Taos Rockers
229 A Camino de la Placita, Taos, NM, 87571

Birthstones: Citrine

 Citrine ~ November Birthstone

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Natural Citrine point. Photography: Loren Warn. In natural citrine look for a “white wine” colour and an even color distribution.

Natural Citrine point. Photography: Loren Warn. In natural citrine look for a “white wine” colour and an even color distribution.


Formula: SiO2

Colour: Yellow - Orange

Lustre: Vitreous

Hardness: 7

Crystal System: Trigonal

Name: From citrina (color as yellow as citron). The name “citrine” replaced the standard name of “yellow quartz” in 1556. Although the name has a number of potential sources, all of them relate to citrus and are once again a nod to the stone’s orange-based hues. One of the most likely sources for the name is the French word “citron,” meaning lemon.

A variety of Quartz

A yellow to yellow-orange or yellow-green variety of quartz. 

The cause of the color is still under debate. At least some citrine is colored by aluminum-based and irradiation-induced color centers related to those found in smoky quartz (Lehmann, 1972; Maschmeyer et al., 1980). Accordingly, transitions to smoky quartz ("smoky citrine") exist, many citrines show smoky phantoms. Like smoky quartz, these types of citrines pale when heated above 200-500°C and turn yellow again when irradiated (Lehmann, 1970). There appear to be at least two types of yellow Al-based color centers with different thermal stability (Schmetzer, 1988). Since the yellow color centers are often more stable than the smoky color centers, some smoky quartz can be turned into citrine by careful heating (Nassau and Prescott, 1977). Natural citrine, as well as citrine produced by heating smoky quartz, is dichroic in polarized light.

It has also been suggested that iron is the cause of color, as artificial crystals grown in an iron-bearing solution turn out yellow. However, the dichroic behavior of the lab-grown crystals differs from that in natural citrine (Rossmann, 1994). 

Heat-treated Amethyst (Citrine) Color is typically more concentrated in the points and orange color is often mixed with clear and white bases.

Heat-treated Amethyst (Citrine) Color is typically more concentrated in the points and orange color is often mixed with clear and white bases.

Note: Natural citrine is very rare. Large quantities of amethyst, usually of lesser quality, are heated to turn it yellow or orange and sold as "citrine." Because the color is now caused by finely distributed iron minerals (mostly hematite and goethite), heated amethyst is not citrine in the strict sense, and also shows no dichroism in polarized light.
Thin coatings of iron oxides on colourless quartz, as well as inclusions of yellow iron oxides ("limonite"), may simulate citrine.

Natural Citrine is not common and occurs sparingly in many large Quartz deposits. Most commercial gem-grade material comes from Rio Grande do Sul and Minas Gerais, Brazil, but almost all of the Brazilian material is heat treated Amethyst.

A classic exhausted locality for natural Citrine is Olkhovka in the Northern Ural Mountains, Russia. Other locations where natural Citrine is found is San Cristobal, Santander, Colombia; Lubumbashi in Katanga (Shaba), Congo (Zaire); Antananarivo Province, Madagascar; Salamanca, Spain; and Dauphine, France. In Boekenhoutshoek (Magaliesberg), Mkobola district, South Africa, a unique form of natural Citrine is found together with Amethyst that has a spiky overgrowth of small crystals popularly called "Cactus Quartz".

Visit gemdat.org for gemological information about Citrine.

The autumn inspired beauty, mystical charms and natural rarity make this November birthstone a must have for any jewelry collection. It is also the Planetary stone for the Sun Sign of Virgo and the accepted gem for the 13th and 17th wedding anniversary. Citrine boasts beautiful autumn hues that can range from light yellow to bright orange to reddish brown. Darker golden colors, including medium golden orange, are typically considered more rare, and as a result, more valuable.

The history of ornamental citrine dates back to thousands of years. According to both Roman Catholic and Latin versions of the Old Testament, citrine was referred as chrysolitus, Greek for golden stone, which was considered as one of the twelve stones studded in the breastplate of Aaron. In Ancient Greece, the stone was used as a decorative gem during the Hellenistic Age between 300 and 150 B.C. In addition, 17th century Scottish men used citrine on the handles of daggers and swords for decorative purposes. However, there is also record of entire sword handles that were crafted from citrine. More recently, citrine was particularly popular during the Art Deco era between World War I and World War II. During this time, movie stars wore oversized and elaborate citrine jewelry. It’s interesting to note that in all these cultures, citrine is said to radiate positive energy and is known as the “success stone.” Perhaps the Scottish men knew what they were doing when they infused their weapons with this spectacularly golden gem.

The gem is associated with health, prosperity, creativity, protection, truth, generosity and comfort. It is known as the ‘Merchant’s Stone’ and ‘the stone of the mind’. The gem is believed to have great mystical and healing powers. It is considered as a tonic for detoxifying and purifying the body. Carrying the warmth of the sun, citrine is thought to burn out all the negative energy, fears and phobias while increasing the emotional and intellectual balance.

Although, the yellow rock was quite popular among the royals, the world’s affair with citrines started in 1930’s when expatriate agate cutters from Idar-Oberstein in Germany sent home huge amount of citrine from Brazil and Uruguay, along with agate and amethyst. Today, citrine is primarily used for its color and clarity in designer jewelry pieces and is crafted into a variety of designs. The majority of modern day citrine comes from Brazil; however, natural citrine can also be found in the Ural Mountains of Russia, France and Madagascar, among other places.

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