Hello November babies and lovers of all things citrine and topaz! That’s right, another lucky month with TWO birthstone choices! Let’s hop to it and learn more about these gorgeous gemstones.
What is Citrine?
Citrine is not only one of November’s birthstones, it is also the anniversary gemstone for YEAR 13!
Citrine is the variety of quartz that ranges from pale yellow to brownish orange in color. It takes its name from the citron fruit because of these lemon-inspired shades. 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—usually the more common, less expensive purple amethyst and smoky quartz—to produce golden gems.
In the days before modern gemology, its tawny color caused it to be confused with topaz. Today, its attractive color, plus the durability and affordability it shares with most other quartzes, makes it the top-selling yellow-to-orange gem. In the contemporary market, citrine’s most popular shade is an earthy, deep, brownish or reddish orange.
Citrine is sometimes known as the “healing quartz” for its ability to comfort, soothe, and calm. It can release negative feelings, spark imagination and manifest fresh beginnings. It’s even called the “merchant’s stone” for its tendency to attract wealth and prosperity. Source: www.americangemsociety.org
Where is Citrine Found?
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.
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—contributing 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.
How to Buy Citrine
Citrine can be evaluated by the same factors as diamonds – color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. Because the majority of citrine gems on the market have been heat treated—and because it takes an expert to detect these enhancements—it’s wise to shop with an AGS jeweler (like Bremer Jewelery) to help you choose the best gem!
Color: The finest citrine gems are saturated with yellow, orange and reddish hues, while stones of lower value appear pale or smoky. Earth-tones of amber brown are also increasingly popular. Because these colors are rare in nature, most citrine is created by heating less expensive varieties of quartz, including amethyst and smoky quartz, to produce yellow gems.
Cut: Citrine may be carved, custom-cut, or calibrated for jewelry use.
Clarity: Eye-visible inclusions are not common in citrine. If present, they decrease its value.
Carat weight: Citrine is readily available in sizes up to 20 carats—and, because its price doesn’t rise exponentially with carat weight, big gems are relatively inexpensive.
How to Care for Citrine Jewelry
Citrine rates a 7 on the Mohs scale and has good toughness, so it is suitable for all jewelry types. This includes rings as long as the wearer understands its limited hardness.
Abrupt temperature changes can cause citrine to fracture. Some citrine color can fade with prolonged exposure to intense light. Citrine can also be damaged by hydrofluoric acid, ammonium fluoride, and alkaline solutions
What is Topaz?
Check out the raw topaz above and compare it to the raw citrine at the top of this post. It’s easy to see how these pale yellow stones have been easily confused throughout history! Citrine (quartz family) and topaz are actually unrelated mineral species. Topaz belongs to the silicate mineral family, not quartz. Before these differences were clear, many cultures called citrine (the yellow variety of quartz) by other names like gold topaz, Madeira or Spanish topaz—contributing to the confusion.
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!
Topaz also happens to be the anniversary gemstone for YEAR 4, so if it’s not your birthstone, you can wishlist some gorgeous topaz jewelry for your 4th wedding anniversary!
Where is Topaz found?
Common Topaz is found worldwide, but most important deposits for gem-quality Topaz are in Brazil, Nigeria and Russia. Gem quality Topaz is also mined in Australia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Myanmar, Pakistan, Scotland, Sri Lanka, and the United States (California, Colorado, and Texas).
Ancient texts from the Greek scholar Pliny to the King James Bible referenced topaz, but because of this longstanding confusion, they likely referred to other yellow stones instead.
During the Renaissance in Europe, people believed that topaz could break spells and quell anger. Hindus deemed topaz sacred, believing that a pendant could bring wisdom and longevity to one’s life. African shamans also treated the stone as sacred, using it in their healing rituals.
Russia’s Ural Mountains became a leading source of topaz in the 19th century. The prized pinkish orange gemstone mined there was named Imperial topaz to honor the Russian czar, and only royals were allowed to own it.
Since the discovery of large topaz deposits in Brazil in the mid-19th century, topaz has become much more affordable and widely available. Processes were developed in the 1960s to turn common colorless topaz blue with irradiation treatment. This variety has since flooded the market, making it one of the least expensive gems available.
Light blue varieties of topaz can be found in Texas, though not commercially mined there. Blue topaz became an official gemstone of Texas in 1969—the same year Utah adopted topaz as its state gemstone. Source: www.americangemsociety.org
Topaz is a soothing stone that has been said to calm tempers, cure madness and eliminate nightmares.
How to Buy Topaz
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. Visit an AGS jeweler who can help you select a quality gem.
Color: 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.
Cut: The way a gemstone is cut can have a dramatic effect on its face-up color. Topaz is an extremely versatile gemstone. It can be cut in various cutting styles like oval, pear, round, emerald, cushion, triangle, and marquise. Even fancy shapes and designer cuts fashioned by hand and/or machine are very popular. A well cut topaz reflects a large amount of light off its facets. Just like diamonds, topaz has a perfect cleavage hence has a magnificent sparkle. A poorly cut topaz will not reflect light well and will also have a dull look.
Clarity: Faceted blue topaz is almost always free of eye visible inclusions. Other more rare colors like imperial and pink may show inclusions more often and still be valuable due to the color’s rarity.
Carat weight: Blue topaz rises very little in per carat price as the size increases. Imperial topaz on the other hand rises in per carat price dramatically as size increases. In smaller sizes, most topaz is fairly inexpensive.
How To Care for Your Topaz Jewelry
Measuring 8 on the Mohs scale, topaz is a rather hard and durable gem. Its perfect cleavage can make it prone to chipping or cracking, but when cut correctly, topaz makes very wearable jewelry. Since most topaz is treated, special care has to be taken when cleaning it. Try to avoid wearing topaz gemstone jewelry when applying makeup, using household cleaners, exercising, or in situations where sweat and dirt could accumulate on the jewelry. It should be protected from exposure to sun or to other kind of heat. The best way to clean topaz is with warm soapy water and a soft cloth to wipe it. We do not recommend ultrasonic cleaner and steamers for this gemstone. Store it separately in a soft cloth in order to avoid scratches.