Topaz (Molecule of the Month for March 1997)
The Egyptians said that topaz was colored with the golden glow of the mighty sun god Ra. This made topaz a very powerful amulet that protected the faithful against harm. The Romans associated topaz with Jupiter, who also is the god of the sun. Topaz sometimes has the amber gold of fine cognac or the blush of a peach and all the beautiful warm browns and oranges in between. Some rare and exceptional topaz are pale pink to a sherry red.
Wear topaz only if you wish to be clear-sighted: legend has it that it dispels all enchantment and helps to improve eyesight as well! The ancient Greeks believed that it had the power to increase strength and make its wearer invisible in times of emergency. Topaz was also said to change color in the presence of poisoned food or drink. Its mystical curative powers waxed and waned with the phases of the moon: it was said to cure insomnia, asthma, and hemorrhages.
Perhaps the most famous topaz is a giant specimen set in the Portuguese Crown, the Braganza, which was fist thought to be a diamond. There is also a beautiful topaz set in the Green Vault in Dresden, one of the world's important gem collections.
Brown, yellow, orange, sherry, red and pink topaz is found in Brazil and Sri Lanka. Pink topaz is found in Pakistan and Russia.
Today we also have blue topaz, which has a pale to medium blue color created by irradiation. Pale topaz which is enhanced to become blue is found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and China.
Topaz is a very hard gemstone but it can be split with a single blow, a trait it shares with diamond. As a result it should be protected from hard knocks.
Topaz is the birthstone for those born in the month of November
Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for March 1997 )