November is another month with two birthstones. The American National Retail Jeweler’s Association (now Jewellers of America (JA)) list of birthstones, published in 1912, originally only listed topaz as the month’s birthstone. However, the citrine was added in 1952. There is some justification for the addition as, historically, citrines and topaz were often confused as topaz was mainly seen in yellow and pink colours, rather than the blue that we see today.  Generally, all yellow stones were described as being topaz. This changed as the chemical properties of different gemstones began to be identified.

The name ‘citrine’ comes from the French word for lemon which is ‘citron’.  Citrines belong to the quartz family and are mined in Brazil, Madagasar and the US, as well as other countries such as Russia, France and Spain. They are a beautiful yellow colour, although depending on the treatments they may have received, usually heat treatment, they can become a golden colour and sometimes an orangey colour. Foiling of the stones was common up to the beginning of the 19th century and could result in them appearing darker as is the case with the lovely Georgian citrine ring below. Set off by a border of seed pearls and garnets, it makes a very pretty ring.

Georgian ring with central foiled citrine and a border of garnets and pearls.

Antique natural citrines are more likely to be a lemon yellow. In the 19th century, when the necklace below was made, the citrines were left open at the back. The ones in this necklace have a good strong colour and sit well with the gold swag chains.

Late Victorian gold citrine and swag fringe necklace