seem like very different stones all listed under the same name: “topaz.” However, this has more to do with the chemical composition than anything else because even though they look different, they still have similar physical properties.
For example, orange topaz is just another shade of topaz that occurs due to exposure to radiation rather than coloration by elements like iron or titanium.
Another thing that needs to be considered is clarity. Just because it’s white doesn’t mean that it has perfect clarity. Most white topaz gemstones have outstanding inclusions which are not visible to the naked eye but can affect light dispersion and thus the appearance of the stone after being set in jewelry.
White Topaz: As mentioned above, this means that the topaz is colorless with no trace of any metals other than aluminum and silicon, which are present during formation. It also lacks any yellow hues due to iron impurities within the crystal structure, which gives some topaz color (pink, peach/orange, green and blue).
You can also get this color by irradiation (radiation exposure) which will cause a greenish cast while surface heating causes it to turn orange/red.-
Blue Topaz: This color occurs when the topaz is exposed to trace amounts of cobalt or manganese during formation. It’s also seen in natural white topaz gemstones if they contain these transition elements due to the high temperatures involved in the formation process.
Yellow Topaz: As with blue topaz, yellow topaz occurs when there are traces of iron present during formation (iron tends to be an unstable element, so its presence may vary). This type of topaz turns pink or peach due to chromium or titanium impurities when exposed to heat.
Orange Topaz: As mentioned earlier, this type of topaz is often found in the same stone as citrine and has a higher manganese concentration than yellow topaz. When exposed to heat or irradiation, it turns dark brown/black, while surface heating causes it to turn orange.
Green Topaz: This color occurs naturally when chromium is present during formation, but it can also be created by irradiation (radiation exposure). You might see black lines throughout the gemstone because chromium is unstable and can be present with other elements like iron and titanium after being exposed to high temperatures during formation. It’s also seen in blue topaz that contains a high concentration of manganese.
Pink Topaz: This occurs in natural or irradiated blue topaz, which contains titanium impurities. It can also be created by heating citrine (yellow topaz) due to its high manganese content.
Colorless Topaz: The aluminum and silicon give it the familiar transparent appearance that is most often seen in jewelry. However, trace amounts of transition elements like chromium may change to pink, green, blue, or yellow when exposed to heat or irradiation.
Double Refraction: Due to outstanding inclusions within the stone, some white topaz naturally has double refraction, which causes an optical effect called doubling, where two images overlap with one being “upside-down.” It’s not visible to the naked eye unless examined under magnification.
Eye-Clean: Some white topaz may contain inclusions visible to the naked eye, but these will be positioned near or at the bottom of the stone (depending on its cut), so it won’t affect the appearance when worn.
Transparent: – White topaz is usually considered an opaque material which means that light does not pass through it very well (producing a darker color). However, some transparent varieties exist, making them suitable for jewelry use like earrings and pendants if cut in specific shapes.
If you’re looking at white topaz stones in loose form, remember that they can come in many shapes, including round, oval, trillion, pear, and a few fancy shapes like trillion faceted heart.
Types Of Treatments Available
One of the most common treatments for this material is irradiation which gives it a more yellow color. This treatment can be reversed by heating the stones, so if you purchase these types of topaz online or at a local jewelry store, ask about their return policy and whether they offer a heating service. Heat treating will not turn an irradiated stone back into its original state, but it will lessen the yellow tint added to them from being irradiated.
Irradiation – most commonly, is done with gamma rays, but it can also involve neutrons and electron beams. This process produces a more yellow color in the stones. If you want to avoid irradiated gems, purchase those treated by heat (the most effective and least harmful way to produce topaz with a lighter color).
Heat Treatment – this results in a stone with little yellow tint than irradiated. Still, it does not turn the stone entirely back into its original state (the yellow paint cannot be wholly removed from irradiated stones).
Some of these gems may be oiled or waxed, so ask about their treatments before buying them to ensure you are getting the best quality.
Topaz is a very durable gemstone, and it does not need to be cleaned as often (it can safely go longer without such attention than most gems). One of the more appealing aspects of these stones is that they come in many different colors, meaning you will never get bored with them. Therefore, this material can last for generations and is a good investment choice for people who don’t want to trade their jewelry every few years (the topaz collection might be all you ever own, depending on your financial situation).
White topaz is also affordable, making it an excellent gift idea for birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions. These stones are so beautiful that even celebrities have been known to wear them from time to time (Beyonce has been photographed wearing an emerald-cut white topaz ring).
Misconceptions and Other Facts
White Topaz is often confused with white zoisite and diamond because of its color (white topaz has a slight blue or grayish hue under natural light). However, the two materials are very different from each other. White zoisite is much softer and less valuable because it cannot be cut into large, high-grade stones like white topaz (this material can only be used for more miniature carvings). Diamonds are also very different from the material because they come in various colors (including clear), whereas white topaz is only available in white.
It is believed that the name topaz comes from the ancient Sanskrit word “tapas,” which means fire or burn. This ties into the fact that this material can be heated to very high temperatures without being damaged (this process is known as thermaling).
Thermal was thought to increase the color, but it has been shown that this process does not improve the paint from its natural state. It is believed to be because topaz is a very stable stone with a high melting point that will not absorb any additional chemicals when heated (unlike quartz which can become charged and hold onto treatments).
White topaz can be confused with diamond, white zoisite, or Albite. However, there are ways to distinguish diamond from the material because diamonds have a much higher hardness rating (8.5 on the Mohs scale compared to topaz which only measures a 6), and they produce a very distinct sound when dropped onto a hard surface (topaz makes a small thud). Diamonds also come in every color of the rainbow, while white topaz is only available in white. White zoisite can be distinguished from this material by its lower-grade clarity and softness.
Albite is another gemstone that should not be confused with this stone. It has many microscopic crystals arranged inside the gem giving it an almost frosted appearance [when viewed microscopically]. In contrast, topaz has a few tiny, individual crystals visible to the naked eye]. Albite is also much softer (only measuring 3.5 on the Mohs scale), and it has lower specific gravity than topaz, making it lighter in weight.
White topaz is one of the most popular gemstones on the market today because of its color, strong durability, and wide range of jewelry types made from the material. This material is often misidentified with diamonds available in every color except for white; however, you can distinguish the two by looking at their hardness levels since diamond has a higher level than topaz
. White zoisite should not be confused with this material either because they are very different when observed under magnification (zoisite has many tiny crystals layered over each other while topaz has a few larger crystals in the same plane). Albite should not be confused with this material either because it is softer and contains tiny, individual crystals visible under magnification.
Suppose you are thinking about purchasing white topaz. In that case, it is essential to find a jeweler that can adequately identify the stone through magnification to get precisely what you are paying for.