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November Birthstones - Topaz

The Meaning Behind November Birthstones

Are you a November birthday girl? You’ve really lucked out. November joins the ranks with June, October and December as a month that offers two birthstone gems. The November birthstones are Topas and Citrine. These two gemstones come in a dazzling array of brilliant colors are (in many cases) relatively affordable. Feel free to make year long innuendo about a November birthstone ring without layers of guilt!


November Birthstones

What is Topaz?

Geologists refer to Topaz as a silicate mineral because of its chemical composition. The chemical formula for this November birthstone is Al2SiO4(F,OH)2. The primary minerals inside of Topaz are aluminum and fluorine. Other well-known gemstones containing aluminum are Emerald, Dadeite, Beryl and ruby. Topaz is a clear stone however, impurities can creep into it over time to cause the various colors that offer the tints we see on the market. Inside these color schemes, you might find Imperial Topaz, Orange Topaz, Blue Topaz and Mystic Topaz.

Colorless topaz is often heated to create the common blue gems you are familiar with (most blue topaz isn’t natural—the color is created through treatment). The most valuable and expensive shades of topaz in the world, are deep orange with pink undertones called Imperial topaz. Imperial Topaz is named after the Russian czars of the 19th century.

Early References & The Meaning of Topaz

The topaz birthstone symbolizes love and affection. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, it is said to bestow strength and intelligence on the person who wears it. A gift of blue topaz is said to be a promise of love and fidelity.

There are a number of early references to the topaz gemstone throughout our world history. During the middle ages the term “topaz” was used to refer to a yellow tinted gemstone. Before the Middle Ages however, mention of the topaz gemstone was made in the Bible (according to the modern translations). Just one of these mentions of topaz in the Bible is said to be found in the book of Exodus 28:17.


November Birthstones

Topaz at its Root

The name “Topaz” has a number of potential roots. “Topaz” comes from the old French word Topace, which is derived from the Latin word Topazus. The Latin word Topazus comes from the Greek work Topazios or Topazion. There you go! a name utilized to refer to the St. John Island located within the Red Sea. This island proved particularly difficult to find but once it was located a yellow stone similar to the topaz but actually understood now to be Chrysolite or yellow olivine, was mined. At the time of its discovery the gemstone topaz was not officially identified. This concept is repeated in the legend that says Pliny the elder identified the first mining of topaz on the legendary Red Sea Island.

Topazion is a name that referred to the St. John Island located within the Red Sea. A difficult island to find, but once discovered a yellow stone by the name of Chrysolite or “yellow Olivine” was mined on it – a gemstone once believed to be Topaz. At the original time of its discovery the gemstone topaz was not officially identified. Alternately, there are other individuals that believe that the word topaz comes from the Arabic word that translates to mean “the subject of the search.” Others (more spiritually invested) still believe that the word topaz derives from the Sanskrit word tapas, which translates to “fire” or “heat”. 

Tell me any word and I’ll tell you how the root of that word is Greek! Mr. Portakalos sums it up best…

What is Citrine?

Citrine is a quartz gemstone often found in golden shades. These shades range from pale yellow to deep brownish-orange. Citrine makes a very good choice if you want an eye-catching ring or pendant with a larger gemstone that is affordable. Citrine appears frequently in Art Deco engagement rings.

According to the American Gem Society, “November’s second birthstone, citrine, 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 on the market is made by heat treating other varieties of quartz.

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 creatively durable against scratches and everyday wear-and-tear. This makes it a lovely option for large, wearable jewelry.”

Citrine is also known as the “healing quartz”. Legend has it that citrine promotes vitality and energy inside of whomever wears it. According to the Chinese feng shui philosophy, citrine creates wealth, abundance, and prosperity. Now… we can’t guarantee these attributes with purchase however, we do think either of the November Birthstones will make excellent love offerings.

November Birthstones

History of Citrine

Citrine quartz has been adored since ancient times. The name citrine was used to refer to yellow gems as early as 1385. This is when the word Citrine was first recorded in English. However, since the gem’s color closely resembled topaz, these two November birthstones shared a history of mistaken identities.

Quartz and topaz are actually unrelated mineral species. But before these differences were clear, many cultures called citrine (the yellow variety of quartz) by other names like gold topaz, Madeira or Spanish topaz, which contributed to the confusion. Throughout history, people believed that citrine carried the same powers as topaz, including the ability to calm tempers, soothe anger and manifest desires, especially prosperity. To leverage these powers, Egyptians used citrine gems as talismans, the ancient Greeks carved iconic images into them, and Roman priests fashioned them into rings.

A key discovery gave citrine a boost of popularity in the mid-18th century. Mineralogists realized that amethyst and smoky quartz could be heat treated to produce lemony and golden honey hues of citrine, contributing to an abundance of affordable enhanced gems on the market. Once citrine was distinguished from topaz, it quickly became popular in women’s jewelry as well as men’s cufflinks and rings. Today, it remains one of the most affordable and frequently purchased yellow gemstones.

Source: American Gem Society

Citrine at its Root

An original reference point for the citrine color was citron fruit. The word was borrowed from a medieval Latin and classical Latin word with the same meaning. In late medieval and early modern English, the citrine color-name was applied in a wider variety of contexts than it is today and could be “reddish or brownish yellow; or orange; or amber (distinguished from yellow)”. In today’s English language, citrine as a color is mostly confined to the contexts of gemstones (including quartz) and in some animal and plant names.

But where originates its root? Well… Citrine honors Demeter, the Greek Goddess of the Harvest. She fills the fields with grain and brings an end to the wintertime. Citrine also honors Sekhmet, the Egyptian Goddess of War. She is the most powerful goddess of Lower Egypt. and is usually depicted with the head of a lion and the body of a beautiful woman.

Ironically, all crystals of gold honor Persephone. Persephone is the Greek Goddess of Spring. She represents celebration, rebirth, and life on earth. We’re not historians – we’re only Minneapolis Jewelers. But Mr. Portakalos will probably tell us that Citrine is GREEK!

The November Birthstones

Both of the November birthstones have a royal advocate. The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has a love affair with our November gems. Kate Middleton’s engagement photos with Prince William give a glimpse of her pavé drop earrings which one may assume to be diamonds. They were however, actually made of White Topaz (a “Hope Egg” design by Links of London at $475). The Duchess also owns a pair of white topaz and blue topaz earrings by McDonough.  We think topaz and citrine are a perfect fit with the Duchess’s down-to-earth elegance, because they’re nearly as dazzling as precious gems but without the precious price tag.

Though the Duchess was born under Garnet, it’s possible she realizes the January Birthstone just isn’t her jam. The subdued elegance of Topaz and Citrine seem to fit her personal style to a “T”.

Contact Us

Contact Gittelson Jewelers for all of your Topaz and Citrine needs. Check out our birthstone jewelry guide, for more information.

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