In many regions of the world and throughout history, precious and semi-precious gemstones were believed to hold mystical powers, imbuing strength and health on its owners. Gemstones represent astrological signs and planets in Western astrology, and the stones are associated with the animals of Chinese astrology. Gemstones symbolise various human qualities and emotions, including the intellect, love and purity.
Topaz is a popular and affordable gemstone. It forms from silicate minerals found in igneous rocks that, according to the Merriam-Webster Online, are formed by the solidification of magma from volcanoes. Topaz falls among the harder gemstones, and it is resistant to weathering and abrasion when in its natural environment; however as a gemstone, it breaks easily, making it somewhat fragile.
Natural topaz colouring ranges from light yellow to brown with some naturally occurring blue and pink varieties. The colour of some topaz stones changes with the application of heat. Yellow Brazilian topaz becomes pink with moderate applications of heat, and many contemporary pink stones have been heat-treated rather than naturally occurring. Another method to change a stone's colour is with irradiation. Clear topaz turns bright blue, resembling aquamarine stones, by irradiating the stone and then applying a heat treatment.
The name "topaz" comes from the Greek word "topazian." The history of topaz suggests two possible origins for the word. The first is that topaz was named for the Island of Topazos, an island in the Red Sea, where the gemstones were discovered and mined by the Romans; however, these gemstones were actually modern-day peridot. The second story indicates that the word came from the Sanskrit "tapas" meaning fire.
Yellow topaz represents the modern November birthstone. In Western astrological zodiac signs, the topaz aligns with Sagittarius and the planet Jupiter. In Chinese astrology, the topaz represents the Year of the Horse. In both Eastern and Western astrology, topaz stands for strength. The topaz also symbolises love and affection, and is the modern anniversary gift for the fourth and 19th wedding anniversaries. Its mystical qualities are believed to increase strength and intellect as well as balancing emotions and providing spiritual rejuvenation. Topaz is also ascribed healing powers to stimulate the endocrine system, heal tissue and fight blood disorders, according to all-that-gifts.com.
Some people frequently confuse citrine, a similar gemstone, with topaz because of its yellow to orange colouring. The name "citrine" comes from the French word "citron," meaning lemon and references the colour of citrine---lemon yellow. It is less rare than topaz. It also has mystical and healing properties symbolising lightheartedness and joy. Along with topaz, the citrine represents the November birthstone, and it is the modern anniversary gift for the 17th-wedding anniversary. Citrine is also the gemstone of writers, having the ability to increase creativity, according to "Gemstones" by Cally Hall.