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Q & A: radioactive blue topaz?

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Most recent answer: 09/02/2020
Q:
About a year ago I purchased a necklace and earrings in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. They are opal with blue topaz. I found out later that blue topaz doesn't exist naturally in nature but is usually produced by exposing naturally-colored topaz to radioactivity and often it is still radioactive after this exposure!! I'm afraid to wear the jewelry now. Where can I go to have the jewelry evaluated for radioactivity?? Thank you!!
- Michele Markel (age 68)
Orange, Ca. USA
A:

Irradiated blue topaz sold in the US is supposed to be safe, as determined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (https://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2014/12/08/blue-topaz-the-irradiated-gemstone/#:~:text=Most%20blue%20topaz%20on%20the,ensure%20public%20health%20is%20protected.) They say that the radioactivity fades to negligible levels in a few months. You could let your topaz sit in an attic or something for a year, in case it isn't already safe. Or you could get an inexpensive Geiger counter (~$60) to make sure it's not very radioactive. I don't know whether that's small compared to the price of the jewelry or too costly to be worth it. If you do get a Geiger counter, it might be fun to compare the radioativity of various household items, such as bananas.

Mike W.


(published on 09/02/2020)

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