November Birthstone-Topaz or Citrine

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Topaz is the November birthstone.

The name Topaz may have been derived from the Sanskrit word "Topas" which means fire. It may also have been derived from the Greek word "Topazos" which means "green gemstone". Another view point is that the name may have been derived from the name of a Red Sea Island called "Topazios". Topaz is a gem stone that has been known for over two millennia.

Topaz is found in almost all the colors of the Rainbow, such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink. Color combinations such as orangish yellow, brownish yellow, yellowish brown, are also found. Colorless topaz are also quite common, but the color in which topaz is found very commonly is yellow. The golden yellow and golden orange colors are the most favoured colors for topaz, and belong to the Imperial Topaz, which is the most prized of all topazes.

Topaz is one of the gemstones whose crystals can grow to enormous sizes, sometimes weighing up to thousands of carats. A giant topaz called the" Braganza" from the Portugese Crown weighs 1680 carats. Another extraordinarily large topaz from Brazil weighs 144,000 carats.

The chemical composition of topaz is Aluminium Fluorosilicate, which forms orthorhombic crystals. Topaz has a specific gravity of 3.50 to 3.57.The refractive index varies from 1.61 to 1.64.Thus topaz has a high specific gravity and a low refractive index. This is exceptional, because usually refractive index increases when the specific gravity also increases. But, in topaz the refractive index is low even though the specific gravity is high. This anomaly has been attributed to the presence of a very large fluoride ion in the crystal lattice.

The important sources of topaz are Sri Lanka in Asia, Russia, Scotland and Ireland in Europe, Brazil in South America, the U.S.A. and Mexico in North America. Topaz has also been discovered recently in several African countries.

The metaphysical properties of topaz include protection from sudden death, protection from poisoning, protection from nocturnal fears and dispelling sadness and anger.


Citrine is an alternative November birthstone.

The name Citrine is derived from the Botanical Name Citrus for lemon and oranges, as the yellow color of citrine seems to resemble the yellow color of lemon and orange. The stone is also referred to as gold topaz or Spanish topaz, but these terms are misleading, as citrine belongs to the larger group of minerals called Quartz.

Citrine is found in different shades of yellow such as pastel yellow, orangish yellow, golden yellow, and also as brownish orange, and reddish brown.

Being a quartz, citrine is made up of Silicon Dioxide(SiO2),and the presence of traces of Iron in the crystal structure gives the yellow, orange or brownish colors to the stone. Citrine has a hardness of 7 on the Mohr's scale, and therefore not sensitive to scratches. The refractive index and specific gravity of citrine is much less than that of topaz.

Heat treatment of purple quartz (Amethyst) and smoky quartz at temperatures between 470 Celsius and 560 Celsius produces the golden yellow quartz known as citrine. Therefore most of the citrine available in the gem trade today are actually burnt amethysts or smoky quartz.

The traditional sources of citrine are Spain, France, Scotland and Hungary in Europe. They have also been found in many countries around the world, such as Brazil and Bolivia in South America, Sri Lanka in Asia, and recently in many African countries.

Citrine is believed to possess healing properties and therefore it is also known as "healing quartz". Other metaphysical properties of the stone include promotion of health and vitality, giving warmth and energy, and inducing hope and expectation.


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Dr Shihaan Larif
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