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History and lore of gems: Topaz & citrine

Topaz and citrine

My topaz & citrine palette. Ammonite links (top center ) by Suburban Girl Studio. Silks by Marsha Neal Studios. All other ceramic beads/charms by the author. (Jenny Davies-Reazor)

I am finding more and more months that are represented by 2 gems! November brings you topaz and citrine, the warm yellows and honey tones bringing to mind fall leaves? 


Topaz comes in a variety of colors. The blue - extremely rare - is the state gem of Texas. The version known as Imperial Topaz, named after the Russian Tzars in the 1800's, is a pinky orange. We are dealing with the yellow variety, sometimes called "precious topaz" as the birthstone of November. 

Pliny, my go-to Roman gemologist ( history humor, forgive me) states that the name Topaz is derived from the Island of Topazos in the Red Sea. ( Yup. Thats the same island, Zeberged, mentioned in the peridot post.) Most likes the name comes to us from the Sanskit word " Tapas" meaning fire. 

Topaz lore: 

  • Ancient Egypt - Topaz was believed to be colored with the golden rays of Ra, the Sun God. 

  • Ancient Greece - topaz was believed to increase ones strength; and even render the wearer invisible?!

  • Ancient Rome - Romans wore topaz to improve eyesight. and associated the gem with Jupiter, the God of the heavens/sun. 

  • Tzarist Russia ( late 1800's) - The pink Imperial topaz was discovered  and coveted by the Tsar. Only the Tsar, his family and those he gifted it to - were allowed ownership. 

  • The most mysterious topaz seems to be the "Braganza Diamond". Mined in Brazil, sent back to Royal family of Portugal in 1741.... It was app. 1680 carats. Is it in the treasury to this day? Was it set in the Portuguese Crown Jewels? Was it smuggled into exile in 1807 as the royal family fled Napoleon's army? Truly - what little I could find on this stone read like a soap opera!


I didn't realize that citrine is a variety of quartz... Naturally occurring stones are rare; most citrines are heat treated amethysts! ( Yes - heat an amethyst, lets say with your torch - you will have a citrine. Did it once accidentally in college.) 

Found most frequently in Brazil, Bolivia and Spain, citrine is said to support health and vitality, encourage hope, energy and warmth. The name derives from the Latin "citron" or yellow. 

So lets run down the members in this family: 

  • Lemon quartz - pure yellow

  • Citrine (natural) - pale yellow - pale orange. Very light. 

  • Ametrine - bi colored quartz: citrine/amethyst; citrine/smoky quartz; smoky/amethyst...

  • Citrine (heat treated amethyst)  - darker orange/reddish/sherry tones. Give away is a reddish tint natural stones do not have. 

Citrine folklore: 

  • Said to promote success in business, it is nickmaned  the "Merchant stone"

  • Historically it was carried for protection from snake venom. 

  • Believe to increase mental clarity, happiness and will power. 

  • Generally an all around good fortune stone, citrine can reportedly alleviate depression and mood swings. 

I am always surprised and entertained by the lore of these gems. I hope you have enjoyed this month's post. And dont forget your citrine next time you handle snakes!

( These are the opinions, and humorous comments of the author and should not be taken as recommendations for gemstone usage. )


  1. I love this post and I have to tell you I am so drawn to citrine. Yes it is my birthstone but I can spot it among any stone displays. I even have a rough one like the rock in your picture. It gives me a pick me up and now I know why!

  2. Agreed! I love citrine, but am not a fan of yellow items in clothing or home decor. It is sunny and refreshing, and pairs well with so many other gems!


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