It ranges in colour from a shade of light gold through to a fiery reddened-yellow and owes its hue to traces of ferric iron.
The majority of citrine on the market, however, is actually heat-treated purple amethyst. This heat treatment – involving temperatures up to 560 degrees – helps replicate the yellow, gold and amber shades of natural citrine and is clearly recognisable to a trained professional by the subtle stripes that the process leaves on the gem.
Heat-treated citrine is readily available, very affordable and extremely durable.
Interestingly, ametrine – a half purple, half yellow gemstone – has emerged as a popular stone on the market because of its mix of amethyst and citrine properties.
The best specimens of natural citrine come from Brazil, mined in Rio Grande do Sul. Other deposits include Madagascar, USA, Spain and Africa.
Traditionally the darker shades have held more value but recently consumer preference leans towards brighter lemony hues.
Indeed, the name citrine is derived from the French word citron, meaning lemon.
In this shade, citrine is often confused with orange topaz, a more expensive gemstone.
Central to citrine’s healing properties is its ability to promote happiness, to help treat symptoms of depression, constipation and diabetes, aid digestion and remove toxins from the body.
Citrine is also believed to help build self-esteem, with powers that help heal the mind's feelings of inadequacy by neutralising negative thoughts, giving calmness and mental well-being to its wearer.
Legend says it acts as an energising stone against issues of willpower, optimism, confidence and self-discipline.
The gem has long thought to be a protective amulet against the plague, bad skin and evil thoughts. It was also used as a talisman against snakebites.
There are few references in history to citrine, perhaps because of the stone's rarity.
The first occurrences seem to be the use of citrine by Romans for intaglio and cabochon in the centuries immediately following the birth of Christ.
Citrine saw increased use as a gemstone in jewellery during the Romantic Age (1837-1860).
Today, citrine is widely used in many jewellery styles. The sunny gem’s beautiful colours can brighten almost any jewellery style, although it goes particularly well with yellow gold.
An inexpensive gem, citrine is the perfect stone for popular free-form fancy cuts for unique and custom-made pieces.
Like all crystal quartzes, citrine has a hardness of 7 on the Moh’s scale and is largely insensitive to scratches. It will also withstand a few knocks, too, since its cleavage properties are non-existent.
The gem does become dark brown when exposed to x-rays and white when heated. For this reason, citrine should be kept away from prolonged exposure to strong light or heat.
If these precautions are taken, jewellery boasting this sunny-yellow gem will last for many, many more years to come.
The stone’s durability makes it a suitable keepsake. Indeed, citrine is the modern birthstone for November and also the stone for the 13th year of marriage.
Quartz – comprised of crystallised silica.
Found: Brazil, Madagascar, USA,
Spain and Africa.
Modern birthstone: citrine, yellow topaz
Traditional birthstone: citrine
Mystical birthstone: pearl
Ayurvedic birthstone: topaz
Other birthstones: diamond
Scorpio (Oct 23-Nov 21) Aquamarine, topaz
Sagittarius (Nov 22-Dec 21) Sapphire, amethyst, turquoise, topaz
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