With their sparkle, shine, and dainty allure, white topaz and diamonds bear an abundance of aesthetic similarities. The higher up-front cost of diamonds can be hard to justify even with the added quality, timelessness, and value retention. Conversely, the value in white topaz can be difficult to discern amidst all the cheaper faux diamonds in the market.
Diamonds have a greater sparkle and shine; they are perfect for an extra special, delicate moments. Conversely, white topaz has greater versatility and ease of replacement – perfect for trend-hopping and carefree everyday wear. From a usability standpoint, the value from white topaz to diamond varies greatly from the intended use.
Regardless of the financial investment, finding the perfect stone can still be a hefty investment of time. Finding jewelry that makes you feel and look your best is neither an easy nor a rapid pursuit. To assist your endeavors, I’m going to walk through the differences between the two, highlighting appearance and value over time.
- What is a White Topaz?
- What is a Diamond?
- What Are The Differences Between White Topaz Stones And Diamonds?
- Can you tell the difference between a white topaz stone and a diamond?
- What is the cost of white topaz stones vs diamonds?
- Pros & Cons Of White Topaz & Diamonds
- Should You Buy White Topaz Or Diamonds?
What is a White Topaz?
White topaz is a natural silicate mineral gemstone comprised of aluminum and fluorine. When magma cools to form igneous rocks, topaz crystalizes in the cracks and crevices. Topaz can also form when hot, naturally occurring groundwaters circulate fluorine through the fractures of preexisting igneous rocks.
Due to added minerals, impurities, and structural differences, topaz exists in many different colors; white is the most common. The origins are debatable, but the name topaz is thought to come from a Mediterranean island – formerly known as Topazios. The island, now known as Zabargad Island, was rich in a green stone mistaken for topaz and later declared peridot.
Currently, white topaz is mined in various geographic regions, including the United States, Middle East, and South America. Brazil is a leading supplier of white topaz – containing some of the largest deposits in the world.
Unlike the name suggests, white topaz is a clear and colorless gemstone that resembles a diamond. The resemblance is so similar that in the late 1700s, the Portuguese government thought they found the world’s largest diamond. After they officially declared a large white topaz to be a diamond, they sent it off to live with royalty.
The quartz declared diamond adopted the moniker Braganza Diamond and has since disappeared — lost to this day. Nonetheless, topaz lived on to be a high-value stone and made a wildly popular debut in luxury jewelry. Topaz maintained a very high value until the discovery of Brazil’s large deposits, diminishing the rare charm they once had.
Today, topaz is commonly used in jewelry and white topaz is still one of the closest resemblances to a diamond. While the relative market value has changed throughout time, their objective versatility, sparkle, and beauty have stayed consistent.
In summary, white topaz is a naturally occurring gemstone that has aesthetic value beyond its purpose as a faux diamond.
What is a Diamond?
Diamonds are the element carbon in a solid, crystalized state. The same carbon as the carbon in carbon dioxide lives deeply beneath the Earth’s surface in homes known as deposits. When the carbon deposits experience high temperature and pressure conditions, the atoms bond, crystalize, and metamorphosize into diamonds.
There’s no specific timeline, or general time estimate, for the process of carbon atoms coming together to form diamonds. Diamond formation can take days, weeks, minutes, and — with enough change in atmospheric conditions during formation millions of years.
Diamonds were around before the dinosaurs and just about everything else on the present Earth — including most plants and animals.
So how does pressurized carbon in a deposit deep below the Earth end up in stores and on human hands? There are a handful of events that can cause ideal atmospheric conditions necessary for diamond formation.
However, the commercial stones in the center of engagement rings are formed in the upper mantle, hundreds of miles below the surface.
The upper mantle and the diamonds formed there are not inherently accessible. Diamonds must come to the Earth’s surface via deep-source volcanic eruption. Volcanic eruptions bring diamonds to the Earth’s crust, into jewelry stores, and onto social media.
Similar to white topaz, diamonds are minerals that can be found within igneous rocks. Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance; diamonds can only be scratched by other diamonds.
Fake diamonds can be grown in labs by applying high temperature and pressure to pure carbon. Though they are similar in appearance and essentially have the same chemical structure, naturally occurring diamonds contain trace elements. Naturally occurring diamonds have greater value than lab grown diamonds because the limited supply and inclusions.
By definition, diamonds are pure carbon crystalized via atmospheric conditions, however, the natural formation generates irreplicable authentic value.
What Are The Differences Between White Topaz Stones And Diamonds?
Scientifically, diamonds are the crystalized form of a single element while topaz are the crystalized form of multiple elements. Diamonds require much stricter atmospheric conditions for formation than white topaz. Since white topaz forms easier than diamonds, it is much more common and much less expensive.
White topaz is significantly more sensitive to atmospheric conditions, making it much less durable. High heat such as steam can cause internal breaks and damage white topaz. Diamonds are much more heat resistant; it would take over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to burn a diamond.
Diamonds are virtually indestructible in day-to-day life.
As aforementioned, diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance: how does white topaz compare? On the Mohs hardness scale, diamonds are a 10 while white topaz is an 8. 10 may not seem too different from 8, but the scale is not linear.
Diamonds are 7.5 times harder than white topaz, making them significantly more durable.
An important aesthetic difference between white topaz and diamond is the refractive index – aka the sparkle. Though it may seem subjective, the sparklines of a gemstone is the speed at which the gem can refract light. Diamonds can refract light about 150% faster than white topaz, making them about 1.5 times more sparkly.
The refractory index or the rate at which the gemstones refract light is also directly related to brightness. A stone that is able to refract light faster is going to appear much brighter. Therefore, diamonds can also appear about 1.5 times brighter than white topaz.
White topaz requires a greater amount of care to maintain its sparkle, brightness, and overall condition. Diamonds’ natural durability gives it virtual immunity to external forces and potential human recklessness. In other words, white topaz requires a greater effort to upkeep.
Over time, diamonds retain their value while the wear of white topaz becomes more and more apparent both aesthetically and financially.
Can you tell the difference between a white topaz stone and a diamond?
Though diamonds are brighter and sparklier, the two were similar enough to trick the Portuguese government in the 1800s.
Without thorough knowledge and evaluation, it’s easy to be tricked by visual similarities. Conversely, this means others are also easily tricked by the visual similarities and likely won’t be able to spot the difference.
While they may visually differ by their clarity and ability to refract light, they’re still indistinguishable to the common eye.
However, as time goes on, white topaz accumulates visible wear and tear; diamonds theoretically can, but likely will not. The differences between white topaz and diamonds becomes more apparent as they age. Unless you’re rubbing diamonds together, diamonds do not scratch; white topaz scratches fairly easily.
Additionally, as time goes on, the brilliance of white topaz fades. White topaz gets less sparkly with time while diamonds are able to hold their sparkle.
Since white topaz is more prone to breakages, the clarity of the stone significantly diminishes. This goes hand in hand with the decreasing brilliance, making white topaz appear duller and duller with age.
The differences between white topaz and diamond may not be clear initially, but as time goes on, they visually drift apart.
What is the cost of white topaz stones vs diamonds?
Per carat, a diamond can cost over $10000 while white topaz tends to range from $50-$100. The clarity of the stone plays a great role in the value. Natural impurities and inclusions can lower the cost of both white topaz and diamonds.
Since diamonds are significantly more durable and therefore maintain clarity over time, they also better retain value overtime. Since white topaz is significantly less durable, the accrued flaws and decreased clarity make them less valuable over time. For diamonds, the up-front, per carat cost can be 100 times greater yet the value can redeem itself in the future.
Mineral value isn’t the only reason for their stark price difference. Since diamonds are more durable, the surrounding jewelry components are going to be higher quality as well. A ring with a diamond in the center is going to have a more expensive base material than a ring with topaz in the center.
For both stones the purity and clarity plays a great factor in the price. Diamonds, by nature, are more likely to be clearer and purer, which accounts for average price discrepancy. Since diamonds are scarcer; their strenuous retrieval costs can also increase their price relative to white topaz.
In other words, there are other reasons why diamonds are 100 times more per carat. The significantly lower cost of white topaz doesn’t mean the stone itself is inherently 100 times lower quality.
Pros & Cons Of White Topaz & Diamonds
Diamonds may have a high up-front cost but their ability to retain value sets them apart from white topaz. White topaz are aesthetically similar to diamonds but their beauty fades faster.
Nonetheless, the abundance of white topaz makes them easier to find, replace, and a better fit for carefree wear.
Advantages Of White Topaz
Trends are constantly coming and going. While no one can catch them all, it’s fun to catch some. White topaz can be a great cost-effective way to participate in trends.
The ease of usability and access also make white topaz the perfect candidate for less mainstream, more authentic jewelry designs. With lessened fear and loss aversion, white topaz gives jewelry designers more creative freedom. White topaz is a perfect candidate for quality, authentic jewelry that is not necessarily timeless — perfect candidate stone for fashion risks.
Though white topaz may accumulate wear and tear more easily, the fear of loss or theft is significantly lessened. Wearing diamonds is no easy feat, often requiring a heightened sense of awareness. Wearing white topaz, on the other hand, is a more relaxing endeavor.
If something awful happens to your white topaz jewelry, it can easily be replaced. The same cannot be said for diamonds. Aside from cost of diamond replacement, the heightened scarcity makes diamond jewelry replicas difficult to find.
The Drawbacks of Purchasing White Topaz Gem
White topaz visually ages at a faster rate, becoming faded and cloudy. There are several reasons why white topaz can lose its color, shine, and overall brilliance.
White topaz is an 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it more durable than other stones such as quartz. Regardless of its relative toughness, white topaz is still sensitive to damages and susceptible to scratching. Activities such as showering, or sunlight can cause breakages that make the stone appear dull and foggy.
To keep white topaz in good condition, it must be cleaned, requiring routine maintenance and cleaning. However, too much cleaning will damage the stone – the same way that not cleaning will. If the water is too hot or the cloth is too rough, white topaz can accumulate scratches and the same foggy white hue.
Due to its fragility, white topaz does not maintain its value well over time. White topaz can be a beautiful option for short term wear but requires hefty maintenance to stay visually appealing.
The Pros of Getting Diamonds
People buy diamonds with no intent of ever wearing them. Diamonds’ durability and timeless shine make them an attractive investment. Since 1960, the per carat diamond price has increased over tenfold.
Diamonds do not just hold their value; they gain value over time. Their value increase is about the equivalent of the average returns on the S&P 500. Every one dollar invested into diamonds is historically – and on average – the equivalent to one dollar into the S&P 500.
Diamonds are virtually indestructible, meaning that the user can still get good tactile use while gaining financial value. Diamonds’ visual appeal and financial value pass the time test.
Due to diamond’s durability, diamonds are less likely to accrue flaws and impurities. The clarity and brilliance are not dimmed by external factors.
Diamonds hold their financial and aesthetic beauty even with excessive wear.
The Cons of Getting Dimaonds
Diamonds still require high-up-front capital even if they are purchased for investment. This high up-front cost can be a major turn-off, especially since liquidity is uncertain. Though the value of a diamond may stay consistent, it may take some time for a buyer to purchase.
The high up-front cost can be difficult to justify for aesthetic purposes. While the sparkle and shine are superior, diamonds’ key characteristics may not be visible in photos.
If the diamond’s purpose is to be worn to one event. The visual appeal may be drowned out by the high cost.
Interestingly, diamond mining has a high carbon footprint and is quite unsustainable. As consumers become more eco-conscious, the moral dilemma may outweigh any aesthetic value. Socially, consumers’ preferences could shift to more eco-friendly gems.
Diamonds have historically been a promising investment, but their unsustainability may cause consumer preferences to unfavorably shift away in the future.
Should You Buy White Topaz Or Diamonds?
White topaz has an impeccable shine and versatility, perfect for dazzling memories at an affordable price. There are more available styles and options, making white topaz an affordable way to experiment with fashion.
If you’re looking to experiment with jewelry designs, especially on a budget, white topaz is the clear winner. Additionally, if you tend to lose things, (me), white topaz jewelry can easily be replaced. White topaz can be a more fun and stress-free option that can easily be dressed up or down.
Diamonds, on the contrary, have an even greater shine and visual appeal. Their indestructibility and durability make them able to withstand all tests of time. Visually and financially, they hold their value.
If you are looking to purchase jewelry that can be worn and later resold, diamonds are the clear winner. Additionally, if you are looking for a one-of-a-kind special piece, the unmatched brilliance may be worth the extra charge.
I love my best friend, but I love hanging out with other friends too. Similarly, diamonds and white topaz can both be amazing depending on your personal connection to the pieces.
In any price range, jewelry is still an investment in the self and personal appearance. White topaz is a beautiful gem with a great variety to experiment with. Of course, their beauty fades, but they are easily replaceable and still look great for their lifespan.
Diamonds, on the other hand, ooze beauty and glamour throughout time. However, the high up-front cost and unsustainable supply chain decrease their seductive allure.
For stylistic, short-term wear, choose white topaz. For longer, durable wear, choose diamonds.
Our Team of 10 includes jewelry experts, antique Buyers & Sellers, baseball card collectors, and other appraisal experts.