Citrine vs Topaz: Comparing Two November Birth Stones

Wondering about the differences between citrine and topaz? 

You're in the right place. In this Learning Guide, I'll answer the most popular questions about these two stones like: 

  • Is topaz better than citrine?
  • Should I buy a citrine engagement ring?
  • Is topaz expensive?
citrine vs topaz

Main Differences Between Citrine vs Topaz Gemstones

Here are the main differences between citrine and topaz:

  • Citrine colors range between yellow to reddish orange, whereas topaz comes in every color.
  • Citrine is a gemstone variety, topaz is a gemstone species.
  • Natural citrine is very rare, whereas natural topaz is common.
  • Yellowish orange citrine is a typical shade, whereas a yellowish orange topaz is rare and valuable.
  • Citrine is a softer stone at 7 Mohs, whereas topaz is harder at 8.

Citrine vs Topaz: Origin

Citrine

Untreated, natural citrine jewelry is very rare. Most citrine on the market has been heat treated. Heat treated citrine can start out as light colored or it can start out as another variety of the quartz family.

heat treated amethyst citrine
loose citrine

Amethyst and smoky quartz are siblings of citrine, which is the yellow to reddish orange variety of quartz. Quartz is the most abundant mineral found within the earth. Both amethyst and smoky quartz can be baked to become citrine. Most of it has started out as amethyst or smoky quartz.

Citrine is one of the November birthstones. Topaz is the other birthstone. Both of these gemstones are usually shown as yellow or orange stones.

It's not the most popular gemstone in jewelry, but citrine is highly regarded when using it for crystal healing. Citrine stones are valued for their metaphysical properties. There are lots of people who believe healing quartz stones like citrine have many benefits.

natural citrine

Like many yellow and orange gemstones, citrine's properties focus around the sun. It's said to be a powerful crystal to aid in repelling negativity, enhancing creativity, and bringing mental clarity. The name citrine is derived from the French word for lemon: citrin.

Though little citrine is mined, Brazil is the main exporter of the stone. Heat treated citrine, amethyst, or smoky quartz, is likely to be found at your local crystal shops. You shouldn't fault the employees for not disclosing the differentiation between genuine citrine or baked amethyst. Most people don't know the difference.

Topaz

Topaz is the other one of the November birthstones. It doesn't mean all varieties of topaz are November birthstones. Just the yellow and orange varieties. Unlike citrine in any crystal structure, there are many color varieties of topaz. Colorless topaz is popular for diamond simulants and blue topaz is one of the December birthstones.

Topaz and citrine are both abundant minerals within the earth, but you don't usually find topaz in metaphysical crystal shops. That doesn't mean it doesn't have properties, because it does.

Yellow topaz has always been thought to bring wealth to the holder. Instead of associating with the sun like citrine stones, yellow topaz resonates with gold and money. Many believe yellow and orange topaz has the ability to draw the out optimism and inner strength of the wearer or holder.

As one of the world's oldest gemstones, topaz has been the name of many different gemstones. Any gem with a pale yellow to brownish orange variety of a stone was thought to be topaz. Today we know that many brown, orange, and yellow gems are other gemstones.

Topaz and citrine both come from Brazil. However, topaz can be found in many other places as well including the US, Myanmar (Burma), Russia, Namibia, and others.

Citrine vs Topaz: Appearance

Citrine

Though citrine is normally seen in fiery orange colors, natural citrine is more likely to be a pale yellow color. It rarely ever occurs in vivid orange shades. If you see an orangish red colored citrine stone, it is the Madeira hue. The bright orange color has red flashes caused by heat treating amethyst.

JA citrine earrings

Synthetics & Imitations

There's a lot of confusion to if heat treated amethyst should be called real or fake citrine. Gemologists say about 95% of the industry's citrine jewelry receives heat treatment. Some of that may be heat treated citrine stones that have improved color or heated amethyst/smoky quartz. Treatment is normal for gemstones, and doesn't change their authenticity. It may bring down the value.

Citrine stones can be imitations by any yellow or orange gemstone or material. Glass and cubic zirconia are the most popular fake citrine stones out there.

Most citrine color is caused by heat treatment, but there are lab created varieties as well. Scientists can produce vivid orange or vivid yellow citrine. Yellow topaz can also be treated and passed off as citrine.

Topaz

Colorless topaz is only popular as diamond imitations. Yellow topaz and blue topaz are the most in demand. Many people love swiss, sky, and london blue topaz jewelry. Pink topaz occurs, but is rare.

You'll find most yellow topaz and orange topaz with vivid hues will be branded as Imperial topaz or precious topaz. There are also brown topaz stones called imperial. However, modern gemology experts agree that vivid orange topaz jewelry should be called Imperial topaz and the yellow variety called yellow topaz.

topaz
BE Topaz Ring

Synthetics & Imitations

Though yellow topaz is affordable, there are synthetic topaz on the market as well. Some Imperial topaz on the market is the result of heat treating colorless topaz, not originally occurring as that shade. It can also be created by treating transparent yellow topaz into more of an orange color.

Yellow topaz can be imitated by the same stones and materials as citrine. Most imitation yellow topaz is glass or cubic zirconia.

Citrine vs Topaz: Price & Value

Madeira citrine is the most valuable color of citrine. If you'll recall, it's the result of heat treated amethyst. Still, a Madeira citrine is more valuable than pale yellow natural citrine. Light colored citrine stones are very affordable. They usually cost about $20-70 per carat. A Madeira colored citrine goes for around $100 per carat.

A high quality topaz would be natural Imperial topaz. True topazes of this color can run around $100 per carat. However, topaz between 1-3 carat weight can go up to $1000 per carat.

Though these November birthstones are often mistaken for each other, there are significant differences. The wearability and longevity value of these stones are different too.

Topaz has a better resistance to scratching than citrine, heated or otherwise. Citrine hits a 7 on the Mohs scale and yellow topaz hits an 8. Though only 1 number away, the difference between the two is not one and one.

Mohscale

Image by the National Park Service. Public Domain.

Citrine has a better resistance to bumps and knocks. We don't realize how often our hands bump into everything throughout the day, even if you don't work hard labor. It has no cleavage, which means it's less likely to split if hit.

Topaz has perfect cleavage on the other hand. That means it's more likely to break if hit in the wrong spot. Cleavage, hardness on the Mohs scale, and fracturing all contribute to a stone's overall wearability. Both are considered good gemstones to wear, but topaz is more common.

Conclusion

Citrine and topaz have similar yellow and orange shades and they're both considered a November birthstone.

Natural citrine is rare, while natural yellow topaz and orange topaz are more common. Most citrine on the market started out as another quartz variety. Many Imperial orange topaz is pure topaz that has been heated to the right hue.

Citrine doesn't stand up as well to scratching as a topaz gem. However topaz doesn't stand up as well when it comes blows.

Citrine is associated with the sun, while topaz is said to bring wealth and abundance to the wearer.


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