Citrine Specialist Mini Course
Why are Topaz and Citrine Gemstones Misidentified?
Purchase Citrine Specialist Mini CourseDo you love the autumnal hues of citrine? Whether you prefer its deep oranges or pale yellows, you’ll love this course. Learn the ins and outs of citrine, from how they form to how a connoisseur would pick out the perfect gem. Every citrine fan will learn something new in this course.
Answer: Topaz and citrine are definitely not "basically the same." Citrine gemstones, a yellow variety of quartz, are sometimes erroneously identified, even in appraisals, as topaz.
A Little History of Topaz and Citrine Gemstones
Before the 20th century, all gems in the brown, orange, and yellow color range were called topaz. Modern gemology was only recognized as a science in the 1930s. Now, we recognize topaz and yellow or brown quartz as separate gem species.
Topaz and quartz have different chemical, physical, and optical properties. However, many jewelers have continued to use the old names. Topaz gems occur in red and blue as well as yellow, but the popular association with yellow remains strong.
Topaz and Quartz are Valued Differently
Topazes typically appraise for more than quartz gems of similar appearance. The quartz family of gems is much more common than topaz. So even though they may look alike, the more common quartz varieties are less valuable than topaz.
This might explain why some vendors may refer to yellow or brown quartz as topaz. For example, "smoky topaz" is much more likely to be smoky quartz than actual brown topaz. Citrine gemstones (yellow quartz) are less frequently confused with topaz gemstones, but it does happen.
See our list of false and misleading gemstone names for more examples of quartz referred to commercially as varieties of topaz.
Appraisers Can Make Mistakes
Some jewelers can perform accurate appraisals. Others cannot. Consumers should realize there are no qualifications or regulations for writing a gemstone appraisal. To protect your investment, contact an independent gemology lab that specializes in identification and appraisal.
Donald Clark, CSM IMG
International Gem Society
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