As we enter the darker winter months, November's birthstone citrine offers a ray of sunshine. Here, Gemmology Tutor, Lily Faber FGA DGA EG, explores the properties and folklore around this sunny gemstone.
Citrine is a type of crystalline quartz that comes in many different hues of yellow, from a pale shade to a stronger orangey or even brown-tinged yellow. Prized for its sunny appearance, citrine has maintained popularity in the gem trade, especially in cocktail jewellery.
Citrine in Light Weaver™ cut. Image Courtesy of John Dyer and Co. Photo Credit Lydia Dyer.
Said to hold the power of the sun, citrine is believed by many to counteract depression and phobias. It is known as a gemstone that can help you remain calm in stressful situations, attract good things and positivity into one’s life, and to cleanse the negative energy from one’s home.
A little known fact is that citrine that is offered on the market is most often amethyst that has been heat-treated to promote that golden colour. Natural citrine can be difficult to find, despite quartz being one of the most abundant gem materials in the earth’s crust. It is found worldwide, but some more important localities of note are Brazil, India, Madagascar and Sri Lanka.
Crystals and Inclusions
Citrine can be found as stand-alone crystals or as a geode containing multiple crystals within a rocky pocket. If sold as an individual crystal, citrine will have a hexagonally shaped prism with a pyramidal termination and slightly thicker base. There may be fractures within the crystal that cause iridescence, and the surface may feature striations that run horizontally across the prism faces (if the surfaces have not been polished).
Citrine, cut by John Dyer & Co. Image © John Dyer & Co.
Inclusions in citrine can be highly variable. However, it mostly has similar inclusions to those in amethyst, such as tiger stripes, straight colour-zoning, incipient fractures (mentioned above), crystals and two-phase inclusions consisting of a liquid and a gas, or a solid crystal and a liquid.
Care and Caution
Quartz is a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, endowing it with the ability to be set into any piece of jewellery, whether it is a ring, necklace or earrings. Considered hard, citrine will resist scratches and abrasions, but it is not impervious to these attacks and care should still be taken when wearing it in everyday life.
Citrine in Dreamscape™ cut. Courtesy of John Dyer & Co. Photo Credit: Lydia Dyer.
Whether you like the appearance or the meanings behind it, citrine is a fantastic gem that can hold a high polish while bestowing anyone’s jewels with a kiss of sunshine. Lucky are those who were born in November and can lay to claim such a lovely gem as their birthstone.
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Cover image: Cognac Citrine Dreamscape™ 33.71 cts. Image Courtesy of John Dyer & Co. Photo Credit: Lydia Dyer.
Did you think this might be emerald? You certainly wouldn't be the first to confuse the vibrant green of dioptase with the more recognisable, jewellery-lover's gemstone. Here, Gem-A assistant gemmology tutor, Dr Juliette Hibou FGA, explains more about the history, properties and origins of dioptase, an unusual collector's gem.