November, like many months, has more than one birthstone option. Traditionally, Topaz is the rightful birthstone. A modern alternative is Citrine. Commonly, Topaz and Citrine are known to be golden in color. But there is more to each stone’s story than what meets the eye.
Topaz is the traditional birthstone of November. Topaz measures 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. It not only comes in the golden, honey color, but a wide spectrum of hues, and shades. Aside from the brownish, golden colors, it is also available in variations of blues, green, yellow, orange, red, pink and purple.
The Gemological Institute of America names several varieties below:
- Imperial Topaz known to be the most expensive because of its prized “medium, reddish-orange to orange-red color. A rare find.
- Precious Topaz or “sherry” topaz is the “yellowish brown” or “brownish yellow to orange” color resembling the color of a fine “sherry” wine.
- Blue topaz comes in a variety of shades, saturations, and hues. There is the deep tone and saturation colored blue known as “London blue” topaz, an exceptionally bright vivid blue variety named “Swiss blue” topaz and “Sky blue” topaz will have a natural, light blue color. Typically, red is the most valuable topaz color, but market and customer preferences drive these prices. The demand will vary from country to country.
There are two schools of thought on where the name Topaz came from. Most believe the name Topaz is derived from the ancient Greek name for an island in the Red Sea called “Topazios”, which today is called Zabargad. There is no evidence topaz was ever mined or discovered on this island, but before minerals were scientifically identified, it’s possible some peridots were thought to be topaz. Some scholars believe “topaz” comes from the ancient language of India known as Sanskrit. The word “topas” or “tapaz” in Sanskrit means “fire.”
There are some interesting folklore surrounding the gemstone Topaz. Ancient Greeks believed topaz gave a person strength. Europeans during the Renaissance period (1300s-1600s) believed topaz could “break magic spells and dispel anger.” In India, many people believe wearing topaz above the heart will grant the wearer a long life, beauty and intelligence.
The other option for a November birthstone is Citrine. Citrine is actually the clear to yellow variety in the quartz family. It measures a 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. Its name is derived from the Latin word “citrus” meaning “citron”, which is a fruit much like the lemon. Citrine has become more popularly known as the birthstone for November, probably because it is more common and much less expensive.
A natural citrine is rare. Natural citrine receives the golden color when the element of iron is present in the quartz crystal. The majority of citrine available in the market is heat treated Brazilian Amethyst or some Smoky Quartz. The majority of heat treated citrine will have a reddish tint in the stone.
The lore that follows citrine is believers have long “treasured citrine as a gift from the sun”. Centuries ago, it was believed that carrying citrine on your person would “protect you from snake venom and evil thoughts.”
Regardless of which birthstone you choose to own, it all comes down to a matter of style, favorite color and budget. The options for topaz and citrine are endless.
At Jonathan’s Jewelers we offer a variety of set jewelry and loose gemstones from which you can select.
Gemological Institute of America
American Gem Society
Gemstones of the World, by Walter Schumann