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December Birthstone: Blue Topaz
Topaz comes in many colors: blue, yellow, pink, brown, green and clear. Orange-red "Imperial" topaz is the rarest.

Topaz has a hardness of 8. As with all gems, protect topaz from scratches and sharp blows. Also avoid large temperature changes (don't leave topaz near a heater vent or in a hot car).

Do not clean topaz in a home ultrasonic cleaner. The best way to clean topaz is warm soapy water. Clear topaz is commonly irradiated and heat treated to become blue. Yellow and brown topaz is often heat treated to become pink topaz, since natural pink topaz is extremely rare.

Reputable dealers will not use the following misleading terms: "Bohemian Topaz", "Madeira Topaz" and "Occidental topaz" are really yellow quartz (also known as citrine). "Nevada topaz" is really smoky obsidian. "Spanish topaz" is really orange-brown quartz. Topaz is found in Africa, Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Russia, and USA (Colorado, Maine and Utah).

(This article written by Mike McGinnis and published originally on indiasilver.com. We encourage republication but stipulate the piece be copied in its entirety with links and attribution.)

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Updated 2/17/06
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