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The November Birthstone

Learn more about topaz and citrine: the birthstones for November

The idea of a different gemstone representing each month of the year dates back to Biblical times. The Jewish historian Josephus made a record of Aaron from the Book of Exodus wearing a breastplate decorated by twelve stones all the way back in the first century. We will be exploring the properties and traditions of each stone monthly on Facet. In November, there are two stones identified by the American Gem Society: topaz and citrine.

Curious about the stones that represent other months?

Peridots and sardonyx represent August: Check it out here

Sapphires for September: they ward off evil!

The kaleidoscopic stone for October is the opal 

citrine crystal
Citrine or topaz? Can you tell them apart?

Topaz is a stone that is actually colorless, but can be tinted by natural or human means, usually via heat or irradiation. Visually, it resembles quartz, but the two minerals do not have a similar composition. Topaz is very hard and durable, measuring an 8 on the Mohs scale, which makes it a great choice for jewelry that gets a bit of wear-and-tear (like a ring). But because it has a property knows as "perfect cleavage," it can be prone to breakage if not cut and faceted carefully. 

Imperial topaz is a stone that has naturally formed in a yellow-orange color. It was so popular throughout history that the word "topaz" came into common usage to describe all yellow-colored stones. But this particular variety of stone, highly prized as a gemstone, usually comes from Brazil.

Other variety of topaz are mined around the world on almost every continent, from the European mountains of Russia and Germany to Burma and China, Pakistan, Nigeria and South Africa, and the Tasmanian region of Australia. The stones can range from the very common colorless variety to very rare shades of pink, purple, and deep blue. 

Here in the US, topaz is mined across the country, from Utah and Colorado to Virginia and New Hampshire. Most of these stones are colorless, but with heat treatment become the vibrant blue that is also used as a November birthstone (and occasionally for December as well). 

Blue topaz is inexpensive, in ready supply, and available in stunning shades of blue. Although irradiating stones to change their color can be a controversial practice because sometimes the color change is not permanent, in the case of blue topaz, you can rely on your stone keeping its shade. 

raw citrine
True raw citrine is very rare. 

Often mistaken for Imperial topaz due to its similar color and shape, citrine is from the Quartz family and is actually a close cousin of the amethyst. Heat causes the stone to take on its color, which ranges from a light yellow to orange to brownish-orange. It forms as transparent crystals and is very rare in its natural form. At one time the Ural Mountains of Russia were a prime source of these stones, but the supply there seems to be exhausted. In Africa, natural stones are found in South Africa, Madagascar, Zaire, and the Katanga Province; in South America, they are mined in Colombia. 

So if natural citrine is so rare, how do we see it so frequently on the market? Heat treatment! The far more common amethyst and other smoky quartz relatives undergo a process whereby stones are heated to about 1600 degrees Celsius (2912 degrees Fahrenheit) until they reach the desired range of colors. This process, which originated in Hellenistic times (300-150 BC), is widely used today to produce many commercial stones. 

Placed side by side, it can be difficult to tell a citrine and a yellow topaz apart, but the citrine is softer (only a 7 on the Mohs scale).  

Both topaz and citrine are thought to share similar energies: warmth, comfort, and abundance. 

Topaz has long been considered a good stone for travelers, protecting from homesickness (as well as actual sickness, accidents, or premature death). It is said to help with sleeplessness, and improve creative inspiration.

Citrine is thought to improve interpersonal relationships, especially between family members. It is also said to be helpful for those who work with the public: salespersons, medical professionals, and bankers can especially benefit. It assists in obtaining (and maintaining!) wealth and prosperity, and encourages generosity. 

Regardless of the stone you choose to represent a November birthday, Facet has many projects to help you craft a look that is personal and full of meaning, Here's a sample: 

November Birthstone Citrine hero
The organic shape of citrine nuggets pairs harmoniously with not-too-dressy layers of matte-finish chain in this quick and easy necklace
November Birthstone Citrine
Since topaz is not readily available as beads, this necklace features citrine, which is often listed as an alternate birthstone. The heft, golden color, and unusual facets of these nuggets are gorgeous, and when combined with faceted stone buttons, rose crystals, and silver Delicas, the result is sparkly, not fussy – perfect for the cerebral Scorpio.
Prefer blue topaz as your stone of choice? We've got you covered. 
November birthstone Topaz earrings
These drop earrings are a lovely ode to blue topaz, but made with crystals, seed beads, and beading wire. For variety, use pearls or bicones instead of teardrops, make two wire loops instead of three, or play with colorful wire; just have fun with it!
November birthstone Blue topaz
This showstopper necklace uses square-cut blue topaz beads that are corner-cut. Make matching earrings, too!
And for the beader on a budget, there are some gorgeous crystal and glass alternatives that give you the color of topaz without the matching pricetag. 
November birthstone Topaz set
Highlight the beauty of topaz with three simple jewelry pieces. The delicate necklace boasts a single pendant, while the bracelet is resplendent with nugget-sized crystals. Add easy chain earrings to extend the golden glow.
November Topaz necklace and earrings
This set combines two elements that seem a natural pairing: huge smoky topaz-colored crystals and a handmade flower bead with shades of burgundy and copper. The flower has a backing that makes it lie flat while you wear it. It looks especially fetching as an off-center accent.