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Imperial Topaz

The name topaz probably comes from Topazios, the early Greek name for the island of Zabargad, a major source of peridot (the stone originally called topaz). The reason the name topaz switched from the stone now called peridot to the mineral it now denotes is unclear. The name also may be derived from the Sanskrit word "tapaz", meaning "fire". The highly prized imperial topaz shown here is intense golden to reddish orange and is found in Ouro Preto, Brazil. More commonly, topaz is colorless to pale blue or yellow. Until the 1950s, topaz was known almost exclusively as a yellow to golden colored gemstone. However since then, the routine radiation and heat treatment of pale-colored topaz to turn it deep blue has changed the public's perception of this gem. To most jewelry buyers today, topaz is recognized primarily as an affordable blue gemstone.

Image Number: 95-40555
Catalog Number: 116879, G3401
Weight: 875.4, 93.6 carats
Gift: O. Heyman and Brothers, 1963; Roebling Collection, 1927
Locality: Minas Gerais , Brazil


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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Mineral Sciences website Credits