Learn about the Gemstone Citrine and its use in Jewelry

Citrine is a type of gemstone with a yellow to orangish color. It is one of the November birthstones, along with the gemstone Topaz. Citrine, just like any other gemstone, is used in jewelry and is combined with other stones as well to create a more striking design. In this article, we will look at the origin of citrine, its uses, places with a large deposit of citrine, its uses in jewelry, and some interesting facts about the gemstone.  


The name citrine was a general name given for yellow gemstones in the early 1300s. One of the popular yellow gemstones, Topaz, has always been mistaken for citrine. Because of this, citrine, which is originally a type of quartz, has been given names such as gold topaz or Spanish Topaz. 

Ancient Greeks believed that the citrine gemstone holds the power of the sun. So, they carved the gemstone into glowing intaglios to honor the Greek God of the sun and other mythical legends connected to the sun. 

In Great Britain, particularly in the 17th century, the use of citrine has been popular and a personal favorite of Queen Victoria. Since then, citrine has been used as a traditional gemstone used in shoulder brooches, kilt pins, and daggers’ hilts. 

Mineralogists discovered in the 18th century that other types of quartz can be heat-treated to form citrine with lemony and golden honey hues. This marked the beginning of the contribution of heat-treated citrine to the market. 

Chemical Composition


Citrine is formed during the formation period of quartz. When a higher temperature is combined with quartz formation, three types of quartz are formed: amethyst (blue to purple), prasiolite (light green in color), and citrine (pale yellow, orange, and brown). Because citrine is a type of quartz that requires a much higher temperature to form, it is a rare type of quartz compared with amethyst and prasiolite. The presence of iron molecules during the crystal formation in citrine gives it its yellowish color. 

However, you may argue that a vast majority of citrine is present in the market today. While this is true, the majority of citrine available in the market is commonly heat-treated amethysts or smoky quartz and not pure citrine occurring naturally. They are changed by using 800-900 degrees Fahrenheit of heat. The process of heat-treating crystals such as amethyst and smoky quartz is also called “baking”. 

Citrine measures 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and 1.5 on the refractive index, or the measure of a gemstone’s sparkle. Citrine has a brittle tenacity and an indiscernible cleavage (refers to the tendency of a material to split).  

Why use an Amethyst or Smoky Quartz to form Citrine?

As mentioned, naturally occurring citrines are rare; and because amethysts and smoky quartz often come in pale and abundant, they are a great choice for making darker-colored stones similar to citrine. Darker-colored citrines are not only popular with merchants but also a popular gemstone being used in pieces of jewelry. References say that 90% of citrine in the market at the present is heat-treated and typically produces gold, bright yellow, bright orange, pale orange, and burnt orange colors. They do not always have a uniform color compared to pure citrine.  

Difference between a Topaz and a Citrine

Since a citrine is often confused with a Topaz, it would be best to know the difference between the two. Although a Topaz is known for its blue and red assortment, the primary thing that confuses people with the gemstones is its yellow color variety. It is important to know that even though the two have the same yellow variety, citrine has a transparent yellow or orangey appearance while Topaz has a more sparkly yellow color. Another important characteristic between the two is that Topaz is its mineral, while Citrine is only a variety of mineral quartz. Topaz measures 8 on Mohs Hardness Scale, which makes it harder compared to Citrine. Also, even though citrine is rare and most of it is heat-treated, yellow citrines are common and are not something to be shocked by, while yellow Topaz is rare. 

General Cost

Natural citrines are more expensive since they are rare. Pure lighter citrines ranging from colors light gray, light brown, or almost clear color are considered the lower quality of citrines. Higher quality citrines are colors pale yellow, deep brown, light brown, and light gray. Their cost can range up to $30 per carat. Heat-treated Citrines, on the other hand, can be bought from $10 to $50 per carat. 

Places with Large Deposits of Citrine


Large deposits of commercial citrine, as well as other types of quartz like Amethyst, are found in Brazil. Other places where citrine can be mined are Bolivia, Argentina, Madagascar, California, North Carolina, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Uruguay, and Colorado. 

Uses in Jewelry

Heat-treated citrines are abundant and consumed widely in the market. They are affordable and are also used as center pieces for jewelries. They are made into rings, necklaces, brooches, and other pieces of jewelry. They are easily carved and since they have indiscernible cleavage; they are mostly available in large sizes. Pieces of citrine can also be added to clothing such as wardrobes and gowns. Citrine is also used to mix with a piece of gold jewelry to enhance the appearance of the item.  

Interesting Facts

  • The gemstone citrine is associated with positivity and optimism. This is why ancient people such as the Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans commonly used gemstones as rings or carved iconic images using them. 
  • It is the birthstone connected with the astrological sign Scorpio. 
  • Citrine gemstone is a traditional gift and gemstone for celebrating a 13th wedding anniversary. 
  • It is referred to as the “Merchant’s stone” because it symbolizes prosperity, wealth, and good fortune.  
  • The word citrine is believed to originated from the French word “citron” which means lemon. 
  • Madeira Citrine is a name given to reddish-colored Citrines and is derived from wines in Madeira with a similar color.  
  • The word “citrine” only came to be recognized in 1556. 
  • During medieval times, citrine is believed to have magical powers to defend against snake bites, spider bites, and bad people. 
  • You can find the world’s largest citrine display weighing 2,258 carats in Smithsonian in Washington. 
  • Citrine needs extra care, as they are easily scratched and the color tends to fade when exposed to the sun.

Final Thoughts

Most Citrine available in the market is heat-treated Amethyst or Smoky Quartz. It is the easiest solution to make sure that pure citrines that occur rarely will never lose value in the market. Heat-treated Amethysts or Smoky Quartz are still considered Citrine even if they are heat-treated commercially.