While all of you have heard and sang songs about the enticing nature of diamonds, not everyone pays attention to the lesser known gemstones that make up the diversity of modern jewelry. It has, however, been a subject of much study among circles well-versed with fluctuations in the history of jewelry, owing to the fact that mass preference changes drastically and sometimes very suddenly. One very less known but much praised gemstone is November’s very own birthstone – citrine.
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The name “citrine” was officially adopted in 1556 when German metallurgist Georg Bauer, known to some as “the father of modern mineralogy,” used it in a publication about gemstones and jewelry. The word “citrine” has a few potential sources, all related to citrus fruits. The most likely root of this word is from the old French word citron, meaning “yellow,” or the Latin word citrus, in reference to citrus fruit. Around the 17th century, both citrine and smoky quartz were called “cairngorm” after their source in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. “Madeira citrine” is the term used for the orangey-brown citrines, so named because they share their color with Madeira wine.
Citrine is very closely related to violet amethyst another variety of macrocrystalline quartz. The only difference between citrine and amethyst is the oxidation level of iron ions (Fe3) present in colorless quartz crystal. When quartz is heated, iron impurities are reduced, resulting in less violet-purple color and more golden to orange colors. Ametrine is the natural bicolor combination of both golden citrine and violet amethyst in a single specimen.
Citrine can be easily identified through its distinct quartz properties. It is one of the few gemstones which naturally occur in golden to yellow colors. Other similar colored stones are typically much harder (sapphire and topaz) or much softer (sphalerite and sphene). Golden Beryl and Tourmaline can also often cause confusion.
Natural citrine quartz derives its attractive golden color from the presence of iron impurities. It has a specific chemical formula of SiO2 (Silicon Dioxide), a density of 2.60 to 2.70 and a refractive index of 1.544 to 1.553, all of which can help distinguish citrine from other similar materials.
Some useful information about Citrines:
- Chemistry: SiO2.
- Colour: various shades of golden yellow and orange
- Mohs scale: hardness 7
- Luster: Vitreous
- Cleavage: None
- Transparency: Transparent to translucent
- Refractive index: 1.544-1.553
Citrine Origin and Gemstone Sources:
Brazil is the worlds leading supplier for Citrine. Other sources include Argentina, Bolivia, France, Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Uruguay and Zambia.
Citrine has been used ornamentally on tools and in jewelry for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, the stone now known as citrine first gained popularity as a decorative gem during the Hellenistic Age, roughly between 300 and 150 B.C. In the 17th century, Scottish weapon makers used citrine to adorn dagger handles, sometimes even using a single large citrine crystal as the handle itself.
In Europe, the boom on these yellow to reddish crystal quartzs didn’t begin until, in the 1930s, expatriate agate cutters from Idar-Oberstein sent large quantities of citrine back home, along with amethyst and agate, from Brazil and Uruguay.
The supply of Europe with sufficient raw material came just at the right moment for the nascent upheaval in social conditions. As the bourgeoisie grew in strength, the demand for jewellery across a broader spectrum of social strata also grew, and the citrine found a permanent niche for itself. Since until then it was really only the topaz which was known and used as a gold-coloured gemstone, the yellow and brown crystal quartzes quickly became very popular among the ladies, being known as gold topaz or smoky topaz, or by the double-barrelled names that proclaimed their origin. However, they were also found in step and table cuts as cuff-links and rings in the evening wardrobe of fine gentlemen. At the beginning, perhaps, the notion “it’s all on the surface” may have played a part. But there was no other stone to which the wrong name clung as doggedly as the citrine. Even now, jewellery enthusiasts with no specialist knowledge may be astounded when you tell them that their ‘gold topaz’ is a citrine, in other words not a topaz at all, but quartz.
Buying a Citrine – How to determine a Citrine gemstone value?
1. Citrine Colour
Natural untreated citrine is typically pale yellow to golden in color and often accompanied by smoky brownish tones. Deeper colors can occur ranging from golden orange to rich gold-brown. Darker colors are typically considered more desirable than lighter lemon colors. Heated Citrine (amethyst or smoky quartz) will typically exhibit a reddish tint.
2. Citrine Clarity and Luster
Citrine is known to occur with excellent transparency. Eye-clean specimens are quite common leaving little reason to buy Citrine stones with visible inclusions. Citrine has an attractive vitreous luster when cut and polished.
3. Citrine Cut and Shape
Citrine is almost always faceted. Round brilliants and ovals are most common as these cuts tends to maximize color and dispersion. Step cuts (emerald cut) and other fancy cuts, such as scissor-cut or Portuguese-cut are also quite popular. Citrine gemstones can be found available in just about every shape imaginable, including pears, squares, trillions, rounds, ovals, cushions and heart shapes.
4. Citrine Treatment
Natural unheated citrine is becoming increasingly rare. Many of the citrine stones available today are heat-treated amethyst or smoky quartz. Often times, treated citrine is heated right at the mining source. The color change is considered both permanent and stable.
November’s Birthstone and 13th Wedding Anniversary
Citrine is often used as a birthstone of November (along with topaz) and it is the official 13th wedding anniversary gemstone. It is also considered the official Stone of Virgo. To achieve the most benefit from your crystal, wear the stone in contact with the skin, especially the targeted area.
Citrine Meaning & Properties
Citrine has been called the “stone of the mind”. Ancient cultures believed that placing a citrine on the forehead of an elder would increase his psychic power.
Citrine is known as the lucky “Merchants Stone”, owed to the fact that many businesses will keep citrine in their cash registers for good fortune. According to many legends, citrine is able dissipate negative energy and eliminate negative energy.
Citrine is sometimes used by healers to help with digestion as it is considered beneficial to the endocrine and digestive system – cleansing, purifying and eliminating poisons that have built up. Some use it to help relieve depression, digestive problems (including constipation and diabetes).
Citrine Caring and Cleaning
Citrine, like all quartz, is considered very durable, but there are still a number of other gem types capable of scratching Citrine, including Topaz, Spinel, Sapphire and Diamond.
Take caution by not wearing or storing other gems near each other, especially when engaging in physical activities like sports, exercise or even household chores. Cleaned your citrine using a mild soap and warm water. You can wipe them down using a soft cloth or brush. Be sure to rinse them well to remove any soapy residue.
As with almost all colored stones, harsh chemicals are not recommended, especially bleach and acids. Ultrasonic cleaners are typically considered safe for citrine, but steamers should be avoided owed to their sensitivity to heat. Avoid prolonged exposure to direct light or extreme temperature conditions. When storing Citrine, wrap them in a soft cloth and place them inside a fabric-lined box.
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