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How to Evaluate the Quality of Citrine

Updated on August 16, 2016

Citrine is a transparent gemstone variety of quartz, and like most quartz gemstones, is popular for both its durability and affordability. Its name, derived from the French word “citron,” which means “lemon,” refers to the sunny yellow hue that distinguishes this gem from other varieties of quartz. It is one of the birthstones for the month of November, and is traditionally associated with success and good fortune. Prior to the advent of modern gemological analysis, citrine was sometimes confused with topaz, which is a completely different mineral.


Naturally occurring citrine is found primarily in Brazil, although deposits exist in many other places such as Russia, France, and Madagascar. The stone gets its hue from the presence of iron ions. Colors of citrine can range from pale, smoky yellow through gold and orange all the way to a dark reddish brown. Much of the citrine on the market is actually produced by heat-treating amethyst or smoky quartz. This type of treatment is common, typically performed at the mine site, and won’t fade with time. However, the rarity of untreated citrine means that a natural, untreated stone of exceptional hue will fetch a higher price than a similar, heat-treated stone.

In general, the more saturated the color of a citrine, the more valuable it will be. Currently, the most expensive shade of citrine is a deep orange-red color. Citrine is readily available in both large sizes and without visible inclusions, so there is no reason to settle for a stone that has any imperfections visible to the naked eye. Dealers of citrines will look for even color and clarity throughout the stone.

Because citrine has a hardness of seven on the Mohs scale, it is suitable for all kinds of jewelry, including rings you plan to wear frequently. Although the stone does not require special care, you should avoid exposing citrine to harsh chemicals, hard blows, or abrasive materials. According to the experts at Auction King, citrine can easily be found in various sizes and cuts for jewelry, with the most popular shapes being faceted ovals and emerald cuts. However, high-end jewelry designers have also been known to fashion the stone into unique, intricate cuts for one-of-kind pieces.

With the fascinating variety of shades, styles, and sizes of citrine readily available, a purchaser can easily find attractive options on the market. Citrine was popular in both Victorian times and in the Art Deco period, so collectors hunting for unusual pieces may want to check auctions or consignment sales for unique vintage items. As with any fine jewelry, you will want to obtain a certificate of authenticity from a third-party lab before buying to verify the value of the piece you have in mind. Whether you prefer contemporary or antique styles, however, citrine is a beautiful stone that can be worn and enjoyed every day.


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