Blue topaz comes in basically three shades: Sky Blue, Swiss Blue and London or Denim Blue. There are some who also recognize a fourth blue called Super Sky Blue. All come from radiating the natural Clear or White Topaz. And then for those that have the available cash, there is a very rare natural Blue Topaz, which is very rarely seen. Forgetting the natural Blue Topaz, the lighter shades of blue have the lowest levels of radiation, while the London Blue takes at least 18 months for the radiation to drop to the safety standard set by the Nuclear Regulatory Committee (NRC). However, with time, even London Blue Topaz is quite safe. Nevertheless, an informal survey of several southern California jewelry chains and jewelry departments in major stores and visits to jewelry stores in Texas showed that while all the stores carried some Sky and Swiss Blue Topaz jewelry, only a couple carried any of the dark London Blue Topaz.. When asked about it, of the clerks who know about teh irradiation to color, most of the sales clerks would comment “You used to see that dark blue stuff all the time. Now no one has it.”
Clearly the decision to cease stocking London Blue Topaz came from outside the stores visited. If fact, the majority of salespeople had no idea what type of treatment had been used on the Topaz stones to make them blue, many thought all Blue Topaz was natural. What’s more, most were oblivious to the NRC regulations. Of the few salespeople who were aware of the NRC regulations, all but one erroneously believed the regulations stemmed from widespread problems with “dangerous levels of radiation.”
Given such confusion and ignorance about Blue Topaz among jewelry store staffers, it’s easy to see why people cite so many different reasons for the drop-off in sales of this lovely gem. Sadly, the decline didn’t have to happen if people in the jewelry industry would become familiar with processes and treatments associated with gemstones. Maybe the moral here is an old one: The jewelry industry has nothing to fear but fear itself.
In the mean time fear could spread. After all, Blue Topaz is not the only gemstone to be regularly irradiated. Yellow Beryl, Smoky Quartz, Pink Tourmaline, some colored Diamonds and others are also enhanced in this manner. If disclosure of this basic truth becomes as hard to swallow with other gems, London Blue Topaz could just be the first of many gem casualties in a market that lives in needless, somewhat hypocritical fear of the facts about the products it sells. So in the end, if you like Blue, the Blue Topaz gemstones are still a great favorite and wearing them hasn't shown to be of any problem. For those dealers who know and explain the facts to their customers about Blue Topaz, the problems have not kept anyone from purchasing them.