November is one of the few months that has two birthstones. Citrine and topaz are two different gems, offering those born in November a choice of which birthstone they’d prefer to flaunt. Many people have come to know and love citrine under the name gold topaz, or Madeira or Spanish topaz, although it has very little in common with the actual gemstone topaz, except for color. In the days before modern gemology, citrine’s golden color caused it to be confused with topaz. Therefore, the history and alleged miraculous powers of citrine is closely interwoven with topaz.
Citrine, a member of the quartz family, is named “citron,” after the French name for ‘Lemon’ because of its highly-desired distinct yellow color. Citrine is often called the “Success Stone,” due to its reputation of enhancing success and prosperity. Its beautiful yellow color is thought to radiate positive energy. Citrine’s most popular shades range from vivid yellow to earthy brown to reddish orange.
Like all crystal quartzes, citrine has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale and is relatively resistant to scratches and chipping, even if it’s knocked around.
Citrine can be found all around the world, but Brazil is the world’s leading supplier. Other notable producers of citrine include Argentina, Bolivia, France, Madagascar, Myanmar, Namibia, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Uruguay and Zambia.
Natural yellow citrine is actually quite rare and is considered more valuable than most other varieties of quartz. Most of the citrine available today is actually heat-treated to obtain its autumnal yellow-golden color. Amethysts and smoky quartzes can be transformed to look just like beautiful yellow citrines by treating them at high heat. An experienced gemologist must conduct this heat treatment, which requires carefully heating the stones to temperatures between 470 and 560 degrees. Many of the gems available in today that claim they are citrine are in fact burnt amethysts or smoky quartzes.
What’s The Difference Between Topaz and Citrine?
In the most basic, non-gemological terms: a citrine is the yellow variety of quartz, and topaz is a completely different mineral with a separate chemical structure. In chemical terms, the topaz is considerably harder and heavier than citrine (a quartz), and it has a higher refractive index, which gives it more fire (the ability of a gem to split light into the colors of the spectrum; think of the reflection when gems are moved, does the sparkle contain different colors? That’s “fire”).
Topaz gets its name from the Greek word “topazion,” which originates from the Sanskrit word tapas, which translates to “fire.” The name may have come from the name of the Egyptian island of topazos (now known as St. John’s island) in the Red Sea. Topaz was once predominantly found in these regions but is now also found in Brazil, Nigeria, Australia, Myanmar and Mexico.
Topaz is most commonly found in blue and yellow. Its color range is impressive, ranging from pale blue to colorless, to yellow, orange, brown and pink. The color of a topaz is more important than the size in determining its value. Topaz rates an 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it an excellent choice for daily wear.
Topaz is reputed to be one of the most powerful gemstones, said to have powers to balance emotions, release tension, heal ailments, balance emotions and bring joy. The topaz is also said to dispel sadness, nightmares and anger, and to protect its wearer from sudden death.
The most famous topaz is actually a colorless topaz: the “Braganza Diamond,” set in the Portuguese Crown Jewels, was originally thought to be a diamond but is in fact a 1680 carat colorless topaz.
Which gemstone do you prefer? Both citrine and topaz are durable and affordable, perfect for wearing every day or on a special occasion. They also make wonderful gifts.
Do you wear your birthstone? Ritani offers several options for both birthstones, including citrine rings or blue topaz rings, citrine or blue topaz earrings and citrine or blue topaz pendant necklaces. You can’t go wrong with either of these beautiful gemstones (whether you’re a November baby or not)!