Since its introduction into the jewellery world in the 1930's, Citrine quickly became one of the most popular gemstones. Its name comes from its colour - citrus yellow - although it ranges from light yellow to dark brown, including all intermediate shades, intense golden yellow, orange, orange-red. Even though its refractive index is relatively low, this yellow stone has a warm and velvety shade that seems to have captured the last autumn rays. Both hard and soft, like a golden Rhine wine or a sparkling Madeira, the shimmering Citrine brings sunshine to dull November days.

Citrine, like all other varieties in the quartz family, is a silicon dioxide. It gets its colour from the colloidal iron oxide suspension. The Citrine crystals occur in the form of clusters or prominent pyramids. Many Citrines start their lives as Amethysts. They get their golden colour when the Amethysts are naturally heated, deep within the earth. After this slow and gentle heating, the purple colour fades and the golden yellow takes its place.

Citrine is the lucky stone of those born in November. It is also the anniversary gemstone for the thirteenth year of marriage.

Citrine History and Sources

The enthusiasm story for these yellow or reddish stones started in the 30's, when agate cutters from Idar-Oberstein (Germany) living in South America shipped home large quantities of Citrine, as well as Amethysts and Agates, extracted from Brazil and Uruguay. Those golden yellow quartz helped to ensure that Idar-Oberstein became - and still is - the focal point of gemstone cutting and trade in the world. Just as they were accustomed to do with agate and other quartz, the stonecutters faceted Citrine, using big sandstone rotary grinding wheels to do so.

The arrival in Europe of sufficient quantities of raw material took place at the very beginning of a radical change in social conditions. As the bourgeoisie became increasingly important, the jewellery demand also grew across a wider range of social classes, and Citrine found a sustainable spot there. These yellow and brown quartz crystals became very popular among the ladies, under the name "Golden Topaz" or "Smoky Topaz", or other very long names that indicated their origin (Bahia, Spanish, Palmyra Topaz, etc). They could also be found, table or square cut, on gold rings or on the cufflinks of distinguished gentlemen's formal wear. The expression "all about the looks" may have played a role at the time, or it might have been "in good taste" to pass Citrines for Topazes. Nonetheless, there is no other gemstone that has a false name stuck to it as stubbornly as Citrine.

Most Citrines come from Brazil nowadays, mostly from the Rio Grande do Sul area. There are only very few Citrine deposits and most gemstones are obtained by thermal treatment of Amethysts. Historical discoveries took place in Spain, on the ScottishAranIsland, in France, in Hungary and in some overseas mines.

Citrine Value and Treatement

Citrine is one of the most affordable gemstones. Whether it is treated or not, its value depends mostly on the stone quality and on the intensity, richness and uniformity of its colour. A range from an intense, orange-tinted colour to a brown-red tone, often called "Madeira Citrine", was, a while ago, used as the reference colour. Nowadays, most people prefer citrus or golden yellow colours that match pastel shades better.

Varying degrees of clarity can be found in Citrines. Stones without inclusions are obviously more valuable. Faceted stones are usually flawless, or with just a few barely visible inclusions. Stones with inclusions are cut in beads or in cabochons. As the stone is quite abundant even in large sizes, its per-carat value does not increase with size.

Most of the Citrines that can be found on the market are treated Amethysts. It was discovered in the middle of the 18th century that Amethysts and other smoky quartz could turn yellow when heated. This treatment, with temperatures ranging from 470 to 560 degrees, must be carried out with extreme care, and requires in-depth experience. However, over the last two centuries, its implementation became so obvious that most stones currently available on the market are in fact heated Amethysts or other quartz. This practice is totally accepted in the trade.

Synthetic Citrines made in Russia or China have recently flooded the market. However, their prices are close to those of natural Citrine. It seems impossible to distinguish those synthetic stones from the natural gems with conventional testing equipment. Therefore, great prudence is recommended when acquiring stones from dubious sources.