The Real November Birthstone: Citrine or Topaz?
November 4, 2009 by Yelena Jenkins
After last week’s article on citrine as the November birthstone, we received a few inquiries from people who thought that topaz was the official November birthstone. Interestingly enough, there is no official answer to the question of which gemstone is the ‘real’ November birthstone since the answer changes depending on who you ask!
After much research consulting reliable sources, the best answer we can give is that both citrine and topaz are considered to be November birthstones. Read on to find out why…
The First Calendar Birthstone Guide
The tradition of assigning a particular gemstone to a birth month in the Gregorian calendar began in 1870, when Tiffany & Co released the poem by ‘unknown author’ in a promotional pamphlet. In the poem, the verse for November reads:
Who first comes to this world below
In dreary November’s fog and snow,
Should prize the topaz amber hue,
Emblem of friends and lovers true.
According to the poem, it would seem that the official November birthstone is actually the yellow topaz instead of citrine. However, accepting this poem as the ‘real’ guide to birthstones is complicated by two issues: first, yellow topaz and citrine are nearly impossible to tell apart with the naked eye, which means that during the 1800s people likely would confuse the two. Secondly, to this day it is not substantiated whether the poem was indeed an old Gregorian calendar poem or simply a marketing scheme by Tiffany’s to promote the purchase of gemstones. If the poem is just invented by a jewelry company, why would that be the official word on the correct birthstone?
The Jewelers of America Birthstone Guide
To complicate matters further, when the Jewelers of America created an official list of birthstones in 1912, they chose both the citrine and yellow topaz as the November birthstone. Today this list is widely used by jewelers in the United States, Australia and Thailand as the official guide to birthstones, however the Ayurvedic birthstone list only includes topaz as the November birthstone.
So, there you have it – depending on the source you choose to believe, the November birthstone is either just topaz, or is both topaz and citrine. We love both yellow topaz and citrine gemstones for their beautiful, warm glow that compliments every skin tone, so we’re siding with the Jewelers of America official birthstone guide on this one. What do you think should be considered the ‘real’ November birthstone? Citrine, topaz or both?
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