The name topaz was derived from the Island of Topazos in
the Red Sea, which probably refers to Zeberged, ancient source for peridot.
But it is more likely that the name derives from the Sanskrit word "tapas"
meaning fire. The Egyptians believed that topaz was colored with the golden
glow of the sun god Ra. The ancient Greeks believed that it had the power to
increase one’s strength and make its wearer invisible in cases of emergency.
The Romans associated topaz with Jupiter, who is also the god of the sun.
In the 19th century, pink topaz was
discovered in Russia. The gemstone was so coveted that only the
Czar, his family, and those he gave it to were allowed
ownership. When worn as amulet, topaz was said to drive away
sadness and strengthen the intellect. Mounted in gold and hung
around the neck, it was believed to dispel bad charms. Reduced
to powder and put in wine, topaz was a cure for insomnia,
asthma, burns and hemorrhage. Topaz was also said to change its
color in the presence of poisoned food or drink. All these
mystical powers were believed to increase and decrease with the
phases of the moon. One of the most famous topaz gems is a giant
specimen set in the Portuguese Crown.