The world adored the November birthstone. Natal stones came and went, but November gemstone held its place beautifully through the centuries. The only problem is, this most cherished gem was never actually the true birthstone of November.


The foundations of the city’s wall were adorned with all kinds of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, lapis lazuli … the ninth, peridot …

— Revelation 21:19-20

Unbeknownst to many, peridot is the original November birthstone. The Book of Revelation mentions topazion as the 9th Foundation Stone,1 which is associated with the 9th sign of the zodiac, Sagittarius, and the partially concurrent month of November. While people interpreted the Greek name topazion to mean the topaz that we know today, the topazion of the ancients did not actually refer to the true topaz, but to peridot.

1st-century scholar, Pliny, who speaks of the ancient topaz by the name topazo, described the same gem as a greenish stone worn away by use.2 This description fits the peridot, but is quite far-fetched as far as the true topaz is concerned. The peridot of antiquity came from the Red Sea’s island of Topazos, which gave the gem its name, topaz. Now called St. John’s Island, Topazos remains an important source of rough peridot to this day.3

While the name topazion from Revelation engendered this long-standing confusion over the November birthstone, the gem in question may have been specified as peridot right from the Book of Exodus. The Hebrew name of the birthstone for November is pitdah.4 While the etymology of peridot is traced to the Arabic faridat,5 pitdah could have been the Hebrew word for peridot.

Unfortunately, not only has peridot been erroneously replaced with topaz; these two birthstones switched months. Peridot, the topazion of November, became the September gem, while the golden topaz, which must have been the chrysolite of September, became the November birthstone. As a result, people born in November were entirely convinced that their birthstone was topaz, and had no idea that it was peridot.

Peridot is a transparent gemstone from the mineral olivine. Its most popular colors are olive green and lime green. Peridot is a relatively soft gem, scoring at most 7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. As Pliny from the 1st century said, the gem is indeed worn away by use.

From Wiener Edelstein Zentrum, CC BY-SA 3.0


Topaz has been widely recognized as the November birthstone. The original November stone from the Bible was called topazion. While the name in fact referred to peridot,2 Mediterranean cultures interpreted this name to mean the topaz that we know today. As a result, it was topaz, not peridot, that cultures from Europe to India embraced as the November gemstone. To this day, topaz has consistently been regarded as the birthstone for November.

Though the gem’s most popular color is yellow, topaz is found in a wide range of colors, including blue. The more expensive imperial topaz draws toward orangey red and pink. Given the multiplicity of topaz’ colors, Britain’s goldsmiths specified the November birthstone color as yellow.6

From Mauro Cateb, CC BY-SA 4.0


From the 1400s to early 1900s, pearl figured as November birthstone in Europe. Pearl debuted as birthstone in Ancient India, who placed the white gem in June. The Arabs shared this designation, but Europe did not. In the 1400s, possibly out of indecision, Europe assigned pearl to 2 months: February and November. Pearl held on to these months until 1912, when America enforced India’s placement of pearl and returned the gem to June.

Unlike most other gems, pearl is a product of biological activity. This organic gem is formed within a mollusk. When a foreign irritant, usually a grain of sand, enters its shell, the creature coats the particle with mother of pearl to reduce irritation. The coated particle grows in size, and forms what we call pearl.

From Mauro Cateb, CC BY-SA 3.0


Citrine is an alternate birthstone for November. The yellow quartz became November birthstone in 1952, when America designated the glassy gem as alternate to topaz.7

Citrine is yellow like topaz. The shade of this gem ranges from a pale yellow to dark brownish orange. Natural citrine is an extremely rare variety of quartz. Most citrine gems in the market today are heat-treated amethyst or smoky quartz.

Peridot Gemstone

Faith in November Birthstone

November birthstone is the story of faith and dedication channeled to the wrong gem. One would wish jewelers around the world had this much faith with tradition, and kept the original birthstone of other months, just as they did the topaz for November. Unfortunately, this steadfast loyalty was misplaced from the get-go, and ends up just as bad as it was good. This birthstone received utmost faith where it warranted least. The world has been wonderfully faithful with the birthstone for November, but they have been wonderfully faithful with the wrong gem.

Know Their Magic

Each birthstone for November is attributed with magical properties. Know the magical powers of November stone, as well as those of your zodiac birthstones, when you read my book Power Birthstone.

Learn the magic of November Birthstone



“Revelation 21.” The Bible. Bible Hub, Accessed 28 July 2019.


Pliny. “Book 37 – XXXII.” Natural History. Trans. D. E. Eichholz. Loeb Classical Library ed. Vol. X. Harvard University Press, 1962. Wikisource,,_Jones,_%26_Eichholz)/Book_37. Accessed 27 July 2019.


Knuth, Bruce G. “Peridot.” Gems in Myth, Legend and Lore. Revised ed. Parachute: Jewelers Press, 2007. pp. 169-170.


“Exodus 28.” The Bible. Bible Hub, Accessed 28 July 2019.


“Peridot History and Lore.” Gemological Institute of America Inc, Accessed 30 August 2019.


“Birthstones.” The National Association of Goldsmiths. Internet Archive, Accessed 30 July 2019.


Knuth, Bruce G. “Birthstones.” Gems in Myth, Legend and Lore. Revised ed. Parachute: Jewelers Press, 2007. pp. 293-327.

Published October 19, 2019