Individuals born in November can choose between two sunny gemstones to brighten up this chilly month. November’s birthstones, topaz, and citrine are both known for their calming energies, bringing warmth and fortune to those who wear them.
Topaz and citrine look so similar, in fact, that they’ve often been mistaken for one another throughout history. They are actually unrelated minerals, and topaz occurs in a wide spectrum of colors far beyond yellow.
Both of November’s birthstones are fairly abundant and affordably priced, even in large sizes, which means everyone can find a way to fit topaz and citrine into their budget.
HOW TO BUY TOPAZ
Topaz is a traditional gift for those with November birthdays. It’s also given to celebrate 19th wedding anniversaries, and certain types (blue and Imperial, respectively) acknowledge 4th and 23rd wedding anniversaries, as well.
Since topaz was recognized as more than just a yellow gem, it has become fairly common and therefore rather inexpensive. It can be judged along the same parameters as diamonds. In fact, colorless topaz is increasingly popular as an inexpensive diamond alternative.
When buying topaz, realize that this gem is most often treated with irradiation to produce desirable colors—particularly blue. Because these processes so closely resemble how topaz forms in nature, there is practically no way to determine whether a stone has been treated.
Imperial topaz is the most highly prized for its intense reddish orange color. Yellow, orange and brown stones are more common and less expensive—although these can be treated with heat to enhance the pink and red hues.
Topaz crystals have yielded some of the largest gemstones ever cut. Mines in Brazil produced both the world’s largest cut blue topaz (the “Brazilian Princess,” weighing 21,327 carats) and the largest cut yellow topaz (the “American Golden Topaz,” weighing 22,892.5 carats).
In smaller sizes, this gem is fairly inexpensive. Not only is it affordable, but also available in such a wide range of colors, that it’s easy for everyone to find topaz that fits their tastes – whether or not they get to claim it as their birthstone.
Through much of history, all yellow gems were considered topaz and all topaz was thought to be yellow. Topaz is actually 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 stones 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, ranging in color from brownish orange to yellow, 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 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 rather hard and durable gem. It's perfect cleavage can make it prone to chipping or cracking, but when cut correctly, topaz makes very wearable jewelry.
Topaz is a soothing stone that has been said to calm tempers, cure madness and eliminate nightmares.