Birthstone November - Citrine

Citrine, also known as the “Light Maker,” is one of two gemstones for November, the other is Topaz.  Its attractive colour, plus the durability and affordability it shares with most other quartzes, make it the top-selling yellow-to-orange gem. Natural citrine is almost always a pale-yellow colour and commands a far higher price than the deep reddish orange hues of the heat-treated variety.  You'll find both types of stone creation within our own collection of fine citrine jewellery.

Most sources state that the name citrine is derived from the French ‘citron’ meaning lemon. Some sources reference the Latin ‘citrina’ meaning yellow. Its warm colour is said to be a gift from the sun, making this golden gemstone the perfect option for brightening up a typically chilly autumnal month.  Our own Autumn collection includes a section of citrine rings, bracelets and earrings.

 

A little bit of history

The term “citrine” was formally used only after 1556. Up until then, the stone had been known simply as yellow quartz (sounds much less glamorous, right?). Though the stone has an abundant history of being used in jewellery by ancient civilisations, Citrine is actually very rare today. Most Citrine seen on the market is actually Amethyst that has been heat treated to achieve a yellow hue. 

The Egyptians were among the first to discover the yellow stone and used the gems as talismans. The ancient Greeks carved iconic images into them and shaped them into rock crystal ornaments, while Roman priests made them into rings.

Citrine was also very popular for jewellery in the 19th century.  During the Art Deco period, large citrines were set in many prized pieces, including the massive and elaborate Art Deco inspired jewellery pieces made for big Hollywood stars such as Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford. 

A little bit of science

Citrine is the yellow variety of quartz and is found in igneous (rocks produced under conditions involving intense heat) and metamorphic rocks, particularly in granite and gneiss. Citrine is often found in association with amethyst, but it is much more rare than its purple cousin. Because it resists weathering, it is also found in alluvial sands and gravels. 

In its pure form, quartz is colourless and transparent. However the colours of citrine and amethyst are caused by chemical impurities. In the case of citrine, it is iron content that gives it its colour.

Natural yellow citrine is usually pale yellow and is very rare. Most commercial citrine is made by heat-treating amethyst. In fact, heat treated citrine is sometimes referred to as “burnt amethyst.”  The stone is heat sensitive and rates a 7 on the hardness scale. 

A little bit about mining and production

The most abundant sources of natural citrine are found in Bolivia, Madagascar, Mexico, Spain and Uruguay.

Amethysts that are heat-treated to a golden colour are mostly mined in Brazil, although other sources include France, Russia and the US, specifically California, Colorado and North Carolina. 

A little bit of folklore and symbolism

There are many positive attributes of Citrine when it comes to aiding the physical self. Citrine is believed to be a tonic for the circulatory system, helping cleanse the blood, as it is processed within the kidneys and other organs. It is also believed to enhance the passage of electrical impulses within the nervous system and improve the functionality of the endocrine system.  

Soaking a citrine in pure water renders an elixir, which is reported to release toxins from the body. As an elixir, citrine is also helpful for women and their menstrual problems, such as PMS and cramps.

Like Vitamin C for the soul, Citrine is thought to harness the energy of the sun, acting as a source of positive energy, lifting energy levels and invigorating the physical body.  It is also said to stimulate digestion and as with other yellow gemstones, citrine has been used to treat bladder diseases and imbalances in the thyroid gland.

Mentally, the gemstone is said to help in digesting information and analysing situations, steering the holder in the right direction. Holding a citrine assists you to remain calm in the most challenging of situations, helping you listen to and take advice from others. It is also believed to impart flexibility and openness to new experiences. 

10 fascinating facts about Citrine

  1. It is nearly impossible to tell cut citrine from the more expensive yellow topaz with the naked eye. Their main difference between the gems is in hardness, so have your gem testing tools handy.

  2. Another name for citrine is the ‘merchant stone‘. It is believed to attract prosperity and success. Some say that putting citrine into your pocket or purse will not only attract wealth, but help one maintain it as well.

  3. For a very long time citrine has been considered to have magical powers. During Medieval times it was thought to protect against the plague, snake, spider bites and evil people.

  4. Citrine is connected to two goddesses, Demeter, the Greek goddess of harvest who is associated with productivity and Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of war who is associated with power.

  5. The largest citrine weighing 2258 carats originates from Brazil and is displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington. The gem is extremely large considering that the typical size used in jewellery is under 25 carats.

  6. Brazil is the main supplier of citrines, however, they are also found in Madagascar, Zambia, Namibia, and the Ural Mountains in Russia

  7. Celebrities including Emma Watson, Kate Winslet, Naomie Harris and Tara Reid have all been photographed wearing beautiful citrine jewellery at red carpet events.

  8. In 2015, Angelina Jolie notably donated a large citrine necklace (designed by herself) to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Gem Collection.

  9. Cartier created a stunning citrine and diamond Art Deco tiara for the coronation of King George VI in 1937. The centre stone is a 62.35-carat emerald-cut citrine, which can be dismounted and worn as a clip brooch.

  10. Queen Sirikit of Thailand owns a diamond and citrine tiara and Queen Sonja of Norway received a modern, metallic, citrine tiara for her 60th birthday.

Caring for your Citrine

Take care of it in the right way and your citrine could last a lifetime. While citrine is strong enough to withstand the rigours of daily wear, care should be taken to avoid any sharp blows. The gem should be stored carefully to avoid contact with hard materials which could break, chip or scratch the gem or any softer gems which could be scratched by the citrine.

It is very important for a citrine not to be left in the sun, or for prolonged periods in sunlight or heat. Because of its sensitivity to heat, the stone’s colour could change and fade into a lighter colour. You can use any commercial jewellery cleaner or plain soap and warm water (using a soft brush) to wash your citrine. You may also have the stone cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner, however steam cleaning is not recommended.