In Defense of Topaz (aka: Falsities By A Friend)
A Guest Blog by Rohan Agrawal G.G., F.G.A., Biased Topaz Lover and Topaz Dealer who has Financial Stake In You Liking Topaz Despite Original Eve's Truth Re: Topaz (Read Here). Rohan is a Friend of Eve (At least he was before expressing his absurd fondness for Topaz...)
In Defense of Topaz
by Rohan Agrawal
Despite biased arguments presented by Eve, Topaz is a lovely gem and November Babies should be proud of their birthstone. I can see where she’s coming from*, but I don’t think it’s a fair assessment of the stone. It’s like arguing that Oxygen is a dangerous gas. If the atmosphere were pure oxygen, it would kill us instantly and set the world on fire. While all that is true, we also need oxygen to breathe.
Ok so, that might have been a poorly constructed analogy. I don’t think there’s anyway Topaz could do harm to us* or is necessary for our survival, but hear me out. Topaz is a beautiful gem and has its place in jewelry.
Here’s why I like Topaz:
1) Fake Color:
Yes, the color is fake* and achieved through heating and irradiation. But do you know what irradiation means? Colorless Topaz is placed in a nuclear reactor and bombarded with neutron radiation to bring out the blue colors**. Let me repeat that one more time. It is placed in a NUCLEAR REACTOR. How many materials do you know of that can survive exposure to a nuclear reactor? Topaz can, BECAUSE SCIENCE! Topaz is like the comic book heroes of gemstones! It enters the reactor as an ordinary colorless gem and exits as a blue beauty that is ready to save November Babies from the tiresome world of expensive gemstones.
To reiterate a point made by Eve, the trade of irradiated Blue Topaz is monitored by the USNRC. All dealers and treaters abide by their guidelines and regulations. Regular Blue Topaz emits less radiation than the sun.
A fun fact about Blue Topaz: the Swiss and London Blue Topaz are named the places they were first discovered in (Switzerland and London).
2) Slippery Personality:
While I think stones like Mystic or Pink Topaz have their own merits, my position here relates to the value of the November birthstone. Topaz is commonly exposed to surface treatments because it is affordable to do so. It would not be the case otherwise.
I think affordability is one of the most overlooked qualities in colored stones. This is especially important from a practical standpoint. Allow me to me explain:
I also work as a wholesale colored stone dealer*. As a service, we often find replacement stones for clients’ damaged pieces. I’ve seen every type of colored stone chip or break, including rubies and sapphires which have excellent durability. It’s a sad reality in gemstones (Side note: Make sure you insure any high value jewelry). You can take precautions to protect your pieces, but if anything were to happen, it would be nice to replace your gem without too much trouble. This is where it’s nice to have an affordable gem.
Compared to other blue stones like Aquamarine or Blue Sapphire, high quality Blue Topaz comes at a fraction of the cost. Yes, jewelry is a luxury product and it is implied that gemstones are not cheap*, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could all comfortably enjoy our birthstone? The answer is yes, and we can with Topaz.
3) Perfect Cleavage:
Almost all Topaz is cut at a 15-degree angle against the cleavage plane. In simple terms, that means gem cutters fashion Topaz in a way where it’s not likely to break along it’s the cleavage plane. Experienced jewelry designers, such as Eve, also consider this and either design the piece with the cleavage of Topaz in mind, or don’t work with Topaz* all together.
From a gemological perspective, perfect cleavage is really cool***! Cleavage is a result of weaknesses in crystalline structure. Without going into the hard science, crystalline structure is advanced geometry that occurs naturally. I might be saying this because I’m a huge nerd*, but the idea of random molecules arranging themselves into repeating patterns that form beautiful prismatic crystals is mind-blowing. In the case of topaz, they also arrange themselves in such a way that there’s repeated weakness in one direction. Again, mind blowing!
In addition, Topaz is the only gem material that has perfect basal cleavage. It’s a unique characteristic that makes identifying Topaz crystals easy. Perfect basal cleavage is found in a few minerals such as Mica but they aren’t used jewelry. Bottom line, (mineralogical) cleavage is cool***.
Other Benefits of Topaz:
As mentioned before, I work with large volumes of gems on a daily basis. These are my observations of Topaz:
-Topaz has a distinct appearance that makes it stand out. The contrast between brilliance and extension areas is sharp. In combination with excellent clarity, Topaz’s interaction with light is unlike any of the other semiprecious gems. Its body color appears to pop out more.
-The color of high quality Swiss and London Blue Topaz is really special. Yes the color is fake*, but the same colors are very hard to find naturally. Aquamarine is the only gem that comes close, but good luck with finding an Aqua that comes anywhere near the price of Blue Topaz.
-Hardness of 8. Eve did mention this, but I would like to reiterate this point. Most household objects have a hardness of 7. Topaz is well outside that range, unlike most other semiprecious gems.
I hope you can embrace your November birthstone after all this. The goal of this was not to shamelessly promote a product that I may or may not carry*, but to spread the love of Topaz.
Thank you for your thoughtful addition to our conversation about the distinct lack of love felt for Topaz in this world, Rohan. We appreciate your contribution.
* Eve added boldness to highlight distinct facts about Rohan that should cause you to distrust him and further prove her points outlined here: https://www.originaleve.com/single-post/2017/10/22/November-Birthstone-Topaz-ugh
** This sounds super dangerous and unsafe. Nuclear Reactor? Fear.