November Birthstones: Citrine and Topaz

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It’s November, which means this is the month to bring out your citrine and topaz! People who are born during the month of November are able to choose between either of these gemstones to add a touch of color and brightness to what is otherwise a gray, chilly month in many areas. These stones are beloved for their warmth and calming energy.

It’s fitting that the two are both November birthstones—they are often mistaken for each other, despite being completely unrelated minerals. They look very similar in many circumstances, though topaz has a much wider spectrum of colors than citrine does.

Here’s a brief overview of citrine and topaz in Sterling Heights, MI, courtesy of the team at Howard’s Fine Jewelry.


There was a long period of time where all yellow gems were classified as topaz, and all topaz was thought to be yellow. However, we have since learned that topaz comes in a wide variety of colors, and many of the stones that were first classified as topaz are not at all related to it.

The name “topaz” comes from “Topazios,” which was the ancient Greek name for St. John’s Island, located in the Red Sea. The island was famous for the yellow stones that were mined there, although ironically the stones that were pulled from the mines on the island were probably not actually true topaz.

Pure topaz is actually colorless, but its impurities tint it to take on any color you can think of. Precious topaz is generally considered to have a color range from brownish orange to yellow, and it can often be mistaken for citrine quartz or smoky quartz, even though these minerals are completely unrelated to each other. Imperial topaz is perhaps the most prized color—it features a bold orange with pink undertones. Blue topaz is becoming more common in the market, but does not frequently occur naturally—usually the blue topaz you’ll find in stores has been put through irradiation treatments.

Topaz measures an eight on the Mohs scale, which makes it hard and durable.


Citrine also comes in a wide range of colors, from pale yellow to brownish orange. This variant of quartz takes its name from the citron (or lemon) fruit, thanks to its lemony shades of yellow.

Its pale yellow color is very similar to topaz, so the confusion between the two is understandable. This yellow color exists because of traces of iron found in the crystals. This does not occur frequently in nature—most of the citrine you’ll find on the market was made with heat treatments of other types of quartz. The vast majority of citrine on the market comes from Brazil, and the different regions of the world tend to produce different hues.

Citrine comes in at a seven on the Mohs scale, making it relatively durable and capable of withstanding everyday wear and tear.

For more information about citrine and topaz in Sterling Heights, MI, contact Howard’s Fine Jewelry or visit our jewelry store today!

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