November's Birthstones – Topaz and Citrine

November is another month with two lovely birthstones. The traditional birthstone for November is Topaz, while the modern November birthstone, Citrine, was added in 1912. If you were born in November find out what magical superstitions and mystical properties surround your November birthstones.

What is Topaz?

Topaz is a precious gemstone that is typically found in amber yellows, browns, or colourless, but it can also be found in an array of other pretty colours. Topaz has a phenomena known as pleochroism, meaning that the colour can change depending on the angle of the light hitting it.

You may have heard the names of different topaz variants, such as Imperial Topaz, Precious Topaz and Blue Topaz. Imperial Topaz and Precious Topaz are the same thing, and this yellow-gold topaz is the one considered the birthstone for November. Precious/Imperial Topaz is the colour of the sun, and one of the rarest variants. Occurring in shades of golden amber, with pink and red undertones, Precious Topaz is quite a hard, durable gemstone resistant to scratching, but it must be cut carefully as it can easily fracture. It's transparent, lustrous, and has very few inclusions.

Tiffany & Co.'s Gregorian Birthstone Poem, published in 1870, has this to say about November's topaz birthstone ...

Who first comes to this world below

In drear November’s fog and snow,

Should prize the topaz‘s amber hue,

Emblem of friends and lovers true.

Topaz crystals can grow surprisingly large. The current place holder as the largest cut topaz is the El Dorado Topaz, found in Brazil in 1984. When found this gemstone weighed a whopping 37kg, but after all the poor quality material was cut away and the gemstone faceted, the end result was a stunning golden topaz weighing in at 6.2kg.

What is Citrine?

Citrine is a beautiful pale yellow-green to amber-yellow gemstone that has often been confused with topaz throughout history, but the two are from distinctly different mineral families. Topaz is a silicate whereas citrine is a type of quartz, just like amethyst, and found in many of the same locations as amethyst. Perhaps it is the centuries old confusion between the two that led to them both being considered the birthstones of November?

In the mid-18th century scientists discovered that by heat treating amethysts they could change the colour of the gemstone to citrine yellow, and when huge amethyst deposits were found in South America it lead to production of vast amounts of heat treated citrine, which lowered the market price and made both amethyst and citrine more widely affordable.

True citrine (i.e. not heat treated amethyst) is mainly found in Spain and central America.

What does Topaz symbolise?

Topaz symbolises consistency, faithfulness and friendship.

What does Citrine symbolise?

Citrine symbolises wealth and success.

Topaz healing powers*

Topaz is said to soothe the mind and calm tempers. It is also said to ease breathing problems and stimulate metabolism. When ground into a powder and drunk with water, topaz was thought to eliminate nightmares and ensure a relaxing sleep.

A 12th century prescription for curing 'dimness of the eyes' called for a topaz to be soaked in wine for three days and then rubbed upon the patient's eye.

During the time of the great European plague, wealthy people would attempt to cure the plague by wearing a topaz against their skin. Wearing topaz is thought to alleviate depression and dark moods, and be an excellent source of healing for those suffering shock or trauma.

Citrine healing powers*

Citrine encourages positivity and can calm the anxious voice in your head. Citrine is thought to give off a relaxing warmth, soothing both mind and body and bringing clarity of thought.

*NOTE: Any medical 'advice' contained in these articles is not to be taken as proven. It is merely based on historic superstition and belief. If you are suffering any worrying symptoms, please seek the help of your doctor or trained medical professional before seeking the help of a gemstone!

Topaz superstitions and beliefs

In Europe during the Renaissance period, wearing topaz was thought to break harmful spells aimed at you, especially if the topaz was set in gold and worn on the left side of the body.

Dreaming of topaz means that a problem you are struggling with will soon be resolved.

Ancient Greeks thought topaz could render the wearer 'invisible' – not literally, but in terms of being able to pass unnoticed through a crowd or group of people, making it the ideal stone for spies and thieves.

Topaz is a stone of fire, thought by Ancient Romans and Egyptians to be a gift from the Sun God. As such, having topaz in the home is said to protect against fire.

Citrine superstitions and beliefs

Wearing citrine is thought to attract wealth, and it can also spark imagination and creativity – perfect for entrepreneurs!

In the middle ages, travellers would wear Citrine to repel venomous snakes.

Place a citrine stone in the far left corner of your home from the entrance (the wealth corner) or in your purse or money box to attract abundant wealth.

Topaz in history

Imperial topaz, mined in the Ural mountains in Russia, was named for the Russian Tsar, and only members of the royal family were allowed to own it.

King Henry III of England believed in the superstitious powers of gemstones and when faced with political upheaval and fighting to retain his crown between 1261 and 1264, he removed a large topaz from his stores, had it mounted in gold, and kept it with him at all times to promote clarity of thought and ease his troubled mind.

Citrine in history

Ancient Greeks would carve images into citrine gemstones to attract wealth and abundance. A citrine bearing the carved image of an eagle is thought to attract the favours of those in positions of power.

Before the distinction between topaz and citrine was realised, citrine was also known as Golden Topaz, Madeira Topaz or Spanish Topaz.

Citrine saw a surge in popularity during the art deco period (1920s and 1930s), when large citrine gems were set into elaborate jewellery pieces.

Scottish warriors in the 17th and 18th century would fit a citrine gemstone into the handle of their swords and knives for luck in battle.

Were you born in November?

People born in November are loyal friends and unique thinkers. They're hard working and good looking and always seem to find themselves the centre of attention, even though they do value and require their 'alone time'. Their creative mind leads to them taking an unusual approach to certain tasks, but they get the job done. They can be quite sensitive and soft in nature and will fight against injustice. Does that sound like you?

Image Attributions: Citrine and Silver ring by Mauro Cateb [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Next week: "Gemology: Gemstones Beginning with V". Discover the surprisingly many gemstones beginning with V in our continuing gemology guide.

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