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.
Through much of history, all yellow gemstones were considered topaz and all "topaz" was thought to be yellow. Topaz is available in many colors, and it’s likely not even related to the stones that first donned its name. The name topaz derives from Topazios, the ancient Greek name for St. John’s Island in the Red Sea. Although the yellow gemstones famously mined there probably weren’t topaz, it soon became the name for most yellowish stones. Pure topaz is colorless, but it can become tinted by impurities to take on any color of the rainbow. Precious topaz ranges in color from brownish orange to yellow and is often mistaken for smoky quartz or citrine quartz, respectively—although quartz and topaz are unrelated minerals. The most prized color is Imperial topaz, which features a vibrant orange hue with pink undertones. Blue topaz, although increasingly abundant in the market, very rarely occurs naturally and is often caused by irradiation treatment. The largest producer of quality topaz gemstones is Brazil. Other sources include Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Australia, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico, and the U.S. — mainly California, Utah, and New Hampshire. Measuring 8 on the Mohs scale, topaz is a very hard and durable gemstone. Its perfect cleavage can make it prone to chipping or cracking, but when cut correctly, topaz makes very wearable and durable jewelry.
November’s second birthstone, citrine, is a variety of quartz that ranges from pale yellow to a honey orange color. It takes its name from the citron fruit because of these lemon inspired shades. The pale yellow color of citrine closely resembles topaz, which explains why November’s two birthstones have been so easily confused throughout history. Citrine’s yellow hues are caused by traces of iron in quartz crystals. This occurs rarely in nature, so most citrine gems on the market are made by heat treating other varieties of quartz—usually the more common, less expensive purple amethyst and smoky quartz to produce golden gemstones. Brazil is the largest supplier of citrine. Other sources include Spain, Bolivia, France, Russia, Madagascar and the U.S. (Colorado, North Carolina and California). Different geographies yield different shades of citrine. With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, citrine is very durable against scratches and everyday wear-and-tear—making it a lovely option for large, wearable jewelry.