The History and Meaning Behind November's Birthstone: Topaz

November and December’s birthstones are versions of topaz.  November’s birthstone is known as the “Imperial Topaz,” with its deep orange color and pinkish undertones.  Meanwhile, December babies are honored with the blue topaz.  Topaz is one of the many gems where the impurities are the key to its beauty.


Topaz Ring From our Estate Collection

The name “topaz” seems to have many origins.  The words “topas” or “tapaz” are found in Sanskrit, an ancient language from India, and scholars believe these words for “fire” are speaking of the gem we now call topaz.  The Greek island of Zabargad was once called Topazios.  True topaz never came from the island of Topazios, but a similar looking gem known as peridot did.  For many years, peridot was thought to be topaz until modern minerology could distinguish the two.  Most topaz today is mined from Brazil.

Blue Topaz Ring From Marco Bicego

But like many rare gems, topaz is believed to possess mystical powers.  People on the island of Topazios and the rest of ancient Greece thought topaz brought them strength.  Renaissance Europeans believed it would break magic spells and fend off anger.  In India, where the word “tapaz” appears to have originated, people believed that a topaz worn above the heart assures long life, beauty, and intelligence.  Meanwhile, others felt by wearing a topaz amulet on your left arm would protect you from dark magic.


Photo credit: gia.edu

From calming tempers, curing madness, and eliminating nightmares, topaz continues to captivate people to this day.  Surprisingly, it’s the imperfections within the gem that make it so amazing.  Topaz is a hard silicate which, by itself, may not look so compelling.  But when impurities are introduced, and defects affect the crystal structure, brilliant shades of yellow, blue, red, green, brown, violet and pink appear.  


Yellow Topaz Pendant

November’s birthstone, named for the Russian Czars of the 19th century, is called the imperial topaz.  December welcomes the blue topaz as its birthstone.  Topaz sets wonderfully in a necklace, broach, cocktail ring, or earrings.  Whether you are buying it for its natural beauty, or like the ancient Egyptians you believe the dramatic yellow color came straight from Ra, the sun god, we think you’ll love the look of this month’s gemstone.  


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