silver-white topaz - Namibia
silver-white topaz - Namibia

Topaz Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


The traditional November birthstone, topaz is a popular gem. Although frequently associated with golden yellow as well as blue, it can be found in a variety of colors, including colorless. The rarest are natural pink, red, and fine golden orange, sometimes with a pink tone.

5 Minute Read

The traditional November birthstone, topaz is a popular gem. Although frequently associated with golden yellow as well as blue, it can be found in a variety of colors, including colorless. The rarest are natural pink, red, and fine golden orange, sometimes with a pink tone.

silver-white topaz - Namibia
Round, silver-white topaz, 18.76 cts, 16.9 x 16.9 x 11.4 mm, Spitzkopje, Namibia. © ARK Rare Gems. Used with permission.

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Topaz Value

.5 to 1 carat
Imperial
- /ct
1 to 3 carats
Imperial
to /ct
3 carats plus
Imperial
to /ct

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Although clarity and size have a significant effect on the value of topaz, color has the greatest impact on pricing.

The highest values go to the rare pink and red stones, then orange and yellow. Intense, reddish orange topaz is sometimes called “imperial topaz.” Yellow, orange, and brown stones are somewhat common. Colorless topazes are common and are low-value gems in any size.

pink topaz - Russia
Topaz, Russia, (17.84). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

The term “precious topaz” refers to stones with a rich yellow to a medium, peachy orange color.

precious topaz - Brazil
Oval-cut precious topaz, 11.30 cts, Brazil. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Blue has become the most popular color for topazes on the market today. However, almost all such gems began as colorless or pale blue topazes. A safe and very common heat-and-radiation treatment gives them striking, darker colors. Blue topazes are very inexpensive.

Swiss blue topaz
Oval-cut, “Swiss blue” topaz, 6.55 cts, 12.10 x 9.80 x 7.31 mm, Brazil. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Jasper52.

For more information on topaz quality factors, consult our buying guide and engagement ring guide.

faceted topazes - various sources
Topazes: Russia (6.72), Brazil (12.59), Mexico (5.29), Brazil (4.65) // Brazil (25.25, 8.76, 7.20, 8.45), Russia (17.84). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Comments

Traditionally, all yellow, brown, and orange transparent gems were called topaz. With the advent of modern gemology, many of these stones were re-classified as different species.

Because of topaz's long association with the color yellow, citrines are sometimes misidentified as topazes. However, citrine is a quartz, a distinct gem species. Topaz has different physical and optical properties than citrine, most notably greater hardness and brilliance.

custom-cut imperial topaz - Brazil
Custom-cut imperial topaz, 9.60 cts, Brazil. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Identifying Characteristics

The specific gravity (SG) and optics of topaz vary by stone color.

Locality

α

β

γ

Birefringence

SG

Color

Comments

Russia

1.609

-

1.619

0.010

3.53

blueish pale yellow

F-rich

Ouro Preto, Brazil

1.629

1.631

1.637

0.008

3.53

brownishrich in (OH), Cr
Thomas Range, Utah

1.607

1.61

1.618

0.011

3.56

sherry
Katlang, Pakistan

1.629

1.632

1.649

0.010

3.52

rose-pinkcontains Cr
Katlang, Pakistan

1.610

1.613

1.619

0.009

3.56

brownish
Tarryall Mountains, Colorado

1.610

-

1.62

0.010

3.56

blue
Schneckenstein, Saxony Germany

1.619

-

1.627

0.008

3.53

faint yellow
topaz on albite
Topaz on albite. Photo by Ed Uthman. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Synthetics

While topaz has been synthesized in labs, it's not usually commercially available.

Enhancements

In the 1960's, a two-step method was discovered to turn colorless topaz blue. First, the rough is irradiated, turning it brown. Then, the brown stone is heated to achieve a stable, blue color. The process so nearly duplicates what happens in the Earth, a treated stone cannot be distinguished from a natural.

brown topaz
This pear-shaped topaz (18.88 cts, Russia) has an unusual, coffee-brown color. It's possible this was a white topaz turned brown by irradiation. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Prior to this development, natural, light blue topaz was rare and valuable, while colorless topaz was common and could be purchased cheaply per ton. The aftermath: prices for blue topaz fell, and these are now among the least expensive gems available.

heated and irradiated blue topaz
Blue topaz, irradiated and heated, approximately 115 cts. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Topaz that has undergone this treatment and been turned dark blue is sometimes used as a simulant for aquamarine. These are distinct gem species. However, since topaz is typically less expensive than aquamarine, consumers should be wary of unscrupulous vendors who may try to sell treated topaz as aquamarine.

Heat treatments are also used to change some yellow, orange, and brown topaz to pink or red. This procedure is common, stable, and undetectable.

untreated, naturally blue topaz - Brazil
This untreated, naturally medium-blue topaz from Brazil contains inclusions of hematite platelets and fluid-filled cavities. Oval cut, 32.21 cts, 19 x 17.4 mm. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Mystic Topaz

A chemical vapor deposition treatment (CVD) is used to create mystic topaz, a stone with a multicolored coating on its surface. This is a common procedure. The surface coating can easily be scratched. This treatment can be detected by immersion.

mystic topaz ring
Mystic topaz ring. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Richard D. Hatch & Associates.

Sources

Brazil

Brazil is the principal source of gem-quality topaz. Minas Gerais produces fine yellow to orange crystals, facetable to large sizes, as well as colorless and pale yellow crystals up to several hundred pounds in size. These crystals are typically transparent. This locality also produces pale blue crystals and rolled pebbles, much of which is facetable.

Some orange crystals from Ouro Preto contain chromium (Cr). When heated (burned), they turn pink and show a Cr spectrum. Such material may be distinctly reddish even before heating.

Untreated, very pale blue to colorless topaz, 6.22 cts, 15.4 x 10.3 x 9.0 mm, Brazil. "Aquarian Eye" cut by Loren Brown. © RSA Gems. Used with permission.

Russia

Russia is another major source of gem-quality topaz. The Ural Mountains region produces fine blue crystals, often cuttable, as well as gemmy material in green and magenta colors. Sanarka produces pink topazes.

Australia

Queensland and Tasmania yield blue, colorless and brownish gem crystals. Tingha, New South Wales produces green, gemmy material.

Mexico

San Luis Potosí produces fine brownish to sherry-colored crystals, as well as colorless and some yellowish, in many excellent, cuttable forms. Some of this material can be darkened by irradiation, but the color fades in sunlight.

topazes on matrix - Mexico
Cluster of light sherry-colored topazes on matrix, 5.4 x 3.9 x 2.4 cm, Tepetate, Mun. de Villa de Arriaga, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Pakistan

Mardan produces fine pink crystals, terminated and cuttable, in limestone matrix, at Ghundao Hill, near Katlang.

United States

  • New Hampshire: crystals.
  • Texas: colorless and blue, some facetable to large size.
  • Pike's Peak area, Colorado: fine blue crystals in granitic rocks; also colorless, reddish, yellow, some facetable.
  • Thomas Range, Utah: sherry-colored terminated crystals in rhyolite; facetable.
topazes on rhyolite - Utah
Orange topazes on a rhyolite matrix, 2.7 x 2.6 x 2.6 cm, Pismire Wash, Thomas Range, Juab Co., Utah, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Other Sources

Other notable, gem-quality sources include the following:

  • Schneckenstein, Germany: faint yellow, gemmy.
  • Madagascar: various colors in crystals and pebbles, often cuttable.
  • Myanmar: colorless, blue, brown, pink, and yellow gemmy masses from gem gravels.
pinkish brown topaz - Myanmar
Cushion-cut, pinkish brown topaz, 32.27 cts, 18.9 x 14.9 x 13.7 mm, Myanmar. © ARK Rare Gems. Used with permission.
  • Klein Spitzkopje, Namibia: colorless and blue crystals from pegmatites, gemmy.
  • Jos, Nigeria: fine blue crystals, also white, many cuttable.
  • Sri Lanka: colorless, yellow, and blue gemmy masses from gem gravels.
  • Afghanistan; India; Japan; Vietnam; Norway; United Kingdom (Cornwall, England, Scotland); Zimbabwe.
rough topazes - Sri Lanka
Tumbled, uncut, colorless topaz rough, 40-piece lot, 94.28 ctw, Sri Lanka. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

Topaz crystals may weigh hundreds of pounds and are often quite gemmy at this size. Gems up to 20,000 carats have been cut from material of various colors. Museums seem to delight in obtaining monster-sized topaz gems for display. Pink gems over 5 carats (Pakistan) are rare, however, and a Brazilian deep orange gem weighing more than 20 carats is considered large.

pink topaz - Pakistan
Topaz, Pakistan (36 cts, set in ring). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

The largest known pink topaz is an oval of 79+ carats from Russia. The largest Brazilian topaz crystal ever found of an orange color reportedly measured 5 x 27 cm and weighed nearly 2 kg. A very fine lot (9 cuttable crystals) found in the 1960s weighed over 900 grams and yielded several superb gems, one weighing more than 100 carats and several over 50 carats.

Giant topazes exist in blue, colorless, and pale yellow colors. Red topaz from the tips of some Brazilian crystals is exceedingly rare, the largest about 70 carats.

Gemstone with over 1,000 facets - Smithsonian Institution
On display at the Smithsonian Institution, this 12,555-ct topaz has over a thousand facets. It was mined in Minas Gerais, Brazil and cut in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Photo by thisisbossi. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.

Large Topaz Gems from Museum Collections

  • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 7,725 (yellow, Brazil); 3,273 (blue, Brazil); 2,680 (colorless, Brazil); 1,469 (yellow-green, Brazil); 1,300 (sherry, Brazil); 685 (pale blue, Brazil); 398 (pale blue, Russia); 325 (colorless, Colorado); 170.8 (champagne, Madagascar); 146.4 (pale blue, Texas); 93.6 (orange, Brazil); 50.8 (colorless, Japan); 34 (deep pink, Brazil); 24.4 (blue, New Hampshire); 17 (blue, California).
  • American Museum of Natural History (New York): 71 (red, Brazil); 308 (pale blue, Brazil); 258 (deep blue, Brazil); 1463 (deep blue, egg-shaped, Brazil); 241 (pale orange-brown, Myanmar).
  • Natural History Museum (London, UK): 137 pounds (crystal, Norway); 1,300 (colorless, Brazil); 614 (blue, Brazil).
  • Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Ontario, Canada): 3,000 (blue, Brazil); 365 (pale brown, Myanmar).
  • Los Angeles County Museum (Los Angeles): 1,800 grams (orange crystal, Brazil).
  • National Museums of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario): 498.61 (light blue, untreated, Brazil).
  • Private Collections: 173 (blue, Texas); 7,033 (dark blue, treated); 21,327 (light blue, treated, emerald-cut, reputedly the world's largest faceted gemstone called "The Brazilian Princess"); ~79 (pink oval, Russia, world's largest this color but not flawless); 58.8 (pink oval. Russia, flawless).

Topaz Trade Names

  • Sky Blue, aqua blue (enhanced)
  • Swiss Blue, medium blue (enhanced)
  • London Blue, dark blue (enhanced)
topazes
Photos courtesy of Barbara Smigel, Artistic Colored Stones.
  • Mystic, surface treated topaz showing multiple colors
  • Hyacinth or jacinth, dark orange to orange red
  • Imperial topaz, highly saturated medium, reddish orange
  • Precious, rich yellow to medium, peachy orange color
  • Sherry, brownish yellow to orange or yellow brown
  • White, colorless

Smoky quartz gemstones are sometimes erroneously referred to as "smoky topaz," "Brazilian topaz," or "Madeira topaz." Consult our List of False or Misleading Gemstone Names for more examples.

gold and hyacinth earrings - 19th century, Spain
Do these gold earrings from 19th-century Spain contain garnets, zircons, or topazes? Historically, the names "hyacinth" or "jacinth" described reddish brown stones. In modern times, these terms are used rarely but most frequently for reddish brown zircons. Nevertheless, you may still encounter these terms applied to topazes with this color. Gift of Marguerite McBey, 1980. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Public Domain. (Cropped).

Care

Due to topaz's perfect cleavage, don't use ultrasonic or steam systems to clean them. Both vibrations and heat could cause these gems to split. Instead, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water.

Some prongs can place stress on topaz's cleavage plane. However, an expert custom jewelry maker can set this stone properly to avoid stress. Protective settings can also minimize the strain on a topaz.

Consult our gemstone jewelry care guide for more recommendations.

gold ring with blue topaz, diamonds, and opals
14k yellow gold ring featuring a fantasy-carved blue topaz, accented by four full-cut diamonds and three opal inlays. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Clars Auction Gallery.

Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com


Barbara Smigel, PhD. GG

Barbara Smigel is a GIA certified gemologist, facetor, jewelry designer, gem dealer, gemology instructor and creator of the well-regarded educational websites acstones.com and bwsmigel.info.


Donald Clark, CSM IMG

The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”


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