Topaz on Quartz Crystal Mineral Specimen
HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Topaz, pronounced TOW-pazz, was recognized as a mineral species in the 1740s. Its name stems from the Greek topazos, referring to the Red Sea island of Topasos (now Zibirget), which is a former source of the mineral. Topaz is collected in Russia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and the United States (Colorado, Utah, California, Texas, Maine).
MINERALOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Topaz [basic aluminum fluorosilicate, Al2SiO4(F,OH)2] crystallizes in the orthorhombic system as stubby to medium-long prismatic crystals with pseudo-hexagonal cross sections and complex, multi-faced terminations. Its colors range from colorless, white, yellow, yellow-brown, and yellow-orange to pale hues of red, pink, green, orange, and blue. Topaz is transparent to translucent, has a very substantial Mohs hardness of 8.0, a vitreous luster, perfect cleavage in one direction, and a specific gravity of 3.4-3.6. Topaz occurs in granite pegmatites and in cavities in volcanic rhyolite.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: Topaz has been a popular gemstone since antiquity. The most familiar topaz gem colors are yellow-brown and yellow-orange; red and pink colors are more valuable, but very rare. Finely ground topaz is used as an abrasive in grinding compounds that require a specific degree of hardness. In medieval times, topaz was thought to endow one with intelligence and long life, while protecting against disease, poisons, and sorcery. Modern metaphysical practitioners believe that topaz enhances spiritual potential, increases intelligence and creativity, aids in meditation, and imparts wisdom and wealth.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: Topaz is collected for its range of pleasing colors, excellent transparency, and high degree of crystal development.
QUARTZ (var. ROCK CRYSTAL)
HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Rock crystal, which is common and occurs worldwide, has been collected since prehistory. Notable collecting localities are found in India, Brazil, Germany, Peru, Bolivia, Namibia, Russia, and the United States (Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Connecticut, Virginia).
MINERALOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Rock crystal is the transparent, colorless variety of macrocrystalline quartz [silicon dioxide, SiO2). The word “quartz” is believed to have originated with the Slavic kwardy, meaning “hard,” in allusion to its substantial hardness. It crystallizes in the hexagonal system and occurs mainly in hydrothermal veins, granite pegmatites, and as geode linings as short-to-long, horizontally striated, hexagonal, prismatic crystals with pyramidal terminations and distinctive, water-clear transparency. It has a Mohs hardness of 7.0, a conchoidal fracture, vitreous luster, and specific gravity of 2.65.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: Rock crystal has since antiquity been one of the most widely collected of all minerals. It has served as a gemstone and ornamental stone in many cultures. Until quartz was synthesized in the 1960s, rock crystal was vital to electronic frequency controls, filters, and timing devices. Modern metaphysical practitioners call rock crystal the “universal crystal” because of its numerous abilities to sharpen insight, enhance spiritual development, improve concentration, refine focus, and energize the mind.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: Rock crystal is widely collected for its brilliant transparency, superb hexagonal crystal development, and frequent occurrence on large plates and in geodes to make interesting display pieces.