The Jewelry Insider

November 14, 2008

Citrine is the most affordable of all the earth-toned gemstones, thanks to its durability and availability. It has become increasingly popular with budget-minded women looking to expand their work and leisure jewelry wardrobes.

Citrine, a form of quartz, derives its name from the French word for lemon, “citron.” It is available in a range of golden hues from lemon to straw to sun yellow to gold, as well as oranges, browns, and deep madeira red. It is generally more inexpensive than amethyst and is also available in a wide range of calibrated sizes and shapes, including very large sizes.

Citrine’s lively colors can brighten almost any jewelry style, and it blends especially well with yellow gold. Its low cost makes it an ideal stone for popular free-form fancy cuts for one-of-a-kind and customized pieces. And good cut is as important in determining citrine’s quality as it is for more expensive yellow counterparts, such as yellow sapphire.

As with other stones, citrine in very large sizes (above three carats) in rich, deep colors has always been rare and therefore the most valuable form of the gem. Although this stone’s dark orange and red shades traditionally have been the most prized, its bright lemony hues have become very popular in recent years because they mix better with pastel colors.

In ancient times, citrine was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts. It was also thought to give calmness and mental balance to its wearer.

Citrine is the birthstone for November, as well as recommended jewelry gift for couples celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary.

Most citrine is mined in Brazil. Supplies are most plentiful in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, particularly from the Serra mine. The Ira’ mine also produces large quantities of the gem.

These stones generally start life as either smoky quartz or amethyst geodes. Heat treatments first turn them clear and then give them a permanent color ranging from yellow to brownish red.

Sometimes citrine is referred to as topaz quartz, which is incorrect. The name refers to the color, which is sometimes similar to topaz. But since topaz is a separate mineral, the name could be confusing and should not be used.

Occasionally, Mother Nature combines the colors of amethyst and citrine into a single gemstone called ametrine.

With a ranking of “7” on the Mohs scale of hardness (from 1-10, with “10” representing a diamond, the hardest mineral on earth), citrine has excellent durability and is suitable for everyday wear. However, since much of the citrine on the market today has been heat treated to improve its color, it should be kept away from prolonged exposure to strong light or heat.

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