Who first comes to this world below In dreary November's fog and snow, Should prize the topaz amber hue, Emblem of friends and lovers true
Magnificent red yellow topaz in its natural uncut crystalline form
Topaz is silicate based (Al2SiO4(F,OH)2) and is one of the hardest minerals found in nature. Single topaz crystals can also reach the incredible size of several hundred kilograms. Pure topaz is colourless and transparent but is usually tinted by chemical impurities. Typical topaz colours are yellow, reddish-orange and brown; more rarely specimens may be white, pale green, blue, gold or pink (the rarest of all colours). Some topaz colours are unstable and can fade away when exposed to sunlight, while colour changes can be induced by heating and irradiating pale stones, most commonly to a beautiful aqua-blue tint. So called "mystic topaz" is colourless material which has been artificially coated to give it a rainbow effect.Topaz is very attractive to the jewellery industry because of its hardness, clarity, fire and range of beautiful colours, and holds it value well because of its relative rarity. Pure topaz, when brilliantly cut, may be mistaken for diamond.
Topaz deposits are found in many parts of the world including the Ural and Ilmen mountains of Russia, in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Pakistan, Italy, Sweden, Japan, Brazil, Mexico and the United States.Blue topaz is the Texas state gemstone, while the deposits of Brazil produce some of the most spectacularly sized and coloured specimens ever found.
The most famous topaz in the world is a colourless stone known as the "Braganza Diamond" set in the Portuguese Crown Jewels. Originally thought to be a diamond, it weighs a whopping1680 carats. The world's largest faceted gemstone is the "El-Dorado Topaz", weighing 31,000 carats (equivalent to 6.2 kg). When first discovered in Brazil in 1984, the rough "El-Dorado" crystal actually weighed 37 kg; a total of 30.8 kg of stone was cut away to reveal a final stone of perfect cut, clarity and golden colour.
Historically, the ancient Greeks believed that topaz had to power to increase strength and to make its wearer invisible while the Romans believed it could improve eyesight. The Egyptians wore it as an amulet to protect them from injury. During the Middle Ages, topazes were worn mostly by royalty and clergy to help cultivate the goodwill of kings, princes and magnates. The stone was thought to have the power to cool boiling water and excessive anger and as medication, ground topaz was added to wine to cure fever, prevent asthma and insomnia, strengthen the mind, increase wisdom and prevent mental disorders.
Yellow topaz and gold ring, created by Mauro Cateb, Brazilian jeweller and silversmith. Photo credit: Mauro Cateb
Citrine, the pale yellow gem belonging to the quartz species is considered an alternative to topaz as the birthstone for November. Named from the French word for lemon, citrine has the advantage of being a very affordable gemstone thanks to its ready availability. In ancient times, citrine was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts.
Linda has a Honours degree in Marine Biology and a PhD in Ecology from the University of NSW, Australia. She has travelled extensively and is a passionate writer on subjects as diverse as the role played by women throughout history, tribal communities and their customs, symbology and ethnology, talismans and their history. Occasionally she also writes about her travel experiences, her new life on a 25 acres in the Northern Rivers region of northern Australia and her black miniature poodle Phoenix. She is currently writing her first book on talismans.
In 1989 my father Bernard packed in his house painting business and set off for two years on a backpacking trek to the remotest corners of the world. When he finally arrived in the oasis city of Kashgar, China, he was so impressed with its history that he decided to start a new life collecting and selling exotic goods from all over the world. For 2000 years the legendary city of Kashgar was a melting pot of ideas and a key trading post on the historic Silk Road. It was this unique combination of philosophy and trade that my father wanted to recreate at home.
Starting in markets in 1991, he opened his first store in the Sydney suburb of Newtown in 1994. I gave up my own career as a government scientist to join him in 2000 and soon convinced my partner Ian to join us in what was to become the Family Business.
Today our version of Kashgar stocks a hugely diverse range of furniture, rugs, textiles, antiques, handicrafts and jewellery sourced from over twenty different countries including India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Thailand, Burma, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, Turkey, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Our collection includes contemporary and tribal silver and gold jewellery, a unique range of headhunting curios, antique Buddhist relics and a collection of one-off necklaces, earrings and bracelets that I design and create myself using the beads and jewellery making techniques of ethnic minorities from around the globe.
Kashgar is a philosophy as well as a store. We are committed to supporting traditional artisans and small village communities by selling authentic handcrafted goods which are personally collected by us. By supporting traditional methods of design and production we hope to encourage local cottage industries which have a low impact on the environment and help ethnic minorities maintain their self-sufficiency into the 21st Century. We are particularly committed to assisting women around the world and to this end have worked with several organisations including the Hua Bin Women's Union of Vietnam, the East Timorese Women's Association and Tikondane in Zambia. Time honoured means of craftsmanship and traditional ways of life are disappearing as people all over the world give up their identity in favour of jeans and T-shirts. We see our trade as a means of staving off the inevitable encroachment of the 21st century, assisting communities to decide for themselves which parts of the western world they wish to incorporate (medicine, education) and which they wish to reject (prostitution, drug production, begging and servitude to warlords). We encourage our customers to think of the handicrafts and artifacts they buy from us as an investment: a piece of history and a way of life that may soon be gone forever.
Kashgar has recently closed its retail outlet and gone completely online.
In the past our pieces appeared in many movies including The Hobbit, Mission Impossible 2, Queen of the Damned, Scooby Doo, Moulin Rouge and Wolverine, and in many televisions series, as well as in plays, commercials and exhibitions. We've found special pieces for individual customers as well as for film sets, event management companies, hotels, businesses, consulates and embassies. The uniqueness of our stock means that we are also very appealing to interior and fashion designers with a taste for the exotic.
There is something for everyone at Kashgar - collectors, the curious, those looking for a special present or for something unique to adorn the home. Most of our items are one-off specialties; other pieces we only stock in small quantities so as to continuously offer a wide and ever-changing range of interesting products. We are also packed with ideas for decorating home and work premises that will challenge your established concepts of design and storage.
Please enjoy - Linda Heaphy
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