A Guide to November’s birthstone: Topaz

If you have a birthday this month or know someone who is celebrating – or commiserating – getting a year older, jewellery featuring November's birthstone could be a great gift. 

This month's birthstone really is beautiful and is perfect for tying in your look with AW14. With a variety of shades and stunning variations in colour-depth, topaz is a really gorgeous choice for jewellery this November.

Topaz was originally used in ancient Egypt, with the Egyptians believing that the yellow varieties of the stone received their golden hue from the sun god, Ra. It is was believed that the yellow stone mined by the ancient Greeks on the island of Topazus in the Red Sea was topaz, which could explain the stone's name. However, there are several conflicting reports on the true history of the gem's name.

As well as having a varied past, topaz has a number of properties that set it apart from other stones. 

For starters it has a totally different level of hardness compared to gems like ruby, sapphire, diamond and zircon. It is a very hard gemstone, which means it is very durable; making it a great choice for jewellery.

It is often found in large, flawless crystals, which means it can be cut into beautiful gemstones of all sizes. This has resulted in many of the largest stones ever having been cut being topaz. 

One of the really lovely things about topaz is the fact it is a pleochroic gemstone, this means the intensity of the colour can change depending on the angle you look at it from. This means it can catch the eye easily, making it a great choice for statement pieces.

In terms of colour, most topaz is naturally colourless, although some shades do naturally occur. This means it can be used to create a number of different shades through the process of heat treating. This is the method most commonly used to create topaz with a strong blue colour, although light blue topaz does occur in nature.

There are two types of blue topaz, London and Swiss, with London being the deeper variety. Swiss topaz has a lovely light, sky blue colour that is great for more subtle jewellery.

You can also get natural topaz in an orangey-pink, golden yellow, orange-brown, multi-coloured or brownish-pink colour. A really interesting variation in terms of colour is rutilated topaz, which has inclusions of the mineral limonite, resulting in yellowish needle-like streaks of colour.

In terms of caring for topaz, its hard-wearing nature means it won't be damaged by most chemical solvents. However, it can chip if banged hard, or can develop flaws. This means you should aim to care for it as you would any gemstone; avoid damage by removing it when performing physical tasks and store it safely away.

Some topaz can also fade if left out in the sun for extended periods of time so it is best to store your jewellery safely in a box out of direct sunlight. This will ensure its colour remains strong and vibrant.  

You can find a beautiful range of topaz jewellery at The Jewellery Channel, so whether it is for yourself or someone else; there is always something to suit individual tastes. 

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