While topaz has been thought by many to be the traditional November birthstone, it’s actually citrine which holds that honor. With warm, fiery colors, the dark amber citrine is often referred to as Madeira because it so strongly resembles the color of the wine. Citrine is a gem which has been found in colors ranging from a pale yellow to a very dark amber.Because birthstones were often thought to provide the wearer with magical powers, healing or other protective qualities, citrine is believed to keep the wearer safe from evil thoughts and venomous snakes. Like topaz, the alternative birthstone for November, citrine is also thought to be a symbol of strength. The stone is believed to have medicinal qualities as well; it’s thought to cure kidney and urinary complications, and improve heart and digestive function. The citrine is also believed to remove body toxins and treat muscle disorders. Because of its fiery vibrancy, the citrine metaphysical properties include being a symbol of healing, power and strength.
It’s possible citrine wasn’t historically mentioned until the first century B.C. because it is a very scarce gemstone. From a historic view, the Romans were the first to wear it in the traditional cabochon style. For this, the citrine would be polished to ultimate brilliance and then the faceted stone would be made into jewelry. Artisans used the warmth of the gem as a method of enhancing gold jewelry in the Romantic Period. In fact, though it is not commonly found in many jewelry shops, or is misidentified as gold topaz, citrine continues to be used as a decorative piece to enhance many golden jewelry pieces.
If it had not been for the discovery that amethysts could be rendered yellow through the application of heat, citrine may not have been mentioned again historically. The heat application is generally done between 470 and 560 F and requires care and experience to do successfully. Throughout the last two centuries, however, it’s also been discovered that many of the stones available today are not true citrines, but are burnt amethysts or smoky quartz. Burnt stones, however, have slight striping while natural citrine is cloudy. Generally speaking, that is the sort of difference between the two types of stones that only a specialist can pick up. The amethyst’s ability to turn yellow with the application of heat makes it a sister gem to the citrine.
The most prized citrine is a clear, radiant yellowish to brownish red. Citrines of this color are more rare and therefore pricier. Like all crystal quartz, citrine properties include a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale and is pretty much insensitive to scratches. It’s a durable stone, as well, and difficult to break. Even if the citrine has a low sparkle, they seem to have a warmth to them which seems as though the last sunset of fall has been captured. Citrine seems to bring a hint of warmth and the sun to the dull November days that serve as a warning for winter’s chill.