Lucky November babies have two birthstones to choose from; Topaz and Citrine! Both gems are typically of amber hues and emit a warm light - perfect for November babies.
Let’s start with Citrine - the name is taken from the French for ‘lemon’ (citron), it is a rare semiprecious stone that comes in a rage of colours of pale yellow to a golden brown. Citrine has been recognised since the ancient times and was actually the term used to describe yellow gemstones since 1385 when the word was first recorded. In ancient times people believed citrine could calm tempers, soothe anger and manifest desires - particularly to do with prosperity. Egyptians used citrine in talismans to elevate these powers. The ancient greeks would carve iconic images onto them, this can be seen in the J.Paul Getty Museum, and the Roman priests fashioned them into rings. As well using citrine for its powers the stone was also used ornamentally during this period. The Greeks used it particularly through the Hellenistic Age between 300 and 150 B.C. In addition to this Scottish men used citrine on the handles of dangers and swords for decorative purposes. There are also records of entire sword handles being carved from citrine as well! More recently citrine grew in popularity during the Art Deco era between World War I and World War II. During this time film stars would wear oversized and elaborate jewellery. During Queen Victoria’s reign she had a particular fondness for citrine and used it to decorate her and Prince Albert’s summer residence in the mid 19th century. This then sparked a trend and many others used citrine after being inspired by Queen Victoria.
Diamond, Sapphire, Emerald, Ruby and Citrine Bracelet
Citrine is said to symbolise many things, in ancient Rome people believed that citrine could protect one from evil thoughts. Other cultures referred to the stone as the ‘merchants stone’ or the ‘money stone’ as they believed it would bring prosperity to individuals. Another name is the ‘success stone’ as many believed that it would radiate positive energy so perhaps those Scottish men knew what they were doing when they adorned their weapons in the gem!
Citrine occurs naturally but is very difficult to find. Instead many of the stones are actually heat treated quartz or amethyst. This was a key discovery which boosted the stones popularity in the mid 18th century. Experts can distinguish between a natural stone and a man made stone by looking for small lines in the crystal. Today citrine can be found in the Ural Mountains of Russia, France and Madagascar among other places. Darker colours are typically considered more rare and as a result; more valuable.
As a member of the quartz family citrine is ranked relatively hard on the MOHS Scale, scoring a 7 out of 10. Although the stone is very durable there are still some gemstones out there that are capable of scratching citrine including Topaz (our next topic) sapphire and of course diamond. To avoid damage we suggest wearing the two gemstones separately. They can be featured in the same piece of jewellery together as long as they aren’t touching. To clean citrine simply used warm water, mild soap and a gentle brush.
Cartier Meli Melo Ring with Citrine
Onto Topaz which was actually mistaken for Citrine for many years as they share the same golden autumnal hues. The most valuable colours of Topaz are the Imperial Topaz; a golden yellow, pink orange and dark pink. The name for Imperial Topaz originates from 19th century Russia where the gem was mined. The stone was named to honour the Russian czar. Ownership of the gem was restricted to the Royal family. People believe the name for Topaz comes from the island of Topazios, now named Zabargad. Topaz was never actually mined here but it was once the only source of peridot (August’s birthstone) which was confused with topaz before modern mineralogy. Some scholars trace the origin back to Sanskirt (an ancient language of India) where the word tapaz or topas meant fire. Interestingly this isn’t the only famous mix up involving the stone. In 1740 a 1,680 carat diamond was discovered in Brazil and was quickly set into Portuguese crown. Shortly after the stone was actually revealed to be a colourless topaz. Despite this mix up the gem still sits proudly on the crown today.
The ancient Greeks believed that topaz gave them strength and the ancient Egyptians believed that the sun god, Ra, created topaz’s beautiful yellow hues. As a result the stone was believed to possess multiple healing properties. Although the ancient Romans did not share the belief of Ra they did believe that the stone could protect one from poison. A popular ancient roman myth was that if topaz was near poisoned food or drink it would change colour thus alerting the wearer. and in Europe during the Renaissance period people believed that topaz could break magic spells and dispel anger. For centuries many people in India have believed that topaz should be worn above the heart for the assurance of long life, beauty and intelligence. Today the stone symbolises protection from colds and insomnia. However some people believe that the stone can aid those who are born in November!
Topaz has also been said to be of great use for protection of a wide variety of problems including phobia of fires and accidents! In 1255 St Hildegard of Bingen, a famous mystic, offered a simple remedy of the failing of eyesight involving topaz. Place topaz in a glass of wine for three days and the slightly rub over the eyes. It was also said to cure madness. Other properties topaz holds are said to dispel cowardice, calm the temper, cure the plague and sharpen wit.
Colour is what determines the value of a topaz and is much more important than size. It occurs naturally in a range of colours and is heat treated to produce the more popular hues. True topaz is found in shades of yellow, orange, red, brown, colourless and very rare pink. Blue topaz comes from heat treating colourless topaz and most are indistinguishable from aquamarine to the naked eye. What makes the difference is between the two stones is topaz has a lack of pleochroism which is found in aquamarine. Topaz produces some of the largest crystals - most famously in the Museum of Natural History New York. The topaz based there comes from Brazil and weighs 600 pounds! However the largest cut topaz is a pale blue ‘Brazilian Princess’ found in Rio De Janeiro weighing 21,327 carats and can be seen at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
Topaz rates an 8 on the Mohs Scale meaning you shouldn’t wear it next to diamonds or sapphires as these stones could result in scratching of the stone. The best way to clean topaz is with warm soapy water, never clean topaz with a home ultrasonic cleaner or steamer!
Whichever gem you decide to wear you will certainly be protected and adding either gem to your jewellery collection is a bonus.