The different colors of topaz have their own unique subtleties for the value factors. Imperial colors, blue colors and yellow colors must be evaluated according to their own criteria.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
COLOR IS THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITY FACTOR FOR TOPAZ
Red is one of the most sought-after topaz colors and represents less than one-half of 1 percent of facet-grade material found. The color the trade calls imperial topaz is highly prized and very rare. Many dealers insist that a stone must show a reddish pleochroic color to be called imperial topaz.
CLARITY REFERS TO THE INCLUSIONS
Faceted blue topaz is almost always free of eye visible inclusions. Other more rare colors like imperial and pink may show inclusions more often and still be valuable due to the color’s rarity.
CUT IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS IN APPEARANCE
Topaz is cut in a wide variety of shapes and cutting styles. Production includes all the standard gem shapes such as ovals, pears, rounds, emerald cuts, cushion cuts, triangle cuts, and marquise shapes, as well as designer-inspired fantasy shapes.
CARAT WEIGHT ALLOWS FOR PRECISE MEASUREMENTS
Standard topaz cuts for the jewelry industry include a wide range of shapes, sizes and weights. Blue topaz rises very little in per carat price as the size increases. Imperial topaz on the other hand rises in per carat price dramatically as size increases.
TIPS & ADVICE
1. Think beyond blue.
Although blue topaz is the most common color you’ll see, thanks to a treatment that creates the color, topaz comes in beautiful pinks, reds, oranges, yellows and browns too.
2. Supply and prices are different for blue topaz and Imperial topaz.
Blue topaz and colorless topaz are very affordable and widely available. Red, pink and orange colors are rare and valuable. You’ll need to find a jeweler who has gemological knowledge and expertise to see fine qualities in these rarer colors.
3. Don’t confuse topaz and “topaz quartz” and “smoky topaz.”
When yellow citrine quartz was first discovered, miners called it “topaz quartz.” Topaz is usually more valuable than citrine in a similar color and also occurs in more saturated tones. Sometimes brown quartz is mistakenly called “smoky topaz.”
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q - How do I know if a topaz is “Imperial topaz”?
A - There is no official standard for imperial topaz. Some dealers use the term for colors that are orange to pink to red to purple, others reserve the term for certain saturated shades. It’s the color, not the term “Imperial” that gives topaz its value.
Q - Is pink topaz from Pakistan or Brazil more valuable?
A - Topaz with a vivid purplish pink is the most rare color of topaz: color is more important than country of origin in assessing quality.
Q - Does GIA grade topaz?
A - GIA doesn’t grade topaz. GIA Gemological Identification Reports identify and assess the characteristics of a mounted or loose topaz (weight, measurements, shape, cutting style and color) and indicate any detectable treatments.
Q - Is blue topaz radioactive?
A - National regulations around the world control the release of gems from irradiation facilities to ensure that it meets safety standards. In the United States, the standard for release and import of topaz is a small fraction of the background radiation that everyone is exposed to every day.