Alert: Topaz with Unstable Color

Jeffery Bergman, a gemstone expert based in Thailand, has issued a warning for retailers and consumers to be aware of inexpensive topaz being sold with what he terms as a “color stability problem.”

“In the last few months we have seen a significant increase in the volume of orangey to reddish to pinkish brown precious topaz on the market in Thailand,” said Bergman in an email to members of the jewelry industry. “Some dealers represent these gems as Burmese, others Brazilian. In Chanthaburi they are available for as little as US$1/carat. Unfortunately there are already several Thai based dealers selling them to unsuspecting consumers on eBay with no disclosure of the color stability problem.”

Bergman continued: “I recently acquired three samples from a Chanthaburi dealer, one 18ct., one 22ct., and one 36ct. All exhibited a lovely classic strong orangey “sherry” color on the ends of the stone, and a medium slightly orangey brown in the belly. I do not yet know the origin of the color in these highly unstable gems, but upon exposure to direct sunlight for one day, they fade to near colorless.”

To illustrate his point, Bergman, founder of Primagem in Bangkok, a natural gemstones and jewelry dealer, included a photograph which shows two stones side-by-side. The first stone shows the color before its exposure to sunlight and the second shows the color after being exposed to sunlight. 

He concluded: “It is important these gems are not sold to unsuspecting consumers as this further erodes confidence in our already fragile industry.”