The state of Minas Gerais in Brazil is famous as it produces 80% of Brazil’s gems and minerals. The most important of all is topaz, which is mined around Ouro Prêto in Minas Gerais. Most of the precious topaz and all of the pink topaz mined in Brazil is mined from an area less than 100 square miles around Ouro Prêto.
Topaz has been used for centuries in jewelry. Pure topaz is colorless, but the presence of various impurities impart it with various colors, such as yellow, brown, orange, beige, red and green. The color of topaz is relative to the proportion of water or fluorine in it. More the water content in the crystals, more yellow to brown the color; and more the fluorine content, more bluish or colorless the mineral. The most popular is its fiery orange yellow color.
The origin of the name topaz is supposed to be the Sanskrit word for fire – tapas – possibly because of its fiery orange yellow color. According to another theory, it got it name from the Red Sea’s Island of Topazos, where the Romans found a stone, which they called ‘Topaz’, but which later was found to be Peridot.
Exposure to heat or sunlight is known to cause it to change its color. Sunlight is known to bleach brown topaz, and yellow topaz turns to pink or purplish red on exposure to heat. Blue topaz is artificially created after being irradiated. Though it is assumed that all blue topaz is treated topaz, blue topaz has been found to occur naturally in Texas, and in the Ural Mountains in Russia. A brilliantly cut colorless topaz is often mistaken for a diamond. Topaz is known to occur in Minas Gerais, Brazil; Pakistan; San Diego, California; the Ural Mountains, Russia; Mexico; and the Thomas Range, Utah.
Topaz Mines in Minas Gerais, Brazil
The state of Minas Gerais in Brazil is famous as it produces 80% of Brazil’s gems and minerals. The most important of all is topaz, which is mined around Ouro Prêto in Minas Gerais. Most of the precious topaz and all of the pink topaz mined in Brazil is mined from an area less than 100 square miles around Ouro Prêto. The Antonio Pereira Mine is where the Imperial Topaz is mined. The Imperial Topaz is the red and pink topaz – so called because they were used in the jewelry of the 18th and 19th Century Russian Czarinas.
The imperial topaz mines are largely open air mines, and are said to be the last imperial topaz mines in the world, after the closure of the last Russian mines. The production of topaz at Minas Gerais is very less, but their prices have gone up tremendously since the closure of the Russian mines.
Topaz Mines in Pakistan
Pakistan is rich in a variety of minerals, and in the case of topaz, produces various colors, such as violet and pink, golden and champagne. In addition to other minerals, topaz in Pakistan is mined in the:
* Gilgit district – Gilgi , Hunza, and Shigar
* Baltistan Skardu Road, Baltistan district – Shengus, Stak Nala, and Tormiq Nala
* Shigar area near Skardu in Baltistan district – Childee, Kashmal, and Yuno
* Katlang in Mardan district, among others.
Pakistan does not produce the natural orange topaz, and the topaz coming out of the Gilgit area – which is generally golden and white – is treated to impart this color. The well-formed spectacular peachy pink and white topaz crystals are glassy clean.
Topaz Mines in the Ural Mountains, Russia
The Ural Mountains – from Karski Sea to the Pre-Caspian steppes – stretch out for more than two thousand kilometers! Since the 5th century AD, from the times of Herodotus, the Urals have been known to be a rich source of crystals and precious stones, but it gained renown in the 17th century when many rich deposits of minerals and precious stones, including topaz, was discovered.
The topaz found in Russia is comparatively much smaller than most of the topaz from other sources. The popularity, though, is due to its natural deep blue color.
The Blyumovskaya mine, which is also known as 50 Kop or 50 mine, is a rich source of topaz. So is the river Kamenka, located near Koshkar, a known deposit for topaz. Though not of a high quality, the Sanarka River is also a deposit for topaz.
Topaz Mines in Mexico
Mineral wealth of Mexico has played a big role in its recorded history. At one time, the most precious and expensive topaz in North America was mined from the famous topaz mine – the renowned Guererro Mine in Mexico. Small quantities of the extremely rare bright pinkish gold color topaz is known to have been mined here. This mine has been closed down for the last 50 years or so.
Topaz is also found in the state of San Luis Potosí, in Mexico. It is found in the cavities in rhyolitic volcanic rocks. Topaz found here is very pale pink to colorless, or sherry brown. Deeply colored stones found here are known to fade in sunlight.
The Sierra Gorda hills are rich in a number of minerals, including topaz. The mines in Querétaro are famous for the world-class opal, but topaz is also mined here.
Topaz Mines in Myanmar (Burma)
Myanmar is well known for producing nine different kinds of gems, and topaz is one of them. Extraordinary topaz specimens are found in Pantaw, in the Mogok valley of Mandalay, in Myanmar. Mogok has been blessed with a number of minerals, especially the world famous Rubies of Myanmar – formerly known as Burma. Topaz from the mines in Mogok has excellent crystal clarity, and high class gem quality.
Fine specimens of topaz that can be cut into fine gemstones are found in the Sakangyi and Barnardmyo areas of Mogok. Large colorless topaz, natural blue, sherry, and pink specimens are mined in this region. The natural colored blue and brown topaz fade under sunlight.
Topaz Mines in America
Thomas Range, Utah – a paradise for mineralogists – is famous for its topaz, among other minerals. The Thomas Range topaz is popular for its sherry colored crystals. Crudely shaped white topaz is mined in Amelia, Virginia; clear topaz at Devils Head and Pikes Peak, Colorado; large and deeply etched blue crystals at Topsham, Maine; small topaz crystals – in small miarolitic cavities in granite – at Baldface Mountain, New Hampshire; and pale blue topaz crystals in Mason County, Texas.