Frederick Kunz in THE CURIOUS LORE OF PRECIOUS STONES has written that
topaz was one of the gemstones in the Breastplate of Aaron, also known as the Breastplate of the High Priest. He examines
in detail commentaries on passages from EXODUS, xxxvii, 15-30, and from REVELATIONS, xxi, 9-12, from which he traces associations
among the the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 apostles, and the 12 birthstones. Kunz also ascribes the present choice of the
12 "natal stones" to Josephus, circa 1st century AD, and to St. Jerome, 5th century AD. Both Josephus and St. Jerome
base their lists on the descriptions of the 12 gemstones in the High Priest's Breastplate as listed in EXODUS and REVELATION.
One of the finest collections of topaz had been assembled in Istanbul, formally
known as Constantinople, during its time of great prominence. Unfortunately, this collection has been scattered to the four
corners of Europe during the Crusades of the Middle Ages, never to be assembled again. Conflicts certainly have long histories.
In times past, when diamond cutting was not
as precise as it is today, some small diamonds were confused with topaz as well as the other way round. However, it was not
only small gemstones that were misidentified. For instance, a fine "diamond" weighing 1,680 carats known as the
"Braganza" had been considered a centerpiece in the Portuguese crown jewels. Today, we know the Braganza as a beautiful
topaz of fine color and clarity. Still an exceptional stone, regandless of the change in pedigree.