November Birthstone Jewelry

by fitzcharming

I was born in November and the gem I always knew as my birthstone when I was growing up was a Topaz. Turns out that's not the only November birthstone - I've got choices!

As a young girl I wasn't impressed with my birthstone. I remember looking through catalogs - no internet back then - at all the pretty birthstone jewelry and wishing my November jewelry contained something prettier than topaz. Now that I'm grown and have learned some things about jewelry I realize that what I was looking at in those catalogs was not topaz, but smoky quartz, a clear brown stone that was often substituted for topaz.

Topaz is a form of quartz crystal, that comes in many colors. The one most associated with birthstones is an amber shade, rich with the sunny hues of autumn, and I think it's the perfect birthstone for the last month of the fall season. Citrine and Cats Eyes are also recognized as November birthstones, and they too contain autumn's warm golden colors. Since yellow is my favorite color, I am happy to wear any one of these beautiful jewels to represent my birth month.

An Image of Clear Imperial Topaz Crystals

Topaze impériale (Brésil)












Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Topaz Facts and Lore

Topaz crystals are hard, durable, have a high lustre, and come in several colors. Perfect for creating jewelry. The Imperial topaz stone shown in the above picture from Wikimedia is my favorite. It is named after the Czars of Russia and is a warm amber color with pink undertones.  The topaz stone is a form of silicate that when pure is almost clear. Heating clear topaz will turn it blue and many of the blue topaz you find on the market today is created that way. The term is "irradiated". Pure topaz is quite rare so most affordable jewelry is synthetic.  Modern jewelry making methods ensure that synthetic topaz is very beautiful and simulates the real thing very well.  

There are a couple of theories about the origin of the name.  One is that it was named after the Greek author Topazios who was one of the worlds first authorities on minerals and gemstones. Another is that topaz comes from a Sanskrit word meaning fire.

As with many beautiful gems ancient topaz was worn primarily by clergy and royalty. Every birthstone has mythical properties and in ancient lore the topaz was said to control heat. It was used for everything from cooling boiling water, a boiling temper, and a fever in sick patients. 

Topaz stones are mined in many areas of the world including Russia, Japan, and Brazil.  The crystals are found in rocks and granite deposits and are typically gray in nature.  Red topaz is the most rare natural color and is mined in Russia. The orangish Imperial topaz is found in Brazil. One of the largest uncut stones that was found in Brazil weighs 600 pounds and is on display in the American Museum of Natural History.

A topaz stone is very hard, measuring 8 on a Mohs scale. Most are cut into long faceted shapes. They will often appear darker at both ends and will help differentiate natural stones from synthetic ones. Topaz stones will sometimes fade when exposed to extended periods of light and should be treated with care.  Another reason synthetic topaz may be a reasonable choice.

 Who first comes to this world below
With drear November's fog and snow,
Should prize the topaz's amber hue,
Emblem of friends and lovers true.

~unknown author - Published by Tiffany in 1870

Citrine Is Considered The Modern Secondary November Birthstone

Another yellow stone, citrine is also a November signature stone.  It's often purchased as an alternative for yellow diamonds.  Citrines are a variety of quartz that are typically a yellow to orange color. They can change color when exposed to heat and light, so like topaz stones, it's important to take proper care of citrine jewelry.  Most citrines are mined are in South America. The stone is named for the French word "citrin" which means lemon.

Citrine stone jewelry became very popular during the Art Deco period beginning in the 1920s and was made into large rings and pendants. Movie stars picked up on the trend because of the attention grabbing qualities and and affordability.  Heat-treated citrine is still quite inexpensive as gemstone jewelry goes, and the bright yellow color is popular with people born in any month. You will often find it in big statement pieces like coctail rings.

Metaphysical properties of citrine include mental clarity, joy and light-heartedness. They are supposed to create a calm feeling and dispel anxiety. In history citrine stones have been used as a disgestion aid, and to remove toxins from the bloodstream and kidneys.

I love citrine because it's easy to find large jewelry pieces and it's affordable.  I'm a yellow jewelry girl and love it's beautiful bright sunny color.

Cats Eye - A Beautiful Hindu Version Of November's Birthstone

Cats eye stones are a form of cymophane and are milky translucent yellow green, or sometimes honey color.  The cats eye effect, called chatoyancy, is created from a hollow tube inclusion inside the stone.  It forms a luminous stripe from top to bottom and side to side that when turned, looks like an eye opening and closing.  The stones must be cut perfectly to keep the inclusion perpendicular to the surface of the stone or the eye effect is lost. Typically you will find cats eye stones cut into cabochons and bead shapes which enhance visibility of the eye.

Cats eye gems are mined primarily in Ceylon in gravel pits.  The stones are important in Hindu culture and Indian astrology.  It's said that they protected the owners health and prosperity.  There are many references to cats eyes and becoming rich and wealthy in Indian lore and legends. 

Cats eye jewelry can be quite inexpensive.  It can also be cheap looking if you aren't careful when purchasing these pieces.  I've found some lovely cats eye jewelry but typically I like to see it in person before buying. When buying cats eye online I recommend checking the seller reputation and return policy beofre purchasing.  Due diligence is a good thing when buying anything online, and jewelry is no exception. 

Updated: 07/13/2013, fitzcharming
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fitzcharming on 07/13/2013

I agree kimbesa, when the cut and setting is right, most stones sparkle.

kimbesa on 07/13/2013

I like amethyst, and any blue stones especially. All gemstones are beautiful when cut to show off their individual character, and set in something pretty.

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