Birthstones by the Month

One of the November Birthstones is Topaz

A single Topaz crystal the November birthstone

Single Crystal of Topaz

A single crystal of topaz perched atop a natural base. [1]

Topaz Mineral Form

The gemstone Topaz is an aluminum silicate that grows in an orthorhombic crystal formation, meaning it has three axis of unequal length. Topaz gems are transparent in nature with a vitreous luster and high refractive index. Some Topaz displays pleochroism, which means the gem is able to display two or more different colors at the same time depending on the angle of light refraction.

Topaz in the rough the November birthstone

Nearly Perfect Topaz

This is a very clear natural nearly perfect crystal of topaz, one of the November birthstones. [2]

Topaz Facts

An incredibly popular gemstone, topaz is a favorite for jewelry applications due to its color variances and Mohs hardness of 8. Topaz comes in a wide variety of colors including shades of red, orange, brown, yellow, pink and colorless. While Brazil is the world’s largest supplier of Topaz, other sources include India, China, Burma, Sri Lanka, Japan, Russia, Mexico, United States and more. Topaz has been used in jewelry since antiquity wherever it has been found.

Quartz with Topaz the November birthstone

Topaz with Quartz on Albite

A very transparent topaz is the highlight of this fantastic combination piece. It has a striking balance of topaz and quartz, both nestled in crystallized cleavelandite. [3]

The characteristics of Topaz

In recent decades, a variety of Topaz known as Blue Topaz has seen an increase in popularity. This color however, does not occur naturally and is a result of colorless Topaz undergoing specific treatments. In metaphysical beliefs, Topaz is said to improve curiosity and your sense of humor. The gem has been associated with compassion as well as communication.

Cut and Clarity for the November birthstone

Topaz typically has little to no inclusions, making these gemstones appear clean to the eye. For this reason, Topaz is a favorite alternative to diamonds and is sometimes used in diamond simulants as well. It is not uncommon to find incredibly large carat Topaz gems with a flawless appearance. Gem cutters take special care when faceting Topaz due to its cleavage potential. Topaz has a perfect cleavage, resulting in the stone potentially chipping if struck too hard. It’s also important for gem cutters to capitalize on the pleochroic nature, showcasing multiple colors. Topaz has been cut into all traditional and non-traditional shapes, though because of its typically elongated or column-like growth they are favorites in long ovals or pears and teardrops.

The value of Topaz

The more intense the color, the more valuable the specific Topaz gem is. Imperial Topaz named for its gold hue is especially favored, as well darker shades of the pink-red and orange-red spectrum. Especially valuable is the rare red Topaz which makes up less than half a percent of gem-quality Topaz found. Topaz tends to be a fairly affordable gemstone, making it a favorite for use in all levels of jewelry from costume to high-end.

Topaz in the rough the November birthstone.

Crystals of Topaz in the rough

A deep amber colored crystal of topaz in rough crystal form. [4]

Is Topaz ever treated?

All Blue Topaz is treated by irradiation first and heat treated to stabilize the color change. Due to the high amount of treatment on Blue Topaz, there have been instances of the blue color fading if left exposed to direct sunlight for a long period of time. Other Topaz colors are sometimes treated with similar methods to intensify the existing color.

Topaz from China the November birthstone

Topaz From China

This amazing specimen was found in a very small pocket in China. It has very good color for Chinese topaz.[5]

More about Topaz the November birthstone

To clean Topaz it is recommended to avoid steam or ultrasonic cleaning systems since high heat or sudden temperature changes can cause fractures. While Topaz is a fairly hard stone and can handle most chemicals, it is still best to clean the gem and any jewelry with Topaz in it with warm, soapy water. Make sure to completely dry the jewelry before storing or wearing.

The American Gem Society's November Birthstone page has more information to help you buy from knowledgeable and skilled jewelers and to help you make the most informed buying decision.

Image Attribution

  1. Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  3. Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  4. By Parent Géry (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  5. Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons