Monday, November 18, 2013

Gemstone Feature: Citrine & Topaz (Updated)

The golden yellow gemstone is Citrine

November's traditional birthstone is Citrine while the modern birthstone is Topaz.  Although nearly impossible to tell citrine from yellow topaz, there are differences, including their mineral species.


Citrine is a quartz variety varying in color from pale yellow to a dark orange-brown. Quartz is the
Cubes of the golden citrine at top and middle
second most abundant mineral in the earth's crust with hardness on a Moh's scale of 7. Natural (yellow) citrine is rare, therefore most citrine is amethyst or smokey quartz that has been heat-treated. Hence, most citrine on the market is this type.

Its name is derived from the Latin "citrina" meaning "yellow." The original reference point for the citrine color was the citron fruit, a fragrant citrus from Asia.  Citrine was first recorded as a color in 1386. 
Brazil, Bolivia and Spain are noted as the best producers of citrine.

Popular for thousands of years citrine was revered for its rarity. Citrine was used as a gem in Greece as far back as 300 B.C.  Romans used citrine for jewelry and intaglio work. It was also used extensively in19th century jewelry.  In the Art Deco period, large gems were prized and elaborate pieces were made for Hollywood stars.

The stone is not considered rare anymore and thus has little to do with opulence and luxury nowadays. Its abundance lends to getting a lot of gemstone for your money, and the ability to expand your wardrobe with very affordable pieces of jewelry.

(Blue topaz gemstone teardrop on left)


Topaz is a gemstone that is available in a rainbow of colors.  Pure topaz, without impurities, is colorless.  Topaz colors include white, yellow, pink (rare), purple, blue, green and orange. Once upon a time, all yellow gems were called topaz, and often confused with citrine and smokey quartz. The topaz color most prized is Imperial Topaz, named after the Russian Czars of the 1800s.  It has a full bodied orange color with pink undertones. The orange topaz is the November birthstone.

Its name is from the French Topace and Latin Topazus from the Greek Topazios, the ancient name of St. John's Island in the Red Sea.  A yellow stone (believed now to be chrysolite) was mined there in ancient times.  Pliny said that Topazos is a legendary island in the Red Sea and the mineral "topaz" was first mined there.  The word topaz is related to the word tapas meaning "heat" or "fire" and also to the Hebrew word for "orange" (i.e. the fruit) tapooz, both which predate the Greek word.

Topaz Crystal on the left.

Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminum. It is a "defining" gem on the Moh's Scale with a hardness of 8.  As a defining gem it embodies the characteristic of a number 8 hardness on this scale to which other gemstones are measured.  It is found in a variety places.  Most notably Utah, United States, but also is plenteous in the Ilmen mountains of Russia as well as Germany, Pakistan, Italy, Sweden, Japan, Brazil and Australia to name a few.

Brazilian pegmatite's of clear topaz crystals can reach boulder size weighing hundreds of pounds.  Some of these can be seen in museum collections.  The Topaz of Aurangzel measured 157.75 carats while the American Golden Topaz, discovered more recently, measured a whopping 22,892.5 carats.

Cliptomania®, an Internet store, selling 100s of clip earring styles including gemstone & crystal earrings including citrine and topaz.  Use our Advanced Search feature and find specific earrings according to your filter preferences.