November is another month that has more than one birthstone to choose from: topaz and citrine. In the time before modern gemological analysis made it possible to distinguish between similarly colored gemstones, these golden stones were frequently mistaken for one another. While each is a beautiful and affordable addition to your jewelry collection, there are differences worth noting before you make a choice.
Topaz has been used as a gemstone since the classical era. Its name is thought to derive either from the word Topazios, the ancient Greek name for the island Zabargad, or the Sanskrit word “topas,” for “heat” or “fire.” Topaz is a silicate mineral with a Mohs hardness of 8 (the hardest of any silicon-based mineral), which makes it suitable for use in any type of jewelry. It is also pleochroic, which means it displays different colors in different crystal directions.
While topaz in its natural state is golden-brown to yellow, it can take on a variety of different colors (such as red, pale green, pink, or blue) from impurities or heat or radiation treatments. Blue topaz is a popular alternative to sapphires, due to its relatively affordable price. Topaz gemstones are usually free of visible inclusions or flaws, and they are often found in emerald or oval cuts that take advantage of the naturally elongated crystal shape of the mineral. The most important factor in a topaz’s value is its color. Highly saturated color is more prized, and the rarer the hue, the more valuable the stone.
Citrine, a pale yellow to brownish orange mineral, has been used as a gemstone since 300 B.C. It is a variety of quartz that gets its color from trace amounts of iron. Its Mohs hardness of 7 makes it durable enough to use in most types of jewelry, even rings. It was particularly popular in Victorian times and in the Art Deco period. Its name comes from the French word “citron,” which means “lemon.”
The color of citrine ranges from a pale yellow to a brownish orange. Natural citrines—i.e., those that have not been treated in any way to change or enhance their hue—are becoming rare. Many citrines on the market are heat-treated amethysts (another gemstone form of quartz). This treatment is common, permanent, and stable.
Like topaz, citrine is widely available without any eye-visible inclusions—any such flaws would reduce the value of a stone significantly. Color is key to a citrine’s value, with the finest stones exhibiting a rich saturated yellow to reddish-orange color free of brown tones. Even larger stones tend not to be marked up significantly on a per-carat basis, making them a good choice for bold jewelry designs.
Auction King regularly stocks topaz and citrine necklaces, pendants, rings, and more. Our live online auction format allows you to bid on items from the comfort of your own home, obtaining quality jewelry at below-market values. Sign up for a free online account to get started!