Monday, November 2, 2020

History of the Topaz: November's Birthstone


Amber Schamel Christian author

Here we are in November already. Most the leaves have gone, at least in Colorado, and we are watching the beautiful 'grand finale' of autumn as it fades into winter. What stone better represents this autumnal hue than the topaz?

Actually, November has two birthstones; the topaz and the citrine quartz. But for the purposes of this post, we are going to study the topaz.

The topaz stone has fascinated me for many years because of its color, and I included it as an icon in my biblical fiction series, Days of Messiah. (You can download and read the story that features the stone most prominently for free by subscribing to my newsletter by using the link at the bottom of the page.)

The origin of topaz is clouded, because until modern mineralogy was developed, the topaz was often mistaken for peridot, or vice versa. Most authorities agree that the word Topaz came from the Greek name of an island in the Red Sea, Topazios. However this was an island that produced peridot, not topaz...but, with the common confusion between the stones, it makes sense. The other theory traces the topaz to an Indian word "tapaz" or "topas" meaning "fire". 

Yellow Topaz
CC - Pithecanthropus4152

In Greece, topaz was attributed with the power to endow strength on the wearer. Similarly, in Rome, they believed it protected anyone who wore it from danger while traveling. In Europe, the stone could dispel anger, and break curses or evil spells. In England, it was sworn to cure lunacy. Those in India believed if it was worn near the heart, it would grant longevity, beauty and intellect to its wearer.

Still other cultures associated topaz with wealth, perhaps due to its yellow color, and some went so far as to say that it attracted gold.

Russia prized the Imperial Topaz, which originated in the nineteenth century when the stone began to be mined in the Ural Mountains. The Russians restricted ownership of this gem to the royal family. 

John VI of Portugal
While topaz is mentioned several times in the Biblical text, it is disputed whether the stone mentioned was actually topaz, or peridot. Most scholars conclude that it was more likely peridot. 

In 1740 Brazil, a gigantic diamond was discovered, weighing in at 1,680 carats. The gem was proudly placed in the Portuguese crown as the largest diamond ever discovered. However it was soon exposed as a colorless topaz, rather than a diamond. Otherwise known as the  'Braganza Diamond", the topaz disappeared around 1826 after the death of King John VI, however, it is the most famous topaz in all of history. 

Both the rich color and history of this gemstone make it one all November birthdays can be proud of. 


Two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  

She lives in Colorado Springs near her favorite mountain and between enjoying life as a new mom, and spinning stories out of soap bubbles, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples.

Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!


  1. Thanks for the post! Topaz is indeed a beautiful stone. I have really enjoyed this series on birthstones.

    1. Thanks for following the series, Connie! I'm so happy to hear that you are enjoying it.