“Who first comes to this world below
With drear November’s fog and snow,
Should prize the topaz’s amber hue,
Emblem of friends and lovers true.”
Above is the November birthstone poem included in Tiffany & Co’s pamphlet from 1870, “of unknown author”. So the traditional birthstone for November is the Topaz, however, the Citrine is considered November’s contemporary birthstone, as it is more reasonably priced and also more easily available than the topaz.
The topaz was given its name by the Romans, who discovered the stone on a small island in the Red Sea called Topazos. Just to make things a bit more confusing; they also found the citrine on this very island, and I can assure you that these two gemstones can be very difficult to tell apart! As history would have it, the topaz spent the rest of its life getting confused and mixed up with other gemstones, and most often with the citrine, as the two stones are very similar in colour – their shape and form are however different and helps us to tell them apart.
Citrine Ring ca 1960/70s, Decades of Elegance
The topaz comes in a wide range of colours – pure topaz is colourless yet with the addition of for example chromium, we get red and pink hues. The most sought after colour is a reddish orange one, called Imperial Topaz, which can resemble the exceptional Padparadscha sapphire that I have mentioned before, but that I am yet to write a blog post about. Topaz can also be found in tones of green, blue, yellow and brown – and these have all been mistaken for various other gemstones through times. As a result of all these misconceptions, the topaz has been assigned a world of different healing properties! It is associated with constancy, loyalty, faithfulness and friendship, as the poem above so beautifully points out. It is also believed to help with health problems, including curing fever, asthma and insomnia. Topaz is today found in Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and China.
The topaz was popular amongst the royals during the Middle Ages and in the 13th century it was believed that a falcon engraved into a topaz would help its wearer cultivate the goodwill of kings, princes and magnates (2).
The other birthstone for November, the citrine, is known as the “healing quartz”. It is believed to support vitality and health while encouraging and guiding hope, energy and warmth within the wearer (3). We can find the citrine in a wide range of colours; from pastel yellow to dark brownish orange and it is most frequently found in Brazil, Bolivia, and Spain. There are so many wonderful things to say about the citrine, as it is known in crystal work as a success and prosperity stone – to the point that it is called the “Success Stone”! (4)
(1) Birthday Gems
(3) American Gem Society – Citrine
(4) Crystal and Jewelry