Individuals born in November can choose between two sunny gemstones to brighten up this chilly month.
Topaz and citrine look so similar, in fact, that they've often been mistaken for one another throughout history. They are unrelated minerals, and topaz occurs in a wide spectrum of colors far beyond yellow.
Both of November's birthstones are abundant and affordably priced, even in large sizes, which means everyone can find a way to fit topaz and citrine into their budget.
TOPAZ BIRTHSTONE MEANING & HISTORY
The variety of topaz hues includes colorless, light blue, yellow, orange, pink, violet, brown and, very rarely, red. The vast majority of blue topaz seen today is the permanent result of treating colorless topaz with irradiation and heating. The rainbow effect seen in “Mystic Topaz” is created by coating colorless topaz with a thin artificial film.
Some believe the word “topaz” comes from the Sanskrit word tapas, which means “fire.” Others trace it back to the Greek topazos. This November birthstone was long thought to have many benefits. The ancient Greeks believed that topaz gave them strength. From the 1300s to the 1600s, Europeans thought it could thwart magic spells and dispel anger. For centuries, many people in India have believed that topaz worn above the heart assures long life, beauty and intelligence.
The distinctly pinkish orange Imperial topaz has aristocratic cachet. It is commonly believed that the name originated with the Russian royal family’s insistence on keeping the finest colors of this gem, which was mined in Russia’s Ural Mountains, exclusively for their use. An alternate explanation, especially popular in Brazil, is that it dates from an 1881 visit by Brazilian Emperor Pedro II to Ouro Preto—the town closest to Brazil’s most productive topaz mines–and the gift of a reddish topaz to him.
Blue topaz is the gem of the fourth wedding anniversary, and Imperial topaz is the gem of the 23rd wedding anniversary.
This November birthstone is the transparent yellow to brownish orange variety of quartz, which has been used in jewelry for thousands of years. Citrine has been a popular gemstone since ancient times and has shared a history of mistaken identities with the other November birthstone, topaz. As a result, people thought citrine had the same powers as topaz. They believed the citrine birthstone could soothe tempers and calm the wearer.
The ancient Greeks carved rock crystal ornaments that glistened like permafrost. Roman pontiffs wore rings set with massive purple amethysts, and citrine has been reported in Roman jewelry. It was particularly popular in colorful Scottish jewelry from the Victorian era. Citrine, believed to derive from the French word for “lemon” (citron), is given for the thirteenth wedding anniversary.
Today, most of the citrine in the marketplace results from the heat treatment of amethyst. With its ready availability in a broad range of sizes, citrine birthstone is one of the most affordable and desired yellow gemstones.
CITRINE BIRTHSTONE CARE & CLEANING
At 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness with good toughness, your citrine birthstone is usually durable enough for normal wear and care. It can be safely cleaned with warm, soapy water. While it is usually okay to clean your November birthstone in an ultrasonic machine, steam cleaning is risky since high heat could cause the stone to crack.