Blue Topaz is December’s Birthstone

Blue Topaz is the official birthstone for the month of December.  One possible source for the name “topaz” is Topazos, the former name of Zebirget, an island in the Red Sea near an early topaz discovery. Mentioned in the Old Testament, the actual discovery of topaz is ancient and unknown. Some scholars believe the stone referred to in the Bible as topaz was actually peridot. The first real topaz gems–in the modern, scientifically accurate sense of the word–were yellow crystals found around 1737 in Germany.  Topaz has had various values attributed to it during its long history, including gentleness, fidelity, friendship, and integrity. It is also believed to bring its bearers and wearers love, wealth, and protection.

Blue Topaz is the blue variety of topaz, occurring in yellow, orange, reddish-brown, light to dark blue, red, violet, light green, and rare pink.  Topaz is usually found colorless and heated or otherwise treated to achieve various colors, including the popular blue hues. Naturally blue topaz is extremely rare.  Blue Topaz ranks an 8 on Mohs’ hardness scale. 

Topaz has basal cleavage (weaker bonds parallel to the base), so it should be cut from the crystal at a particular angle, polished and set carefully. For this reason, and because topaz isn’t very tough, a hard knock or drop onto a hard surface could break it. Extreme pressure and sudden temperature changes could also cause topaz to break, so ultrasonic and steam cleaners should be avoided, as should prolonged exposure to high heat or bright light to prevent fading. As with most gems, the safest way to clean topaz is with warm soapy water and a soft brush.