The golden topaz was believed to possess many virtues. A symbol of friendship, it was thought to calm anger and guard against envy. Its powers preserved the wearer from "spiritual heats" and "all manner of love excesses." This calming influence extended to inanimate objects as well: it was used to cool boiling water and to quench thirst. Despite such calming influences, however, it was a powerful aphrodisiac and was often used to treat sexual dysfunction.
Powdered and mixed with rosewater, topaz prevented bleeding; nosebleeds could be stopped by pressing a stone against the side of the nose. It was believed that madness could be cured by a dose of topaz and wine. As a guard against sorcery, topaz was worn, set in gold, on the left arm. It also was thought to cure cowardice, remove tumors, improve eyesight, aid digestion, and prevent sleepwalking. Mariners used the golden gem to provide light on moonless nights. November's natal stone was believed to bring to its wearer long life, beauty, and intelligence.
Topaz is the accepted birthstone for November. Blue topaz is the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 4th year; Imperial topaz for the 23rd year of marriage. Most people think of topaz as a transparent golden yellow gemstone. However, this gemstone occurs colorless as well as orange-yellow, red, honey-brown (dark sherry), light green, blue and pink.
The name topaz is derived from the Greek word meaning "to shine" and also implies "fire". Orange-red "Imperial" topaz and pink colors are rare and most valuable. The lore, magic and romance of topaz goes back many thousands of years. It holds the distinction of being the gemstone with the widest range of curative powers. The Greeks felt it gave them strength. In addition, it supposedly cooled tempers, restored sanity, cured asthma, relieved insomnia and even warded off sudden death. Topaz is said to make its wearer invisible in time of emergency. It proved the loyalty of associates by changing color in the presence of poison.
As part of the normal fashioning process, most brownish to sherry brown topaz are heated to produce a permanent pink color. Certain types of topaz are irradiated and heated to produce shades of blue. Topaz is found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and China.
Citrine is often used an alternative to topaz because it appears in many of the same colors as topaz. Unlike topaz, citrine is readily available and inexpensive even in large sizes.
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