The name "topaz" is derived from the Greek Link opens new window topazos, "to seek," which was the name of an island Link opens new window in the Red Sea Link opens new window that was difficult to find and from which a yellow stone (now believed to be a yellowish olivine Link opens new window) was mined in ancient times. In the Middle Ages Link opens new window the name topaz was used to refer to any yellow gemstone.

Pure topaz is transparent but is usually tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine or straw-yellow Link opens new window. They may also be white Link opens new window, gray Link opens new window, green Link opens new window, blue Link opens new window, or reddish Link opens new window-yellow and transparent or translucent. When heated, yellow topaz often becomes reddish-pink Link opens new window. It can also be irradiated, turning the stone a light and distinctive shade of blue.






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