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Topaz or Citrine, November's Birth Stone

Topaz or citrine, November's birthstone. Cautions when purchasing a topaz.

November’s birthstone is the topaz or citrine, see this article When purchasing a topaz or citrine one needs to be sure that they are paying for what they are getting. The reason being is that some unscrupulous jewelry or gem dealers may try to pass a citrine off as the more expensive topaz. A citrine is very rarely occurring in nature. More often than not it is an amethyst or smoky quartz that has been irradiated or heat treated to give it that yellow color. Often times a heat treated quartz will have a more reddish-yellow hue. Citrine is quartz and has a MOS scale hardness of 7, as where topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminum and fluorine and has a MOS scale hardness of 8.

Topaz can come in a variety of colors from wine, yellow, pale gray, reddish-orange, blue brown, orange to the rare blue topaz from Texas. Blue topaz is the state gem of Texas and is found in Mason County, Texas. Often times a light blue topaz is heated or irradiated to intensify the color. A topaz gemstone represents strength, wisdom, courage and is a symbol of friendship. It is the anniversary stone for the 4th and 19th years of marriage. It can be found in Utah, Russia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Pakistan, Italy, Sweden, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Flinders Island, Australia, Nigeria and the U.S.

Citrine is a quartz and it’s pale yellow coloration is rarely found in nature. More often than not it is an amethyst, which is also quartz, that has been heat treated to achieve the yellow color associated with citrine. It is a semi-precious gemstone and is quite a bit less expensive than topaz, therefore when purchasing a topaz one should go to a reputable dealer so as to be sure you’re getting a true topaz and not a citrine passed off as a topaz. Another way to achieve a citrine’s pale yellow color is to heat treat a smoky quartz. Brazil is the main producer of citrine.

As with any gemstone of higher quality I always recommend going to a good jewelry dealer that will sell you what you are trying to buy, rather than something they are trying to pass off as a more expensive gemstone. Without knowing the chemical structure of a stone and the MOS scale of hardness there is no way for a novice to be able to tell the difference between a topaz and a citrine; however one tale-tell sign is a heat treated citrine being passed off as a topaz may have more of a reddish hue. When purchasing precious gemstones caution and knowledge are the order of the day. Here is a helpful article on shopping for gemstones

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