November has two birthstones associated with it – topaz and citrine. There are a few reasons why November ended up with two birthstones rather than just one.
The history of birthstones
The idea of birthstones – gemstones associated with each month of the year – is an ancient one, but the specific gemstones we consider “traditional” birthstones were connected to calendar months in 1912 by the American National Association of Jewelers. This was meant to standardize the birthstones for the first time.
Before this list was created, various cultures had their own traditions around gemstones and the months they were linked to. Over time, these lists from different cultures were combined and blended. By the early 20th century, there were a variety of conflicting birthstone lists.
The Jewelers of America aimed to fix that by selecting a single birthstone for each month. But in some cases, they chose to include two options:
- January – Garnet
- February – Amethyst
- March – Aquamarine or Bloodstone
- April – Diamond
- May – Emerald
- June – Pearl or Moonstone
- July – Ruby
- August – Peridot or Sardonyx
- September – Sapphire
- October – Opal or Tourmaline
- November – Topaz or Citrine
- December – Turquoise or Zircon
This allowed them to combine historically significant stones for each month from various traditions. November’s two stones – topaz and citrine – came from two different sources.
In ancient times, topaz was linked to the month we now call November. According to Pliny the Elder, an author in ancient Rome, topaz was named for an island in the Red Sea called Topazios where the gemstone was first mined.
The gemstone we know as topaz today likely does not come from that location, as true topaz is quite rare. But the name stuck and topaz became the traditional birthstone for November.
When the American jewelers created their standardized list, they kept topaz as the November birthstone in a nod to this long-standing association.
Citrine was also tied to November, but through a different route. In ancient times, citrine was not distinguished from yellow quartz. The yellow quartz was simply considered a variety of quartz.
Quartz was associated with the zodiac sign Scorpio by the ancient Greeks, according to some sources. And Scorpio overlaps with the month of November.
Over time, the yellow variety of quartz became known as citrine and retained the November association. When the jewelers created the modern birthstone list, they decided to include this alternative for November.
Meanings of the stones
The two November birthstones also carry unique symbolic meanings that connect them to the month in other ways.
Topaz is associated with strength, healing, and protection. As November marks the start of winter in the northern hemisphere, topaz’s protective powers feel fitting for the month where people retreat indoors from the cold.
The gemstone is also tied to solar energy, with its golden hues resembling the vibrant life-giving sun. This solar connection links topaz to November’s Scorpio season and its fiery energy.
Citrine is known as the “stone of the mind”. Its golden color is believed to heighten mental clarity, confidence, and willpower. With November starting the busy holiday season, citrine feels appropriate as the month draws focus toward family gatherings and the mental energy required to take on numerous responsibilities and tasks.
Citrine is also tied to feelings of joy, optimism, and warmth. Its bright and sunny hue is fitting for November, bringing vibrancy and light during the darker months of winter.
The two birthstones complement each other
While topaz and citrine both ended up as November birthstones through varying paths, they nicely complement each other in symbolic meaning and appearance.
Both stones share golden yellow and orange hues but in different saturations – topaz a deeper golden, and citrine a light lemony color. They make fitting partners as birthstones for the autumnal month of November.
In addition to symbolic meaning, the two stones have unique properties and uses as gemstones.
|Hardness (Mohs scale)||8||7|
|Chemical composition||Aluminum fluorosilicate||Silicon dioxide|
As the table shows, the two gemstones have similarities but some distinct differences. Topaz is slightly harder and denser, with a higher melting point. Citrine has a lower refractive index.
Topaz tends to be more expensive than citrine. Natural citrine is uncommon, so most commercial citrine is heat treated amethyst or smoky quartz. Natural citrine from Brazil is rare.
How to choose a November birthstone
So how do you pick between the two birthstones if you’re a November baby? Here are some factors to consider when selecting your birthstone:
- Color preference – citrine is light yellow, topaz is golden
- Meaning – pick the stone whose symbolic meaning resonates with you
- Availability – topaz may be pricier and harder to find
- Durability – both are durable, but topaz is harder
- Design – choose the stone that fits your jewelry style and taste
You aren’t restricted to one or the other – many people with November birthdays opt to wear both stones. You could also look for a piece of jewelry that incorporates both citrine and topaz.
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. Let the two birthstones’ unique beauty, symbolism and history guide you.
November ended up with two birthstones due to the convergence of historical associations from across cultures. Topaz represented the November birthstone in ancient legends, while citrine was linked through its connections to the sun sign Scorpio.
Though they took different paths, the two yellow gemstones complement each other beautifully as joint representations of November. They share golden hues but have unique meanings and properties.
Those with November birthdays are lucky to have not one, but two gorgeous birthstones to choose from. Whether you pick topaz, citrine, or both, these sunny gems are the perfect way to celebrate the vibrant spirit of November.