For those born in November, citrine offers a lovely alternative to topaz as their birthstone. Historically the two gems were often confused, occurring in similar colours and localities, but modern gemmological testing allows them to be easily told apart.
Citrine is the yellow to orange variety of quartz. Although it is a gem seen regularly in jewellery and can be a very affordable choice, natural citrine is actually rare. Most of what is available is produced through heating pale amethyst (the purple variety of quartz), altering its chemical structure and causing it to become yellow. Interestingly the same process sometimes produces a pale green colour instead of yellow; this material is called prasiolite although it is often misleadingly called green amethyst.
Although quartz has been treasured and used in jewellery for thousands of years, citrine’s rarity means it is not seen in ancient pieces so often as varieties such as amethyst or rock crystal (colourless quartz). Mostly seen from the nineteenth century onwards, citrine is now the most popular yellow or orange gem, outselling similarly coloured topaz or sapphire. Quartz crystals can grow quite large so citrine is available in great sizes for jewellery and is also often used for carvings and fancy cuts. Achieving an even colour with large stones can be difficult though as colour zoning (where some areas of the crystal have more colour than others) is very common. Skilful cutting can ensure a stone has as even a colour as possible when viewed through the table facet.
Deeper colours tending towards orange or almost red are the most desirable and will cost more than lighter lemon hues. Although the colour is produced by heat treatment it is not possible to control the exact hue produced and lighter yellows are more common. These are often set into affordable silver jewellery, although the delicate colour can look pretty in gold too.
As a quartz gem, citrine is of medium hardness and should be worn with care to ensure it retains its lustre: if worn regularly its surface will begin to become scratched and abraded over time. It is a good idea to keep your jewellery in a jewellery box when not being worn, with separate compartments for each piece to ensure gems don’t knock against each other and cause damage. This will help maintain the appearance of your treasured pieces so that you can wear them for many years.
To find out more about citrine or enquire about citrine jewellery visit us in store where our team of gemmologists and jewellers will be happy to help. A small selection of our citrine jewellery is available to view on our website.