Yellow Topaz vs Citrine: What Are They and What’s the Difference? 

Yellow Topaz and Citrine are two stones prized for their beauty, vibrancy and overall visual appeal.

Their xanthous illumination and sunny disposition have made them both treasured gems for centuries.

But, unfortunately, because they look incredibly alike, many mistake one for the other and this is easy to do.

Yellow Topaz vs Citrine (Explained)

Yellow Topaz and Citrine are popular among rock collectors, hobbyists, jewelry enthusiasts, metaphysical gurus and gemologists.

They’re beautiful, gorgeous and give off a type of fire that’s almost diamond-like.

But, these are two very different types of stones completely unrelated to each other.

So, while they may be very close in their appearance, their chemical compositions and make ups are wholly distinct.

Yellow Topaz

A Yellow Topaz is a nesosilicate mineral composed of aluminum and fluorine.

Actually, its original form is translucent and colorless.

It’s the natural imperfections within the crystals that produce the yellow color.

It’s a highly prized, rather expensive and sought after gemstone, mostly used in jewelry.

It sits at 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it a scant less hard than a diamond.

Because it’s very difficult to work which contributes to how expensive it can be, compounded by its rarity.

You’re looking at a price tag ranging between $500 and $2000.


Citrine, on the other hand, is a simple variety of quartz.

The variation being that the yellow color comes from traces of iron mixed with the silicate which then underwent vast amounts of tremendous tectonic pressure.

It’s widely available and very common with a rating of 7 on the Mohs scale.

But, it makes a stunning gem in any jewelry setting; from watches and bracelets to rings, earrings, necklaces and cufflinks.

It sparkles and shines in such a way as to appear almost like a colored style of diamond.

But, it’s definitely more affordable with a cost range of $200 to $500.

How is a Yellow Topaz Similar to Citrine?

There are few qualities that Yellow Topaz and Citrine share.

They both have a vitreous luster, which means they reflect light in a similar way as glass.

Another commonality is that they’re both November birthstones, which lead to yet another similarity: they both look great in jewelry!

You can find both Yellow Topaz and Citrine in Brazil, Mexico and Madagascar.

However, they will not come from the same areas or quarries.

How is a Yellow Topaz Different from Citrine?

Yellow Topaz is different from Citrine in almost every way but color.

First, mineral composition is the king here.

Yellow Topaz is a combination of fluorine and aluminum where as Citrine is just quartz with trace amounts of iron.

It’s this differentiation in composition that makes Citrine a little more translucent than Topaz.

Color Notes

However, in regards to the yellow color, there is something of a general distinction between the two stones.

Citrine tends to have a lemony yellow hue that’s clear and pale.

Topaz has more fire, with a yellow that’s rich and more amber and golden.

But, that’s not to say there aren’t lighter tones of Topaz and darker shades of Citrine.

Indeed, they can span a host of yellows ranging from the barely there to the deepest, richest of golden brown hues.

Classifications; Hardness Ratings

It’s the quartz variation of Citrine that separates it from Topaz, which is in a class of precious stone all by itself.

Plus, each stone has a different rating on the Mohs scale of hardness: Topaz is 8 whereas Citrine is 7.

This is what makes both stones incredibly durable enough for things like jewelry.

Actually, because Topaz is a nesosilicate, it shares the same group of stones as Kyanite, Andalusite, Staurolite, Muscovite and Biotite, among many others.

They all have aluminum in their compositions which is what gives all these stones and crystals their unique shape, color and hardness.

Why Do People Confuse a Yellow Topaz for a Citrine?

The fact that Yellow Topaz and Citrine have near the same coloring is what makes people confuse the two.

Indeed, before the earliest parts of the 20th century, many people thought that all stones comprising a yellowish golden brown color fell under the classification of “Topaz.”

Today we know this to not be true due to advancements in science and mineralogy.

Once gemology became an official science in the 1930s, researchers were able to dissect and inspect stones in a more thorough and detailed way.

Even still, it’s easy to confuse a Yellow Topaz for a Citrine.

Other than coloring, they also have a similar translucence.

However, Topaz is slightly more opaque than Citrine.

Using a powerful LED light should help to tell the difference.

Where Do You Find Yellow Topaz vs Citrine?

As mentioned earlier, you can find both Yellow Topaz and Citrine in Brazil, Mexico and Madagascar.

But, the locations where they inhabit will be entirely different.

For instance, Topaz must come from a mine deep within the earth.

Citrine shares composition with sand, silicone dioxide.

Therefore, you will find it on beaches, riverbanks and other waterways.

Areas of Origin for Yellow Topaz

Topaz mostly comes from Brazil, where mining operations have been underway for more than two centuries.

However, it also comes from northwestern Pakistan, near Katlang as well as Mexico, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Utah (USA), Madagascar and Russia.

Areas of Origin for Citrine

Citrine, on the other hand, inhabits any area where you can also find quartz and/or amethyst. Deep, freshwater wetland areas are ideal for Citrine deposits.

Places like Bolivia, Spain, Brazil, Madagascar, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay and California (both USA) have it.


While Yellow Topaz and Citrine share a similar color range, they are completely different minerals.

With Yellow Topaz being semi-precious, it sits in a class of its own, containing aluminum and fluorine. Citrine is a type of quartz, which means it’s silicone dioxide.

But the color comes from traces of iron in the composition of the stone.

You might also like:

Yellow Topaz vs Citrine