The Egyptians said that topaz was colored with the golden glow of the sun god. Legend has it that topaz dispels all enchantment and helps to improve eyesight. The ancient Greeks believed that it had the power to increase strength and make its wearer invisible in times of emergency. Early discoveries from Brazil in rich reddish cognac colors to vivid pinks, were used to grace the jewelry of the 18th and 19th Century Russian Czarinas, hence earning the moniker of "Imperial Topaz."
Topaz sometimes has the amber gold of fine cognac or the blush of a peach, and all the beautiful warm browns and oranges in between. Some rare and exceptional examples are pale pink to a cherry red.
Topaz is found in Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Africa, and China. The birthstone for November, topaz is a talisman for the sign of Sagittarius and is the suggested gift for the 23rd anniversary.
Blue, once the rarest color of topaz, is today the most common, thanks to a stable enhancement process that turns colorless topaz blue. After the raw topaz is extracted from the earth and cut, it is irradiated to brown and then heated to sky blue. This enhancement process is permanent. Due to the popularity of blue topaz, a new treatment process called vapor deposition has been developed to create additional colors of topaz. In this treatment process, similar to those used by opticians and camera makers to make lens coatings, a thin colored film is bonded on the surface of topaz to create dark blue, red, pink, and green colors or rainbow iridescence. These vapor deposition-enhanced topaz colors must be handled with special care, as the coating can be scratched or abraded.
Topaz is a very hard gemstone, with a Mohs hardness of 8, but it can be split with a single sharp blow, a trait it shares with diamond. As a result, it should be protected from hard knocks.