Mar 10

White Topaz vs Diamond for Your Engagement Ring

By Calla Gold

white topaz vs diamond

Bright White Topaz in Sun, Moon and Hearts Ring

White Topaz vs Diamond That is the Question

What’s a better gemstone for a wedding or engagement ring: in the white topaz vs diamond debate?

As a jeweler with over 30 years experience, and a designer specializing in wedding rings, I think the answer is obvious.  Read on to find out why I feel this way, and the science behind it.

The Real Thing

Diamond and topaz are both naturally occurring stones. They’re both organic substances, grown and nurtured over millions of years deep inside Mother Earth. In my eyes, that’s a plus. I like the real thing—especially in something symbolizing my connection to the guy I plan to stay with for the rest of my life.

Platinum Wedding Set with Diamonds

Platinum Wedding Set with Diamonds

I would choose a topaz over a laboratory created, not real anything, cubic zirconia any day of the week, even if the cubic zerconia is “stronger.” Would I choose a topaz over a diamond, though? That’s another story. Keep reading.

What is a White Topaz?

Natural topaz comes in a wide variety of colors, although almost all of the gemstones coming out of mines are colorless, dull, and full of inclusions. The gems are treated by a variety of methods to impart the color and make them clearer.

Brazil is the source for the majority of topaz today.

Is White Topaz a Hard Gemstone?

Mohs Scale

Mohs Scale of Gemstone Hardness

Topaz is an 8 on the standard Mohs hardness scale. Diamond is the hardest substance, topping the scale at 10. On one hand, topaz is a relatively hard stone. On the other, the Mohs scale is relative. What this means is, that in actuality, diamonds are really over 6 times harder than topaz!

In practical terms, this means topaz scratches a heck of lot easier than diamond. Over time, as the facets wear down and the scratches accumulate, the brightness and shininess of the original stone will fade and it will look dull and cloudy even after cleaning.

Unlike topaz, diamonds rarely ever scratch and they never fade or become dull. Like the advertisements say: diamonds are forever. Topaz? Not nearly so long.

Which stone will hold up the best over time? The clear winner is diamond. It’s not even close.

What about Sparkle and Shine?

Wedding and engagement rings are worn every day. Hopefully, they’ll be worn for the rest of your life! For this reason, you want a gemstone that will stand up to the rigors of everyday life. You want a stone that will continue to sparkle and shine forever. Diamonds fit this bill. Topaz does not.

White topaz may look brilliant and dazzling under the perfect, bright lights at the jewelry store, but just know, this shine and sparkle will not last.  As I mentioned, the scratches will accumulate and the stone will begin to look faded and cloudy.

But my diamond doesn’t look like it did when I first bought it! It’s not as sparkly! The reason diamonds appear less sparkly is due to the buildup of dirt, oils, and grime on the surface of the stone—not because of an accumulation of scratches. Remember: diamonds don’t scratch. Topaz does.

A simple cleaning with warm soapy water and a toothbrush is usually enough to restore your diamond’s luster. In contrast, a topaz would have to be professionally re-polished when it becomes scratched.

Light Dispersion and Light Refraction Chart

Light Dispersion and Light Refraction Chart

The Refractive Index and Why You Should Care About it

Reflection is light bouncing off the surface of a gemstone. Refraction is what happens to the light entering a gem, changing speed and direction, and shooting back out one way or another. The refractive index measures the amount of change of the direction. Or as jewelers say “light return.”

Basically, the stronger the refraction, the more brilliant the gemstone. Diamond has a refractive number of 2.42. Topaz is 1.64. Diamond is more brilliant than topaz!

Why Did I Get All Technical There?

Refraction and the amount a gemstone refracts light becomes really important when your ring gets dirty. I wear my ring daily and I don’t clean it as much as I should. Because I wear diamonds they still sparkle when dirty. They don’t sparkle as much as when they are perfectly clean, but they still sparkle.

The lower refractive measurement of topaz basically means that when your white topaz gets dirty and all daily wear rings get dirty, it will sparkle significantly less than a diamond with the higher refraction.

white topaz vs diamond blog. Diamonds shown

When Setting Gemstones Down in the Gold Like I Did For a Nurse, Only Diamonds Will Give You That Sparkle for Daily Wear

I feel like that sparkle from my diamonds is a good representation of the emotion wrapped up in my wedding ring. It’s pretty magical that two people find each other, fall in love, make each other happy and team up and get married. I celebrate the magic of love and marriage in my life with my wedding ring. And I need that sparkle, because it represents the magic to me.

I don’t want to look down at the most important piece of jewelry I’ll ever have and have a drab looking gemstones looking back at me. I’ve seen dirty white sapphires that look like crappy diamonds. That wouldn’t “represent”, as some hip hop song would say. That’s why I got all technical on you there.

What about Price?

I won’t argue with you, white topaz is way, way less expensive than diamonds! No two ways about it. A carat diamond could set you back thousands of dollars. A carat topaz? A hundred or two at the most.

“But I can’t afford thousands!” You say!

Many women start out their married lives with smaller diamonds in their rings. After some years have gone by, their fella replaces their smaller diamond with something larger. This is very common. It can be a great celebration of how coming together has improved their lives.

white topaz vs diamond

Diamonds Set Within Curlicues as a Wedding Ring

My White Topaz vs Diamond Recommendation

I advise my clients when thinking wedding ring design and gemstones to look past how amazing a design or gem looks when clean and brand new and to look into the future realistically. Ask how your ring will look, how your gems will look at 9pm after doing the dishes, after lotioning your hand when you accidentally left your ring on, after a month of a busy life when you haven’t had time to clean it.

With less refraction, topaz loses its sparkle when dirty. For a daily wear ring this spells trouble.

I recommend diamond over topaz. Diamonds will sparkle and last longer than topaz—especially in wedding and engagement rings designed to be worn everyday.

What About White Sapphires?

I wrote about white sapphire vs diamonds for engagement rings too.

Diamond Jeweler,
Calla Gold

 

36 thoughts on “White Topaz vs Diamond for Your Engagement Ring

  1. Hey Calla, the saying should be “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend…forever”! Great article, well written, and very informative. Thank you!

    • Hi Linda,
      Great minds think alike. “Diamonds are Forever” is a registered trademark. I like yours too! Thank you for your kind words Linda.
      Diamond Calla

  2. I didn’t realize that white topaz was used for wedding rings until reading this article. My wedding ring is 48 years old, and the diamonds still sparkle! It was nice to hear how meaningful your ring is to you, because I feel the same about mine. Thanks for another wonderfully informative article, Calla!

    Linda

    • Hi Linda,
      The new generation is really good about questioning conventions. I’d been asked many times by clients in their 20’s why diamond is the go-to wedding ring gemstone and why not white topaz or white sapphire. I first did the white sapphire post (http://www.callagold.com/diamonds/white-sapphires-vs-diamonds-engagement-rings/) and decided that white topaz needed its own article.
      I’m glad you enjoyed it Linda.
      I loved hearing how your diamonds are still sparkling after 48 years, that is the magic of diamonds. You are for sure a good wife and I bet your husband is a wonderful guy.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  3. Before reading your blog, I didn’t realize that people considered so many different alternatives for their wedding rings. After reading this and having followed your Calla Gold blog for a while, I feel pretty well-educated on why diamonds are the go-to for wedding rings.

    Thank you for always sharing your knowledge with us.
    Lisa

    • Hi Lisa,
      I’m delighted that reading the blog posts is helping you find out what the choices are and to pick your personal choice. It’s great to get your feedback!
      Calla Gold

  4. Thank you for the great post which cleared up my curiosity about the difference between the white topaz and diamond gemstones. I did not realize that so many people consider other choices besides the diamond for wedding rings. Clearly, the diamond is the winner !

    • Hi Michelle,
      Yay, another person chooses diamond! I too never knew that people were considering alternate gems until the questions started coming in. That’s what prompted me to write this blog post.
      I noticed that most informed people would choose diamond.
      Calla Gold

  5. Personally, as a young and broke engaged person who constantly loses jewelry, I would still choose topaz. I understand the whole sparkle thing but I just can’t justify the price of those artificially inflated stones (especially if I lose it!). Besides, there is the ethical issue, which I’m surprised wasn’t covered.

    Why would I want a blood diamond mined by some poor, starving child slave be used as a symbol of my love? Sounds very selfish and ugly to me. Someone possibly died for that stone you wanted just because it sparkled longer. For now, I plan on getting white topaz and maybe later, if I feel like it, replace it with a fair trade diamond. This is just my two cents.

    • Hi Christine,
      I do understand the losing jewelry reason to choose a less expensive gem. And I get that topaz is less expensive, but don’t assume that to buy a diamond is to get a blood diamond.
      The percentage of actual blood diamonds is extremely low. If you put gas in your car the blood gas that no one talks about is a much higher percentage of abuse. But I won’t get up on my soapbox.
      You can easily get ethical diamonds. These are my specialty.
      I choose diamonds even if they are little!
      Calla Gold

  6. As a chemist, I must point out that diamonds are not forever and not all dullness is just build up from wearing it all the time. Diamond on the atomic level is just carbon in elemental form, but I think it’s fair to say everyone knows that. What people don’t realize is that over time it will turn into its most stable elemental form. There is no way to avoid it, no way to prevent it. Your diamond will without a shadow of a doubt slowly turn into the most stable form of carbon. That form of carbon is graphite. That’s right. Your diamond will turn into what we put into pencils to write with. It does take a long time, sure. But if you want your diamond to become an heirloom or to be passed down through generations you should keep this in mind. No jeweler can polish the graphite out of your thousand dollar diamond

    • Dear Rebekah,
      Diamonds start out as graphite and then are transformed in the earth crust to diamond by the extreme heat and pressure which changes the atomic structure. This process takes 3.3 billion years. If it takes 3.3 billion years to turn it back; who cares. I asked my diamond expert Tom Seguin G.G. A.S.A. Master Gemologists Appraiser to take a look:
      “I looked through 4 books on diamonds that I have and found no reference to diamonds being unstable. One of my references specifically states that under normal conditions diamond does not decay. I don’t suggest baking your engagement ring in the oven at 600 degrees, but that aside I think diamond owners are safe. You can quote me.”
      Rebekah, my experience has been that if a clear diamond looks cloudy, it just needs cleaning.
      No one need worry that their diamond today will be a pencil tomorrow.
      Diamond loving jeweler,
      Calla Gold

  7. Hello Ladies,
    I love diamond and white topaz and white sapphire also! I am a gem collector but I have used each type in jewelry. They are all gorgeous and can and should be kept clean. Even tip top quality cubic zirconia is beautiful and even though it needs to be kept clean, it is so easy to do. I just keep a small glass of ammonia handy and an old toothbrush. I alternate that Dawn dishwashing liquid. My gems sparkle like mad. All of them are fine for everyday but really none of them should be worn while doing chores, perhaps except diamond, depending upon the nature of the chores. 🙂

    As for diamonds turning into graphite, I don’t think so. I inherited a wonderful rose window diamond from my grandmother and it is the most scintillating stone I own. Besides, rough stones are already ages old before we even find and cut them. There are diamonds in museums and in historical pieces that are ancient and they are still diamonds. 🙂

    • Hello Ginger,
      Thank you for your cleaning tips. I appreciate your viewpoint on the white sapphire, white topaz and cz.
      I also appreciate that you’ve read the comments of others on the thread. Like the comment warning that diamonds will turn into graphite!Which happily we needn’t worry about.
      Your rose cut diamond sounds beautiful. I have the happy task of setting a client’s inherited rose cut diamonds into a new wedding ring for her. I’m so excited, especially because they are nice and white and sparkly. I’ll be designing a nice vintage style setting with hand engraving details. I love rose cut diamonds.
      I hope to see you again in the comments Ginger!
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  8. I’m considering buying a white topaz as a travel ring (I like to leave my wedding rings and anniversary band at home in the safe when traveling internationally), so I really appreciated your article and your thoughts!

  9. What about a white Zircon? Their refractive value is 2.15 to 2.18. Are they not a good option, though they rate 7.5 on the Mohs scale? Curious to know why Zircons are not opted for if a diamond is not affordable.

    • Hello Judi,
      Thank you for writing. White zircon has a wider range of refractive value,(measurement of refraction of light) . Anywhere from 1.7 to 1.96. Diamond on the other hand has a refractive index of 2.4 just to compare. Another comparative gemstone would be sapphire which has a refractive index of 1.76. When sapphire gets dirty it goes 100% dull. So it is its color not its sparklyness that are the value and the beauty of sapphire. When you choose a gemstone that is clear and it gets 100% dull which happens easily with a daily wear gemstone it ends up looking like a crappy diamond.
      On hardness there are different qualities of zircon and their rating on the Mohs’ Scale of hardness ranges between 6 and 7.5. For daily wear this is a bit of a soft gemstone. I have had to re-buff facets on a number of blue zircons.
      I would stay away from white zircon as an engagement gemstone. If you had to have a clear gemstone and a small diamond was not an option I’d check out moissanite. See my blog post:
      http://www.callagold.com/wedding-rings/moissanite-for-your-engagement-ring/
      Jewelers are divided about whether this choice is a valuable option. If you want a one carat diamond and can’t afford it, the moissanite will sparkle when dirty and has a good hardness.
      Good luck with a happy gemstone choice for your engagement ring.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  10. This is all bull. I have two white topaz rings, one of which is five carats, that sparkle much more brightly than any diamonds I’ve ever owned, and they’re just as scratch-resistant. So are my three blue topaz rings, one of which is ten carats. I wear all my rings regularly and they’re gorgeous. Give me white topaz over some over-priced diamond any day.

    • Dear Fortune,
      I’m happy to hear that your white topaz continue to sparkle brightly.
      As a jeweler who does a tremendous amount of jewelry repair work I see repeatedly scratched and dull looking white and blue topaz. My experience tells me that daily wear of these gemstones leads to a duller look.
      Since the refractive index of topaz is lower than diamond I’m wondering what diamonds you have seen that sparkle less than your white topaz. Happily what I have observed with white topaz hasn’t occurred with you. I’d say cherish your gems which have bucked the trend and the MOHS’ scale of hardness findings.
      Calla Gold

  11. Though this was well written, and clearly a topic of passion, I feel like diamonds are a terrible choice 100% of the time. It is terrible what human beings go through so people can walk around with a gaudy, over glorified stone on their hand. First, diamonds are not as rare as folks are led to believe. If you want something rare and stunning try a ruby, emerald, or saphire of the highest quality. Secondly, I have have a white topaz engagement ring that has shone on for many years just as brilliantly as the day it was placed there. Not only was it a realistic cost effective choice, but no one can tell the difference just by looking at it. I feel like this article is literally a sales pitch to sell diamonds.

    • Hi Katelyn,
      I’m happy for you that your white topaz has done so well over the years. The white topaz gemstones I have seen come in for repair and replacement have looked over and over again scratched and damaged when worn daily. I have also seen them just look dull from soap, or hard water deposits. Perhaps your care of yours has made the difference. In my 32 years as a jeweler I have seen that they are not viable as a daily wear ring.
      As far as your complaints about diamonds I too saw the movie and am aware that a tiny percentage of diamonds are ill gotten. I use only conflict free diamonds. People can also get Canadian diamonds which benefits the native Canadians with prosperity and jobs.
      I have a blog about it on my blog roll.
      I do feel passionately that with the hardness, durability and sparkle diamonds give even when dirty that they are the best choice for a daily wear ring.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla Gold

      • While this article is informative, the author (Calla) comes off as very arrogant in her replies to those who don’t agree w/ her view. It’s really too bad!

        • Dear Aelle,
          I’m sorry you feel that way. It is not my intention to make anyone feel bad or wrong in my blog. My goal is to educate and answer frequently asked questions, try to be not boring and start conversations online.
          Your Personal Jeweler,
          Calla

  12. This was so informative. I just purchased a 2c cushion cut, prong-set, Peridot with 2 white topaz stones, prong-set, sitting lengthwise on each side of the Peridot. Total 4 topaz stones, 2 on each side. They are faceted. Peridot is my Father’s birthstone, so it means a lot to me. This is the first piece of jewelry I’ve owned with white topaz. I thought of giving it a try, plus the price was right. The metal is 925 SS, not uncommon for semi-precious stones. I didn’t realize topaz was loaded with inclusions and so it is treated to gain clarity and color. It was my understanding it comes out of a mine clean and colorless. Now I know different. This won’t be an everyday ring, so do you think it will be ok for some years to come? I always keep my jewelry clean and protected. I keep all SS in protective, anti-tarnish cloth bags. I remove all my jewelry when showering, cleaning, swimming, or washing dishes. I never put lotion on my hands with my rings on, only after do I put them on. I even take my jewelry off when I give myself a manicure or pedicure. Citrine was my Mother’s birthstone, so I have many pieces of jewelry with that stone. Several pieces I inherited after her passing. Perhaps you have some information about Citrine? The rings that were my Mother’s are set in white 14k gold with diamonds. I’ll check back and see what information you might share about Citrine. Thank you!

    • Hi Nancy,
      You treat your jewelry with such respect. I believe with your gentle treatment of it, your peridot and white topaz ring will last you a long time.
      As far as citrine goes, it is in the quartz family with a hardness of 7 on the MOHS scale. Here is my explanation of the significance of a number on the MOHS scale of hardness:
      http://www.callagold.com/education/what-is-the-mohs-scale-gemstone-hardness-vs-durability/
      Citrine is a fairly common gemstone mined in the US primarily in North Carolina and California. It is also found in Europe and South America. It tends to be available in inclusion free gemstones and has a nice surface luster.
      Carry on with your jewelry collection.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  13. Hello,
    I have a question about the treatments for white topaz. Is topaz ever treated to make it more white and clear or is white topaz always natural and untreated.
    Thank you
    Jim

    • Hi Jim,
      My fantastic gemologically trained friend Antoinette Matlins FGA is working on a guest posting for my blog on heated gems and I asked her to answer your question for you. Here is her answer:
      “Actually, colorless (aka “white”) topaz is exactly that: white. It is very common in Brazil and other places and comes out of the ground as colorless. While colorless material, and slightly tinted brownish material can be treated to create other COLORS, when you see “colorless” in the marketplace, it is naturally colorless and an increasing number of people are using it now as an alternative to “artificial” diamonds (CZ, moissanite, colorless zircon — which is treated — YAG, GGG, strontium titanite, and so on). It is actually very bright and very affordable (similar to colorless beryl, for example, but it is BRIGHTER than colorless beryl, or colorless quartz as another example.
      Hope this is helpful!”

  14. I was wondering if you had any problems using white topaz in earrings since they are not likely to get the kind of wear and tear that a ring does.

    • Hello Ann,
      I feel that white topaz used in earrings is a very good choice. Your logic is just right. Enjoy your white topaz earrings.
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  15. Wow, there is sure is some proof in the comments here that some who use the Internet just don’t understand that there us a real human behind every article or Blog. 🙁 I appreciate this article AND the very cool (and rare) fact that the author has interacted with everyone who commented! Excellent article, great responses, I for one am grateful.

    I bought my Mom a gold ring with Bella Luce (diamond simulants, not sure if they all fall under “CZ”) stones ten years ago, it was the most I had spent on literally anything in my life 🙂 The band is real, made to last, etc.
    Anyway, short story long, haha, she wears that ring every day, the ring she wore daily for 36 years previous? Have not seen it.
    I was, however, bummed out to find that the stones do get ” cloudy”, and she has them replaced ( I wish I knew how often, sorry this is less helpful than I hoped) But it must not be too much of a hassle or she would have tossed the ring by now. So maybe if you are just getting engaged now, and would rather spend money on a house down payment or honeymoon, I wonder if you could have a white topaz for now, then when finances are better, replace it with a diamond? Diamonds do seem like a smart buy for a long term piece of jewelry, I do see the wisdom in that. But if you can’t afford one, maybe choose a solitaire or similar that you could “upgrade” to later.
    Now I wonder what stones look like diamonds and might be higher on the mohs (sp) scale?
    Thanks again for the article, it was very informative. My birthstone is aquamarine and for a while we were told they got too rare, and that a blue topaz looked the same but was less expensive. That’s how I ended up here! 🙂

    • Hi Lili,
      How delightful for being noticed as a human and acknowledged. A blue ribbon for the reader – you!
      The ring you got your mom, with the Bella Luce stones is no doubt super meaningful to her because you gave it to her with such love. She’d replace gems till the end of time if it’s from you.
      I don’t actually know about Bella Luce stones. It’s probably a company name for cz, but I don’t know any facts about it.
      A clear stone choice that is higher on the Mohs scale would be moissanite for those in a budgetary frame of mind. I talk about it here:
      http://www.callagold.com/wedding-rings/moissanite-for-your-engagement-ring/
      I personally like aquamarines for their great sparkle. They are not rare, but they are not as plentiful as blue topaz so they do cost more.
      I’m glad you ended up here and I hope you’ll come again!
      Your Personal Jeweler,
      Calla

  16. Full disclosure… My fiance and I are in love w a wedding ring style that we will never be able to afford. Yes, I get it, diamonds are the end all be all, but they are not always an attainable reality for everyone and I am ok with that. Having said that, I have found a similar one on etsy… they can make it out of more affordable gems. If I really want a white stone that wont look like crud as it ages, what white stone substitute would you suggest (if you absolutely had to)? Thank you kindly in advance for your suggestions.

  17. This was interesting and informative. I just purchased a 2 carat topaz ring from a dealer on Etsy that is 65 years old. The photos are gorgeous, it will be interesting to see the ring in person and see if it is as sparkly. Thanks for the post.

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