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Imperial Topaz Information, Facts, Online Buying Tips

Updated on December 23, 2013

What is Imperial Topaz?

Imperial topaz is a special variety of topaz mined mostly in parts of Brazil, especially in the region of Ouro Preto. It is said to have earned its moniker due to its popularity among Russian royalty back to the 19th century, when Ural Mountain mines were an important source.

In the early days topaz was the only gem of importance found near Ouro Preto. The gemstone was frequently referred to as “imperial” topaz to honor Brazilian royalty. It was later called “precious” topaz by some. The words “imperial” and “precious” topaz are often used to distinguish between true topaz and other look-alikes, so although originally referred to the special kind mined in Brazil, today imperial topaz could also mean beautiful natural topaz.

Imperial Topaz Colors

Imperial topaz includes an array of different topaz colors such as yellow-golden, pink, or pink-orange. Most on the market today are made from brown topaz that is treated, and often come out lighter than natural stones. The common Brazilian Imperial topaz can often have a bright yellow to deep golden brown hue, sometimes even violet. The Ouro Preto mines contain mainly of orange and pink topaz. Light purple topaz is also found there. The orange stone looks a lot like citrine, another common gem made from amethyst by a special heating process, some call citrine the "golden topaz", which is really misleading. The two can be identified easily by gemologists base on the hardness, of which topaz is numbered 8 on hardness scale while citrine is less. Unfortunately, some light shades of imperial topaz seem to lose their color if exposed to sunlight for a long time. Therefore, they should stay away from sunny windows and should be taken off when the sun is too bright.

Sometimes citrine and smoky quartz are sold as “golden topaz” and “smoky topaz.” So the word “imperial” along with “precious” are also used to distinguish between true topaz and other look-alikes. When the color is sherry red, deep pink and reddish-orange, the material is classified as Imperial Topaz by most Gemologist.

Imperial topaz is the most sought after in all natural topazes. Its rich golden color is generally not enhanced by any kind of treatment. The most important source was found in Minas Gerais, Brazil imperial topaz with the fiery reddish orange color is usually hard to find; golden to peach colored precious topaz, is sometimes available. Peach hued prisms can be placed in ovens and heated to change a fraction of the gem to pink. This color change is permanent with at the risk of fracturing the stones.

Today, the gem world generally uses the term "imperial" for pink, orange and red topaz that comes mainly from Ouro Prêto. Pink topaz can also be found in the Katlang area of Pakistan.

Imperial topaz is usually a red-orange color, but pink, red, and purple varieties are also common.
Imperial topaz is usually a red-orange color, but pink, red, and purple varieties are also common.

Price Ranges

Compare to other common topazes, imperial topaz obviously has much higher prices, and may cost over $3000 per carat at retail. They should be inspected carefully before purchase. A common “replacement” for topazes is the quart stones. The pink variety looks a lot like the topaz of the same shade, and sometimes quarts are treated to copy natural imperial topaz. Citrine quartz is said to be “orange topaz”, so you need to pay special attention when you see a jewelry labeled as "orange topaz". The difference between quartz and topaz lies in the clearness of the stone. Quartz tends to be cloudy and lighter, while the other is shiny, heavier, and transparent.

Purchasing one of these fabulous stones is a process that requires research, attention to detail, and careful planning.

Buying Imperial Topaz Jewelry Online

Since imperial topaz is quite expensive, you should always exercise your
caution when you purchase a piece of jewelry, especially when buying
online. Reputable jewelry stores don't sell fake or created imperial
topaz as natural, they either don't sell or will state as "created".
bluenile.com, for example, does not currently sell any imperial topaz
jewelry; finejewelers.com has only 4 created imperial jewelry pieces.
Needless to say Amazon and ebay always have everything imaginable,
there's no exception for imperial topazes. As of this writing, amazon
had only 15 imperial topaz jewelry items, out of which only about 6 was
listed as natural, others are either simulated or non-imperial. From the
limited number, I personally feel safer to buy on amazon, but I would
still recommend to do thorough investigation before making the purchase.
I consider ebay a messy place for fine jewelry, if you take a look at
the listings on the right side, you can see some big size (could be
above 30 carats) unheated AAA imperial topaz stones are listed for only
less than $20. Considering over $3,000 per carat for real natural
imperial topaz stone, would you buy from those sellers? I wouldn't for
sure. They may be just some well treated quartz, that's all. So be
careful when you invest in such valuable gemstones. Remember, always go
with reputable jewelers, and use your knowledge and judgment, plus it
never hurts to own a guide book about precious stones.

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