Topaz: The Birthstone of November

The birthstone of people born in November is topaz. It comes in a vast array of colours from yellows and oranges, pinks, reds and purples, greens, blues and colourless. The blue variety of topaz is the birthstone of December. Despite the blue variety being commonplace in jewellery it is actually quite rare, and is usually the result of treatment to colourless crystal which is abundant in nature. The most prized “imperial topaz” is orange with pink undertones. The name “imperial” originated in the 19th century honouring the Russian czar. At the time, ownership of the gemstone was restricted to the royal family.

The November birthstone displays pleochroism – an optical phenomenon whereby the crystal displays different types of colour from different crystal directions. This trait is particularly useful for identifying the stone, as the number of colours visible helps to distinguish the crystalline structure of an unknown gemstone.

The high polish of faceted topaz makes it quite slippery to touch. The crystals are usually columnar, cut as pear or oval shapes to improve yield.

Some of the largest crystals in the world are topaz. It is one of the few gemstones that are measured in kilograms as opposed to carats. One of the largest topaz gemstones was found in Minas Gerais, Brazil. It weighed an astonishing 271 kg. To put this in perspective, this equates to 1,355,000 carats. Brazil is one of the largest producers of the gemstone worldwide.

The November birthstone symbolises faithfulness, friendship and consistency. It is believed that it possess healing properties for those who wear it.

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