November Birthstone Report: How to Buy Topaz and Citrine

Precious Topaz and Diamond Ring
Precious Topaz and Diamond Ring.
Photo Courtesy of

Lucky November babies have the choice of two beautiful birthstones: topaz and citrine. According to the American Gem Society (AGS), these sunny yellow gemstones are both known for their calming energies, “bringing warmth and fortune to all who wear them.”

Topaz and citrine look so similar they are often mistaken for one another. They are actually different minerals, and topaz is found in a wide array of colors beyond yellow. The November birthstones are also similar in that they are fairly abundant, and therefore affordable, even in relatively large sizes.

Let’s review what to look for when purchasing topaz and citrine.

Polished Topaz and Polished Citrine
Polished Topaz and Polished Citrine. Images Courtesy of GIA.EDU.

How to Buy a Topaz

The 5C's of Diamonds - Color, Clarity, Cut, Carat, Clean!

When shopping for topaz, the American Gem Society recommends evaluating the gemstones along the same parameters as diamonds. Known as the 4Cs, these parameters are: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. Ask a fine jeweler near you to help in your selection process, preferably a jeweler authorized by the AGS.


(A good reference is: What Are the “4 CS” of Grading Diamonds? on


OBJ Tip: Don’t forget the fifth “C” stands for “Clean.” To learn how to keep your topaz dazzling, see the cleaning tips box at the end of this post.


Choose Your Color First

For a long time, all yellow gems were considered topaz and all topaz was believed to be yellow. Topaz is in fact available in many colors, including blue topaz and Imperial (reddish-orange) topaz.

Topaz Comes in Many Different Colors
Yellow and Blue Topaz. Photo Courtesy of

When buying a topaz, it is important to remember that this gem is usually treated with irradiation to produce desirable colors — particularly blue. The AGS says that this process closely resembles how topaz is formed in nature; it is a widely accepted practice in the jewelry industry.

Blue Topaz Earrings by Amy Glaswand
Blue Topaz Earrings by Amy Glaswand. Photo Courtesy of


Imperial Topaz, Moonstone and Diamond Pendant
Imperial Topaz, Moonstone and Diamond Pendant. Photo Courtesy of

Imperial topaz is the most valuable topaz, prized for its intense red-pink-orange color. Yellow, orange and brown stones are more common and less expensive, although they can be treated with heat to enhance their coveted pink and red tones.

Pure topaz is colorless and is often used as a diamond substitute.

How to Buy a Citrine

Citrine is one of the most abundant and affordable gemstones on the market today. Even large citrines of the finest quality are modestly priced, which means all of us can find citrine to fit our budget.

Like topaz, citrine can be evaluated by the same factors as diamonds: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. For best results, consult a fine jeweler to walk you through the 4Cs when buying citrine jewelry.

Look for Saturated Color

177-Carat Citrine Donated by Angelina Jolie to the Smithsonian Institute
177-Carat Citrine Donated by Angelina Jolie to the Smithsonian Institution National Gem Collection, Photo Courtesy of

The most valuable citrine gems are highly saturated with yellow, orange and reddish-brown hues. Pale or smoky stones are far less valuable.

Because these colors are rarely found in nature, citrine is often created by heating less expensive quartz to produce highly prized yellow gems. As is the case with topaz, treated citrine is perfectly acceptable.


Check out our recent post,
Add A Pop Of Yellow Gemstone Jewelry To Amp Up Your Style

A Statement Gem

The AGS tells us that citrine is readily found in sizes up to 20 carats, and, “because its price doesn’t increase exponentially with carat weight, large gems are relatively inexpensive.” Thanks to treatment methods that turn less valuable stones into more valuable yellow gems, it’s easy to find statement citrine pieces at affordable prices.

Citrine and Gold Earclips by Paloma Picasso for Tiffany & Co.
Citrine and Gold Earclips by Paloma Picasso for Tiffany & Co.Photo Courtesy of

So if you’re looking to maximize your holiday dazzle, perhaps with a large cocktail ring or sizable pendant, citrine will give you top bling for your buck.

Happy Birthday to all you November-born OBJ fans…
and, birthday or not, happy gemstone shopping!


To keep all your topaz and citrine jewelry sparkling, we recommend Connoisseurs Dazzle Drops Advanced Jewelry Cleaner. It’s the only jewelry cleaner that makes fresh solution every time – for cleaner jewelry.

And for gemstone and diamond cleaning on the go, keep a Connoisseurs Diamond Dazzle Stik in your handbag or tote…


Connoisseurs Diamond Dazzle Stik, because sometimes you need to get your dazzle back


Sources:  Adapted from;;



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