Back to IGS | FAQ | Contact

Precious Topaz or Imperial Topaz? How do I classify these two?

Hey guys, I’ve been very confused about Precious Topaz and Imperial Topaz.
(1) Are they the same?

I see some online gemstone shops classify their yellow color topaz (regardless light or saturated yellow) as “Precious Topaz” while other shops classify them as Imperial Topaz. So:
(2) Right now it is for retailers to classify one yellow color topaz to be precious or imperial?

We know SKY, SWISS, LONDON blue topaz are inexpensive because all three are clear-topaz-radiated to blue. However:
(3) Is a natural untreated blue topaz rare an expensive ? What is. natural blue topaz’s price range?

1 Like

Hi Leon you might like to have a look at this website to give you some understanding of Topaz colours and what is deemed as Imperial Topaz

3 Likes

Yellow topaz is not Imperial Topaz…without getting too technical, Imperial Topaz
is defined in the Gemworld Guide as a saturated orangy pink to pink color.

As far as natural blue topaz, you will see it for sale at a premium compared to
irradiated and heated blue topaz, but I don’t see any authorities stating a
premium price for it. The biggest problem with it is establishing provenance…
usually one sees stones which are too pale to be treated and assumes it to
be natural, but if you are paying a premium price for this, I would assume you
would have to have an established provenance. It mainly comes from Texas,
but I think is also found in Nigeria. I personally would not pay a premium for it.
It’s not that rare and there just isn’t much demand for it outside of Texas, where
locals buy it cut in the Lone Star Cut. -royjohn

2 Likes

I believe that the term ‘precious Topaz’ came about as a result of the practice of calling citrine or smoky Citrine quartz “Topaz”, and was initiated as a way to further separate them in the public’s eye.

Imperial topaz has a definite red to pinkish red color. Orange-red tones are considered imperial topaz as well. The thing I’ve noticed lately coming from, not so reputable dealers, is coated topaz that they are calling imperial and charging the higher price pion for those stones. I recently had the opportunity to tell a customer that she had a coated clear topaz. She did not believe her jeweler would sell her this and informing her that it was an untreated stone.
I live in a small community and this is one of the biggest jewelers in the area. I would love to see what else he is selling but he has asked that I kindly not darken his door again. I guess he did not like the fact that I’ve found a few of his fakes and let him know it. It’s people like that that give us a bad name.
Otter

2 Likes

Thank you so much! Such a very useful link.

Thanks Otter. Coated topaz sounds horrible, isn’t that easy to tell the topaz is coated? I guess the color would look very stiff.
What happens is wether big cities or small towns, people in general have a jeweller to trust, I used to and I still do, because we expect to get better concepts from the jewelers so we can always get the best deal. Although we do not need a jewelers, study on ones own can be difficult and time consuming. Too bad we all trust our jewelers, most are nice, but she’s just the unlucky girl. I how they find out soon. LOL

Good point, dward, I heard about before sometime last century, people still calling yellow color gemstone a topaz, for instance, “citrine” you mentioned.

So can “Yellow color Topaz” be called “Precious Topaz?”

All coated topaz I’ve seen has been clearly identified by using the term “Mystic” in its name, following by some other word trying to indicate color, sort of. I don’t know why mystic topaz is all the rage these past few years, nor why it usually is much higher-prized than ‘regular’ topaz (be it irradiated or heated). I guess it’s all in public perception and what they’re willing to pay for.

Hey Roy, Thanks for your good points of view. I I totally agree with your 2nd half. I paid my so called “natural untreated blue topaz” $25/carat from a supplier in Tucson, says the origins from Namibia. I actually feel okay to paying $25 per carat for a eye clean, large, well, faceted untreated blue topaz, but I do have some doubt in my mind every time the supplier keeps telling me how rare a yellow color topaz is he sourced from West Africa, and it is $250/carat. It is sponge bob’s kind of yellow, good saturation but hue varies depending on the environments, can be seen as grass green mixed under the sunlight, or “partially” become yellow-gold (like citrine) color in the shade. For the provenance, it is always just saying but no real proof of origin. So…I guess yellow topaz’s real value remains a mystery here again.

I agree that yellow topaz is not imperial topaz. But what is Precious topaz? Because I do see orange pink, greyish-pink, brown or brown-pinkish are sold as “precious topaz” while yellow color topaz is sold as the name of Imperial. The price for precious topaz is a lot lower than Imperial topaz, but still much higher than untreated blue topaz from somewhere in Namibia. So that’s why my question #1 is I need to understand what is precious topaz and is it just less qualified imperial topaz’s secondary name?

Hello Leon,
If I were you, I would worry less about the names and more about the actual color and clarity of the stone. According to Webster (Gems), the term “precious topaz” was used to distinguish real topaz from citrine, which was called Scotch topaz and other names with topaz and adjectives. To me, it does not make sense to call treated blue topaz precious, either, so I would reserve the name for shades of yellow, orange, red and pink. However, it’s much more important to know what actual color in that range you are discussing. Yellow topaz of good color and clarity (say grade 8) of three carats goes at about $300/ct or so, while Imperial of the same grade and size would cost four times that price and pink topaz yet another ten percent or so more. Those are memo prices from the Gemworld Guide, so your price at the dealers might be 25% below that or so. I have not heard of a color shift yellow topaz such as you describe and you could perhaps consider that to be worth somewhat more than yellow that does not shift.

In professional gemology, we don’t use funky names, just the correct ones out of gemology texts and price guides. When people throw around these incorrect terms, they are either uneducated or they are trying to hoo-doo you. Just look at the stone itself or get a decent picture on a pure white background to judge. If you are seriously into buying and selling, it would make sense at some point to get some price guide…either GemEWizard or the Gemworld Guide with the World of Color reference books or a subscription to gemval.com or something. This way you are grading based on color, clarity, cut and weight as precisely as you can. Then you also need to keep abreast of the market, because the guides may not give prices for your particular market and they can be off somewhat. In the end, stones are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. -royjohn

2 Likes

Hello royjohn,
I just read your reply, you have answered all I wanted to know and all I will need to be considering when evaluating variety of this papular species - TOPAZ. I understand there is no need to focus on the name of the stones, yet often it is the most confusing part like you said for those incorrect names or terms are most likely exaggeration. I do not have gemology background, am not be able to get professional advice can be frustrated sometimes. Due to the nature of gemstone business, I always feel this is an information restrict community, and it is not easy to get correct answers from the internet search. So, thank you so much for the words. I wish to obtain some decent photos of the gem and share with you later. Thank you again royjohn. Take care. -Leon

Hello Leon,
Glad to be able to help…gemology info is all over the web and there are several good books…elementary gemology and gem ID is covered well in Matlins’ book, Gem Identification Made Easy. A few cheap instruments will help a great deal…after you get dichroscope, etc., about $100 will get you a refractometer and you will be all set for most ID. However, you will still need some price references. If you cannot afford any of the price guides, you must do a lot of internet research at the very least. You will be offered stones at all kinds of prices and need to be able to sort out the swindles from the good deals. There is no information restriction, just a lot of people who are too busy to help and others who don’t know anything or, worse, put out incorrect info. Gemology is really not all that difficult. The Matlins book and then the Hannemann book and a good look at the gemstone magnetism page. Then look around the internet for collections of photos of inclusions and when a little further along, spend a few hundred on a good stereo microscope and you are in great shape. Just be careful, because without a knowledge base, you can easily be cheated. -royjohn

@royjohn Hi, I was wondering which is more accurate, the gem world price guide (Pricing & Editions - Gemworld International) or the gemEprice application (https://www.gemewizard.com/gemeprice/index.php)?

I have the gemEprice software subscription because it also helps me color grade my gemstones. It also gives prices for the gemstones for various grades etc and treatments. I was wondering if you knew which was most accurate on pricing?

Thanks,

Daniel

Hi Daniel,
That’s a very good question…I have several friends who are precision cutters here in the US and they use the Gemworld system and like it…and I do, too. I think both Gemworld and gemEprice use a group of expert consultants to set prices and I would assume that both are similar. IDK what type of price gemEprice uses…Gemworld uses a “memo” price, which just means that it is the price you would be quoted by a supplier if you wanted a particular stone sent out for trial (on credit or on “memo”). This is a high side price, since you are in a spot where you need a stone. My friends tell me that in practice this price is about 20-30% too high if you are selling. My guess is that the relative prices of the two systems are pretty close.

The best I could do for you would be to send you one of my printed price guides from Gemworld. You could compare the prices of the two systems. Gemworld uses a grade from 1-10 and has a grid that specifies which colors are which grade. Then deductions are taken off the color grade depending on the clarity and cut. I assume that the Eprice system is similar.

I think the systems are helpful, but that you really still have to compare what prices the system gives you with what you are seeing in the real world markets. I find that color change gems are not rated much in the Gemworld system, but some of my cutter friends tell me that they are sought after in the real world. There are probably other anomalies that the standard pricing systems don’t address or get somewhat wrong.

Hope this is somewhat helpful. I just don’t know anyone locally who uses the Eprice system, so can’t answer your question directly. -royjohn

Hi Darcy,

A lot of sellers do use “Mystic” to describe coated topaz. I think you are right that “perception” is important. Some customers see the color of the stone change as they move it under a light and they love that look.

There are some items for sale for which the seller does not use the word “mystic” or, more important, disclose that the stone has been “coated” or “treated”. They might not be trying to deceive buyers.
They just don’t know what they are selling and the proper disclosures that should be given to customers.

Most topaz with an outrageous color, an outrageous optical effect (such as iridescence), or a luster that appears “metallic” has been coated.

However, I have seen some pink, some yellow, and some blue that is more subtle. Sometimes, by examination of the facet edges, you can find a place where the coating is missing, and that will confirm the presence of a coating.

1 Like

Hi Hobart,

I have seen some Mystic topaz that is quite nice to look at. Sometimes the play of color can be really amazing. However, I don’t think the mystic coating justifies such high prices.

As with all the AB (Aurora Borealis) treatments on beads, mostly glass, that coating gets quite uneven over time or flakes off. For that reason alone, I doubt I’ll ever buy Mystic topaz. I’ll stick with natural play of color in opal or color change in fluorite or color shift in garnet … when I can afford it! :grinning: