Topaz is a gem that has a long history of being associated with the sun. This is because the colors of a sunrise or sunset are captured in this gem. Egyptians thought that wearing an amulet or pendant of topaz provided protection by the sun god Ra to the wearer. The Romans associated topaz with the sun god Jupiter, and felt that topaz was a powerful bringer of good fortune and positive events.
Many cultures historically believed that wearing topaz allows you to be clear of vision and thought, and to be able to ward off evil spells or enchantments. Historically it was also believed to give the wearer almost super-human strengths and abilities when in emergency or crisis situations. In ancient times many nobles wore topaz, as it was believe to change color when in the presence of poison. They often wore it in rings and placed their hands over their food or drink to see if it had been meddled with. Topaz was also thought to gain strength with the phases of the moon, and thought to cure some diseases and conditions such as insomnia, respiratory problems and some blood disorders.
In more modern tradition, topaz is the birthstone for those born in the month of November. While a very hard stone, it can be split fairly easily if hit at the right angle.
Topaz naturally comes in many different colors. The most recognized color of topaz is an amber or gold color, with highlights of peach, tans, browns or shades of orange. A cognac color of topaz is slightly darker than the amber shade, and tends to have more of the brown highlights.
The largest topaz is the Braganza topaz. It is found in set in the Portuguese Crown, and was originally thought to be a large diamond. This topaz, while called white topaz, is really colorless and is the most common type, found in China, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Nigeria and India.
Pink topaz occurs naturally in Pakistan and Russia, and is occasionally found in other locations. Pink topaz is usually pale pink; anything that is described as "hot pink" or "bright pink" is artificially treated or heated to produce the enhanced color. Heating some shades of pink topaz will remove the orange color and will leave a lavender colored gem.
Brown, red, dark pink, yellow, orange and sherry colored topaz are found naturally in Brazil and Sri Lanka. Heating and enhancing of these different naturally occurring colors can lead to a wide variety of darker shades and truly unique colors.
Pale topaz can be irradiated in a lab to create a blue topaz. The color of this gem is very pale to medium blue, and is not a dark blue color. The pale topaz needed to make a blue topaz is found in Sri Lanka, China, Brazil and Nigeria.
In 1998, gemologists began surface-enhancing pale topaz to create a green topaz. This topaz ranges in color from a leaf green to an emerald green. Again, this is not a naturally occurring gem and requires surface-enhancement to produce the color.