Tavalite and Mystic Fire topaz have coatings that give them an unnatural but attractive iridescence. Tavalite, which has a coating developed by Deposition Sciences Inc. (DSI), Santa Rosa, Calif., was introduced to the industry in Tucson in 1994 by Lee Pierce, then consumer products manager for DSI. Pierce is now founder of Tavalite Enterprises of Sonoma (TEOS), the exclusive worldwide distributor of Tavalite.
Mystic Fire topaz is produced by Azotic Coating Technology, Rochester, Minn.
There’s one distinct difference between Tavalite brand gemstones (which include topaz, cubic zirconia, and rock crystal spheres) and Mystic Fire topaz. According to their patents, Tavalite’s thin film coating coats all exterior surfaces, but the Mystic Fire topaz coating is allowed only on the pavilion or the crown—not both.
The easiest way to tell them apart is to look at the gems’ colors. “Tavalite brand gemstone products are known for their distinctive dichroic color patterns,” says Pierce. Blue Tavalite, for example, has a secondary color of either gold or red.
Mystic Fire topaz has been around for six or seven years but is just hitting its stride, says Ken Moghadam of M.P. Gem in Los Angeles, who got involved with this process about a year ago. “Mystic Fire topaz has recently achieved such momentum that it has caught everyone by surprise. Those who’ve been involved in the blue topaz jewelry business were among the first to embrace this stone, which can be processed in a variety of earthly, celestial, and oceanic living colors.”
The variety of colors Moghadam refers to resemble alexandrite, Burmese ruby, canary yellow diamond, Ceylon sapphire, padparadscha sapphire, pink sapphire, rubellite, andalusite, peridot, and opal.
According to Moghadam, Azotic is processing some half-million carats of topaz every month.
Because Mystic Fire topaz is coated on the pavilion, “we have advised all of our clients to tell their jewelers to handle this stone the same way as they would emeralds and pearls, avoiding acids, abrasives, and pickling solutions,” Moghadam says. “They should polish the jewelry before they set the stone.” He also recommends cleaning in an ultrasonic solution that contains Windex or Mr. Clean and has no residual pickling solution from previous cleanings.
“Since the coating is on the back side, channel and bezel settings are preferred,” he advises. On stones labeled Mystic Fire topaz, the crown is untreated, but for stones that have a checkerboard faceted crown, Azotic coats the crown and labels the stone “Nirvana topaz.”