Topaz and Citrine ~ by Grace Augustine

November is filled with beautiful bronze, butterscotch, red, gold, and yellow in the floral arrangements for Thanksgiving as well as in trees that are beginning to drop their leaves. So it is with birthstones, too.

This month we focus on the beauty of topaz and citrine.

From blue to pink and fiery orange to honey yellow, the topaz has long been a favorite gemstone. Scholars have traced the name "topaz" to the ancient Sanskrit language in India... the word meaning fire.

Topaz is known to the ancient Greeks for bringing strength. During the 1300-1600, Renaissance period of history, it is thought to have broken magic spells and dispelled anger. In 19th century Russia, pink topaz was mined in the Ural mountains and ownership of the gem was exclusive to the royal family.

For more than 2 centuries, topaz has been mined in Minas Gerais,
Brazil. Some of the richest colored topaz has been produced from these mines. Northwest Pakistan is known for its production of pink topaz. This gem can also be found in the historic mines of Russia as well as in Namibia, Nigeria, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

Using high heat or ultrasound to clean this gem is a no-no. While it comes in at an 8 on the MOHS scale of hardness, it still has a propensity to crack. Warm soapy water and a dry with a soft cloth is your best bet.

Citrine is a brownish/yellow or yellow/green version of quartz or silicon dioxide. It is often confused with the topaz, which isn't quartz but aluminum silicate. The gem name is believed to be from the French word or lemon. It is the most affordable and desired gemstone today.

Ancient Greeks carved rock crystal ornaments from this gem, and Roman priests were seen pairing citrine with amethyst in holy rings. This gem was wildly popular in Scotland during the Victorian era.

Sources for this beautiful stone are Bolivia, Spain, Madagascar, Mexico, and Uruguay. The Anahi mine in the wetlands of Bolivia is the prime source of natural unheated citrine. This mine was discovered by a Spanish Conquistador in the 1600's. It was given to him upon marriage to the Princess Anahi of the Ayoreos Tribe in Paraguay. The mine was lost for many years until rediscovered in 1960. The mine produces a rare combination of citrine and amethyst in the same crystal.

Weighing in as a 7 on the MOHS scale of hardness, the citrine should also be cleaned with warm soapy water and dried with a soft cloth to prevent scratching. 

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