Citrine & Topaz: November Birthstones

Citrine - one of the most popular yellow gems on the market - is a yellow to orange variety of quartz.

For a long time, Citrine and Topaz were considered the same stone because the colors are similar and they were both found on Topazios, an island in the Red Sea. However, in 1556, Georg Bauer - German metallurgist and father of modern mineralogy - published an article and classified the Yellow Quartz as “Citrine.” The stone has long been associated with inner peace and spirituality. Hindu and Buddhist monks wear robes of this color as a part of their spiritual practice. The name Citrine is derived from the citron fruit, a yellow fruit like the lemon.

Citrine can be difficult to distinguish from yellow and orange Topaz or from yellow Sapphire and is therefore  a popular alternative for the above stones. In fact, it is the top-selling yellow-to-orange gem. Its most popular shade is an earthy, brownish or reddish orange. However, the finest Citrine color is a saturated yellow to reddish orange free of brownish tints – showing off the warm glow of citrine’s sunny color. 

Brazil is the largest producer of Citrine. Some other sources are Madagascar, Argentina, Russia, Namibia & Zaire. Citrine occurs in sizes from very small to 20 carats and is used in jewelry making as well as carvings.

Today, most Citrine on the gem market is produced by heat treating Amethyst to achieve Citrine’s sunny hues. Most heat-treated Citrine takes on a deep orange or slightly reddish tint. In general, the deeper colored stones are the most valuable, including those with reddish tints. Lightly colored yellow Citrine can occur naturally but is rare; the intense yellow form is usually irradiated and given the trade name of "Lemon Quartz". A natural mixture of purple Amethyst and golden Citrine has been coined with name "Ametrine".


Natural Topaz is a golden brown to yellow in color and therefore it is sometimes confused with Citrine. Topaz is a popular stone because of its variety of colors and brilliance. It comes in yellow, orange, pink, red, purple, pink and blue colors. The most affordable and frequently purchased is blue topaz.

Yellow Topaz (sometimes called "golden topaz"), pink (rare, if natural) or pink-orange, together are classified as Imperial topaz. Many brown or pale topazes are treated to make them bright yellow, gold, pink, blue or violet colored.

Orange topaz, also known as precious topaz, is the symbol of friendship.

Topaz is also known for its hardness. It has a hardness of 8 on the Mohs scale which makes it the hardest silicate mineral. Because of its hardness, transparency of colors and the variety of colors Topaz is a preferred stone for jewelry as a cut gemstone.

Brazil is one of the largest producers of topaz. Some clear topaz crystals from Brazilian mines can reach boulder size and weigh hundreds of pounds. The largest faceted stone in the world - The El-Dorado Topaz  - weighs 31,000 carats (13.6 pounds). Pakistan is a source of pink, red and violet topaz, while Sri Lanka is an important source of colorless topaz. Other sources of topaz include Australia, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Russia and Zimbabwe. In the United States, some topaz is produced in Utah, where it was named the state gemstone in 1969.