The delightfully perverse poet Emily Dickinson once observed in a letter to her frequent correspondent Elizabeth Holland that “November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”
Now we happen to love Norway and everything Norwegian – skiing (the oldest ski discovered in Norway dates to 5100 B.C), medieval wooden stave churches, jam-filled waffles slathered with sour cream, the midnight sun, fjords, Vikings, the works of Henrik Ibsen, glamorous actress Liv Ullmann, Lilyhammer starring Steve Van Zandt! – but the poetess of Amherst had a point. “The noons are more laconi,” she added, “and the sunsets sterner, and Gibraltar lights make the village foreign.” The cold, short days and colder, not-short nights of November can indeed make for a month in need of warmth, which the heat of fiery topaz and citrine, the month’s birthstones, provide in spades. Or, should we say, carats.
Image via Olivier Durbano
When they were both discovered on Topazios, now St. John’s Island (aka Zabargad or Zebirgetan) in the Red Sea off southern Egypt, the similarity in their rich, yellow-gold hue caused the ancients to confuse citrine and topaz. In fact, they are completely different species of mineral, plus to further confuse matters, what they actually found was probably peridot.
But first, topaz.
Topaz is found in Brazil, Nigeria, Australia, Burma, and Mexico. It comes in a rainbow of rich color – pink, purple, orange, blue and yellow – but it is the last that is November’s stone. Its glamorously golden hue is responsible for much of its lore, as this shade is associated with the energy of life, the soul, and the giant glowing star in the center of our galaxy.
Image via danweinrich.com
Solar associations abound, and yellow topaz has sometimes been referred to as the sun’s – and even Sunday’s – gemstone. The fiery connotations are also evident in another possible source of the name, the Sanskrit word for fire (origin of the Greek word topazion): topas or tapaz. Topaz was associated with the Egyptian sun god, Ra, and later with the Greek god Apollo, also a deity of light and sun. And in Hindu mythology, topaz means heat, and it was one of the stones found in the divine, wish-fulfilling Kalpa tree or Kalpavriksha. Wearing topaz above the heart was supposed to fulfill desires for attributes like beauty, intelligence and longevity, and it was worn to (literally) protect the heart of the High Priest of the Israelites as part of a special breastplate described in the Book of Exodus.
Because of Pliny the Elder’s writings, many yellow stones in the ancient world were called topaz, which his fellow Romans thought prevented heart disease, stomach pain and improved one’s eyesight. If powdered and employed during the moonlight, some thought it even able to stave off the Grim Reaper!
Topaz has also long been believed to bridge our physical world with the non-physical. Hildegard of Bingen’s was of the mind that topaz could illuminate prayer in a dark chapel while the Popes Gregory II (669 – 731) and Clement VI (1291 –1352) believed it could not only cure the sores from plague, but dissolve anger and disarm magic spells. And in Africa, certain Bushman use it to facilitate communication with the spirit realm, contact ancestors who have passed and to undertake shamanic journeys.
World's Largest Topaz - "The El Dorado" 31K carats - via MartinBinders.Tumblr
However, even if topaz doesn’t make you psychic, immortal, or even bring about world peace, wearing it certainly promises to align you with the fashion stars!
November’s other birthstone is the citrine, found most frequently in Brazil, Bolivia, and Spain. Like yellow topaz, is known for assisting with healing. It is thought to support the vitality and health, not just of the body – particularly the liver, kidney and heart – but of the spirit as well, infusing the wearer with clarity of purpose, energy and hope. All of which are most welcome as those of us in the northern hemisphere head into the “Norway” months and relish reminders of warmer times.
Image via exceptionalminerals.com
“Having the same color of the sun, of light and of the most precious metal in alchemy, gold, the citrine radiates celestial light, joy and happiness,” enthuses Olivier Durbano, a Paris-based jewelry designer who creates specialty fragrances inspired by semi-precious stones, Bijoux de Pierres Poemes (roughly: jewelry inspired by the poetry of stones). “The citrine is linked to the third chakra and one of these rare stones that do not need any purification, since it absorbs and dissipates all negative energies.” The scent he developed, Citrine, was placed seventh in line in the collection to reference numerological associations of “7” with the oneness of the universe, eternal life and the bridge between the physical and non-physical realms. “Through its inner fire and glowing celestial energy,” continues Durbano, “the citrine has the power to eliminate man’s limits, to defuse his most profound fears and to dissipate all negative energies.”
Which certainly sounds lovely, but how does this translate to earth-speak? Translation: An exotic amber wooded spicy juice, with heady notes of Sicilian Lemon, wild orange, elemi incense, ginger and pink pepper. The heart is an offbeat mix of carrot seeds, mimosa, rosewood and lignum vitae, while the drydown is myrrh, gray amber, beeswax and earthy musk.
Largest Faceted Citrine in the world - "Malaga" 20K carats - via The Jeweler Blog
ISHARYA’s Citrine/Topaz Hued Jewelry
Here are some of our favorite fire-colored pieces that we hope will bring some spark to your winter-weather look:
Yellow Serpent Druzy Wire Cuff Simmering shades of yellow slither sexily around your wrist. Pair with your favorite vintage tee, leather jeggings and French-girl ankle boots for a look that’s le smoking.
Orange Pop Art Pyramid Quartz Chandelier Earring: Across the Pond from France, American style icon Edie Sedgwick rocked the fashion world with her boyish crop, thick brows, arm candy (aka Andy Warhol) and these earrings…had she been born a bit later.
Louvre Stackable Resin Rings: In orange and yellow. For a more pop art feel, stack yellow-orange-yellow; for a mini-sunset, orange-yellow-orange.