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Citrine is part of the crystalline quartz family of minerals. Its lovely yellowish color is reminiscent of topaz, making it a popular choice for jewelry. Natural citrine is actually quite rare. All specimens are mined in the Ural Mountains of Russia or Madagascar. Citrine has long been used in adornment objects, found in the handles of swords dating back to 300 and 150 BC. It traditionally was sought-after for protection and to bring success and wealth to the wearer. Today, you'll see citrine worn as November's birthstone. There are many popular citrine shapes, but it's also essential to focus on clarity and color. Like other stones, citrine doesn't have a standardized grading system, making authenticity, size, clarity, and color important considerations.
Citrine comes from the quartz family. Quartz, and therefore citrine, is made up of oxygen and silicon atoms linked in a unique pattern. This crystalline mineral can be found in various colors. Still, citrine possesses a yellow hue that can have tones of brown, red, or orange. Its name comes from the French word for lemon, citron. You may also find citrine labeled as topaz quartz due to its similarities to this other yellowish gem.
Historically, citrine was added to jewelry and weapons for protection. It was thought to keep away evil and protect from snake bites. Older pieces feature natural citrine, which is very rare. Most citrine in today's market isn't actually genuine citrine mined from the ground but heat-treated amethyst. The process is highly similar to the natural process, and the gem produced is almost identical. Many of these stones are birthstone pieces representing the month of November or are given as a thirteenth-anniversary present. Antique citrine jewelry popularized in the 1940s is also prized.
Citrine is a relatively durable stone, ranked as a seven on the Mohs scale compared to a diamond's ten. Their resistance to scratching makes them excellent for jewelry. They have a warm, rich color ranging from a pale yellow to an earthy umber. You can find citrine necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets. Its neutral color, wide availability of shapes, and strength make it a perfect addition to everyday wear.
Yellow citrine comes in a variety of cuts. It is relatively simple to shape and cut, leading to a diverse range of shapes on the market. Fancy cuts, like marquise or baguette, are available. Additionally, citrine can sometimes be cut en cabochon, meaning it has a polished, rounded surface and a flat back. Different designs can be carved directly into citrine, as it lends itself well to custom cuts.
However, because citrine isn't exceptionally refractive, the most popular cut is one that boosts its brilliance and adds depth – round. A round solitaire citrine has multiple facets that intensify its light refractivity and enhance its shine.
Because natural citrine is rare, large specimens aren't expected. However, citrine created from heated treated amethyst is available in various sizes.
Smaller citrines sometimes have a richer color, making them excellent for citrine rings. Citrines are available in both small carat and large carat sizes. However, the carat doesn't have the most significant bearing on the price.
Color is usually cited as the most crucial consideration when choosing a citrine. Citrines can come in a range of yellow hues with brown and orange tones mixed in. Like topaz, the yellow can be pale or dusky.
The best color is saturated yellow, rich in color, and not too pale or murky. Similarly, a citrine with flashes of orange instead of predominantly red or brown is often more valuable. However, in the contemporary market, reddish and deeply hued citrines resembling amber can be just as sought after as the rich, yellow stones. These golden, reddish-orange-hued citrines are called "Madeira" colored.
Generally, you'll want to avoid very pale-colored citrines or those with noticeable brown inclusions known as "smoky" toned.
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When selecting a citrine, you'll want to ensure it is "eye-clean," which means you can't observe any inclusions or defects with the naked eye. Thankfully, as a type-2 gem, citrine doesn't naturally have a lot of inclusions. Therefore, many of the pieces on the market are eye-clean.
Its lack of obvious inclusions makes it very clear, emphasizing the need for the stone's even color and absence of color variations or zoning.
Natural citrine isn't widely available. Most of it is mined in Russia's Ural Mountains though this location has largely been exhausted. Madagascar, France, and the Congo also have produced citrine.
Additionally, Minas Gerais, Brazil, has produced some good-quality specimens. However, Brazil is also known for producing large quantities of heat-treated amethysts, which are much easier to find on the market than naturally occurring citrine.
Citrine is not generally certified. In most cases, you cannot have citrine certified by a lab. However, there are ways you can tell if your citrine is authentic.
Most gems can be recreated using colored glass. If you notice even one bubble in your citrine, it may be glass. Citrine can also be produced in a lab from man-grown quartz with minerals or chemicals added to change its color.
Remember, amethyst is typically heat treated to resemble citrine. It is challenging to tell treated amethyst from naturally occurring citrine. Additionally, because this process has been happening for over two thousand years, it is considered standard and doesn't have to be disclosed. Additionally, because heat-treating amethyst is almost identical to the process that would occur was the quartz left in the ground, there really isn't a significant disadvantage to buying citrine produced in this way for the average jewelry wearer.
As mentioned, amethyst can be heat treated to resemble citrine and often is sold simply as citrine. Naturally occurring citrine can also be heat treated to increase the richness of its color.
Both heat-treated citrine and natural citrine have nearly identical molecular properties, and both experience heat, one in the ground and one in a mine.
Budget First. Of course, you should create a budget and stick to it. Citrine is relatively affordable, offering you a wide selection of shapes, sizes, and colors, likely within your price range.
Select a Shape. Citrine is easy to cut and shape, lending itself well to many designs. You can find the ever-popular round cut, a variety of fancy cuts, personalized shapes, and more.
Select a Size. If you're not looking for strictly natural citrine, you can find citrine in all different sizes.
Quality Above All Else. Remember, there is no grading standard for citrine, so it's all about quality. Check that your stone looks eye-clean, that you like the color, and that it's been cut to a shape you want.
In-Store or Online. Citrine can be found online or in-store. While in-store allows you to evaluate the gem in person, they may not have as wide of a selection as online stores. As long as the online source is a reputable brand with a fair return policy, you can typically find a more comprehensive choice of stone cuts, colors, and jewelry designs.
Traditionally, citrine symbolized protection and wealth. It was also brought to bring positivity and optimism. Today, it represents November's birthstone and is the gem associated with a couple's thirteenth wedding anniversary.
It is relatively strong, possessing a 7 on the Mohs scale.
Historically, rich yellow citrines with orange "flames" were prized. Today, the market also values Madeira citrine, which is wood or amber-colored.
Citrine is bright and cheery. It looks chic and polished against lighter metals like white gold or platinum. Warm, yellow gold or rose gold help to bring out the stone's golden color.