Sunday, 10 November 2013


This time last year I was gearing up towards the December release of my ancestral mystery novel - Topaz Eyes  - and wondering what to include in the blog tour stops for that book launch. One of the topics I chose to write about was topaz, not a great surprise given the book's title. 

As I wrote my story, I made some investigations when I decided to have the gemstone feature in the treasure hunt for the Mughal gems that appeared to vanish around 1910, scattered amongst the progeny of Geertje Hoogeven.

My hero, Teun Zeger, is very taken with a particular topaz stone but telling you why might be too revealing. Keira Drummond finds she’s also quite partial to topaz…again a mystery you’ll resolve in Topaz Eyes when you read it.

The name topaz comes from the Sanskrit and means fire. My novel Topaz Eyes didn’t start out with a name; I was well through the writing when the name hit me like a sledgehammer. I knew very little about the gemstone called topaz, though I once-upon-a-time owned a gold ring that had a beautiful, rectangular, amber topaz. Sadly, that ring was stolen during a house break-in many years ago, but I’ve not forgotten the hue of it.

This image was taken from Wikimedia Commons – the photographer Gery Parent.

The colours of the beautiful amber coloured topaz are perfect for my use of the gem in Topaz Eyes, though when I went trawling the internet for descriptions I found topaz stones come in many variations.

Topaz is a fairly common gemstone. It has won accolades for the beauty of its well-formed crystals; and the fact that it is of sufficient hardness, and general clarity, make it popular. A silicate mineral of aluminium and fluorine, Topaz is one of the hardest minerals in nature and can be found in massive sizes. Topaz can be colourless, white, yellow, pale gray or reddish-orange, and blue brown. 

The traditional November birthstone is the orange/yellow variety. Imperial topaz is generally yellow or pink-orange, though during my researches I found a reference to one which resembled the deeper colours of the photo above. Red and pink topaz gems were used in the jewellery of the 18th and 19th Century Russian Czarinas and is why topaz is sometimes called "Imperial Topaz".

Some gemmology experts claim the December birthstone is also topaz - but of the blue varieties. Treatment can be done to topaz to enhance the colouring - heat treatment, or irradiation, in particular being used often to produce a darker blue topaz.
More associations for topaz state that it’s a talisman for the sign of Sagittarius. When it comes to those anniversary gifts some would tell you a topaz is appropriate for the 4t, 19th or 23rd year of marriage. Other lists for celebration items might tell you different, of course! 

The most famous topaz is actually a colourless topaz called the "Braganza Diamond" - a 1680 carat stone set in the Portuguese Crown Jewels. I can't show the crown jewel but here's another colourless one.

One of the world’s finest topaz collections is in the Green Vault in Dresden. A very good reason for me to base a lot of my novel in Germany, and Dresden gets a mention, too, in a round-about ancestral way!

Various myths and legends abound about topaz stones. It was thought constructive in healing both physical and mental disorders during the Middle Ages, and in some texts it was even credited with preventing death from occurring! How that would be, I have no idea. Do you?

Greek myths are extremely interesting, too. Ancient Greeks thought it increased strength and made the wearer invisible. Roman thought, on the other hand, was that it improved eyesight-exactly how that happened I have no idea either, but would love to know since my eyesight is steadily deteriorating from staring at a computer screen all day long! Ancient Egyptians claimed it was coloured with the golden glow of the sun god and wore it as protection from injury.

All in all, topaz is a very good all- round stone to dazzle the day with!

My hero, Teun Zeger, is fairly dazzled in Topaz Eyes by Keira Drummond, but you’d need to read the novel to learn more…

A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910.

Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife.

Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota?  Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger - a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery?

As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposure. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels?

Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love.

“Would you ditch the mystery, Jensen, and just enlighten me as to what you think I have that interests you? And tell me why you couldn’t have asked for it in the letter you sent to me? I came here of my own free will – granted – but I’m not hanging around any longer if you’re going to drag this out, for I’m damned sure I’ve no idea what you’re referring to.”
            Jensen’s reply lacked emotion, his face a blank screen, his gaze focused on Teun as Keira regarded the by-play.
            “Teun. It may come as a surprise to you, but you actually know more about this invitation than Keira. At least you knew from my letter I had something of family interest you might be glad to take back to the USA with you. Keira had no such suggestion made to her.”
            Tension rose in the room, which didn’t only radiate from Teun.
            Keira sat uneasy, also unwilling to be in the dark any longer. “Would you please explain why you think I may have something you want, Herr Amsel?” She found herself reluctant to use his first name, considering the antagonism now mounting.
            “All in good time, Keira. And please call me Jensen. I don’t set out to be anyone’s enemy. I believe each of you can provide access to items belonging to the collection. All the pieces are likely to vary in monetary value but, viewed as a complete entity, it will make an impressive display. It’s a historic set… and unique.”

Author bio:
An ex-primary teacher, Nancy Jardine, lives in the fabulous castle country of Aberdeenshire – Scotland. Her husband mans the kitchen, her offspring only an hour’s drive away. When time permits, ancestry research is an intermittent hobby. Neglecting her large garden in favour of writing, she now grows spectacularly giant thistles. Activity weekends with her extended family are prized since they give her great fodder for new writing.

A lover of history, it sneaks into most of her writing along with many of the fantastic world locations she has been fortunate to visit. Her published work to date has been two non fiction history related projects; two contemporary ancestral mysteries; one light-hearted contemporary romance mystery and a historical novel, The Beltane Choice, also published by Crooked Cat Publishing

Topaz Eyes is available in e-book formats and print from Amazon UK,  and e-book formats from
Book trailer Youtube video for Topaz Eyes can be viewed at

Other books by Nancy Jardine can be seen on her amazon UKpage:

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