As the days begin to shorten, the air grows cooler, and we start to make plans for the upcoming holidays, those with a November birthday have two bright and cheerful birthstone varieties to choose from. Citrine is the most accepted November gemstone, though topaz offers an exceptional alternative. Traditionally, both birthstones will have a yellow to brownish hue. However, the abundance of colors that topaz can possess allow for creative variation from the usual. Selecting the exact citrine or topaz gemstone to celebrate your birth or other special November event can seem daunting. Fortunately, both November gems are both striking and affordable. Both selections have a rich history, and unique characteristics to enjoy. It is helpful to note some subtle differences, as citrine and yellow topaz can occasionally be confused for one another.

Citrine has been celebrated as an object of beauty since ancient times. A yellow variety of quartz, it ranges in hues from yellow to dark orange. Its name is believed to come from the French word “citron”, meaning “lemon”, and is believed to provide the wearer with a sense of positivity and joy. Some believe it allows one to harness the light and sunshine within. Others called citrine “The Merchant’s Stone” believing it would bring prosperity when kept in one’s cash register. Greek and Roman civilizations also revered the gem and used it extensively in their jewelry. Citrine embodies light, happiness and positive feelings, and continues to uplift us now as it has for generations.

Naturally occurring citrine is most often mined in places such as Bolivia, Spain, and Madagascar. However, relatively little citrine is mined today. Natural citrines tend to be on the lighter end of the color spectrum and are quite rare. Most commonly, citrine jewelry today consists of heat-treated amethyst or smoky quartz, which transforms into the rich honey-dipped gemstones popular today. Citrine is a harder gem, rating a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. It also offers durability allowing for normal daily wear. Cleaning should be done with warm, soapy water. Ultrasonic cleaners may be used, however, be mindful of high heat or steam as it can cause the gem to crack.

Though topaz comes in a vast range of colors, the yellow topaz is the most common alternative for November’s birthstone. Like citrine, it has been appreciated and used in adornments since ancient times. It was believed to carry many benefits throughout many cultures. In India, it was believed that when worn above the heart, topaz would assist in living longer, increasing personal beauty, and improving one’s intelligence. During the Renaissance period in Europe, it was believed to dissipate anger and deflect magical spells. Topaz can be found in large, flawless crystals, allowing for larger carat pieces than some other gemstones. In fact, some of the largest gemstones in carat weight ever cut have been topaz. Because of its color range, caused by natural trace impurities, or defects in the crystal structure, they are highly popular as fashion pieces.

Topaz is a silicate mineral containing aluminum and fluorine, generally surface mined, that is commonly found in Brazil, Pakistan, Africa, Mexico, and the United States. Topaz can be treated with heat or irradiation to enhance the gems. “Mystic Topaz” for example, is created when colorless topaz is treated and coated to create the magical effect. Topaz is also hard, having a rating of 8 on the Mohs scale. However, hardness does not always equate to toughness, and care is needed to avoid cracking or chipping your topaz. Steam and ultrasonic cleaners should be avoided, as well as high heat or drastic changes in temperature. These can cause internal breaks. Chemicals should also be avoided.

Those who are fortunate enough to have a November birthday have two incredible gemstones to choose from, and a phenomenal range of colors for the non-traditionalist. Being clear and typically bright gemstones, both citrine and topaz bring joy and cheerfulness to the wearer. They are also popular among those who were born any time of year because of their beauty and versatility. Pink topaz, for example, is even an alternative birthstone for October. Equally breathtaking in rings, pendants, bracelets, or whatever piece you’ve been looking for, Paffrath and Son Jewelers in Willmar, MN will either have it, or can create the custom piece of your dreams. We wish all our friends celebrating a birthday this month to have a very special day, and we invite you to stop by and commemorate your birth with a new piece of jewelry.

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