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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Topaz

This bi-color topaz is unique as it ranges from salmon to violet-pink in color.
Photo by Greg Polley. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10201-00
Locality Minas Gerais, Brazil
Weight 9.54 ct

Gift of Mr. Ziad H. Noshie in 2003.

Until the 1950s, topaz was known almost exclusively as a yellow to golden gemstone. The highly prized imperial topaz is an intense golden to reddish-orange color and is very rare. However, the routine radiation and heat treatment of lower-quality colorless, pale blue or yellow topaz, turns it shades of blue. Today, most jewelry buyers recognize topaz as an affordable blue gemstone. Although colorless topaz can be turned blue, the topaz that can be turned pink appears to only come from Brazil. Crystals that show a pink color with brown or orange modifiers have the best chance of turning pink with heat treatment. The gem must have enough chromium, a trace element that is the essential coloring agent, for what gem dealers call “pinking.” This beautiful bi-color topaz ranges from salmon to violet-pink in color and was gifted to the Smithsonian in 2003.


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