Topaz was most likely named from the Sanskrit word “topas”, meaning fire. The ancient Greeks thought topaz gave them strength and, in later centuries, topaz was credited with the power to overcome evil magic. For centuries, the people in India have believed that when topaz is worn above the heart it assures long life, beauty, and intelligence.
For most of history, all yellow gems were called topaz. It wasn’t until the 1700s that scientific advances allowed for the testing of chemical properties of gemstones, allowing scientists to distinguish topaz from other yellow gemstones. Today topaz is found in a variety of colors including brown, saturations of blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, and colorless.
Topaz is frequently treated for color enhancement. Treatments include irradiation and/or surface coatings. Because these treatments are not permanent, special care is required in the cleaning of these gemstones. Because heat can remove the coating, never ultrasonic or steam clean these pieces.