Citrine Gemstone | Gemopedia


Citrine is one of the most valuable and popular gemstones in the quartz group. While many citrines on the market today are actually heated amethyst or smoky quartz, citrine does occur naturally in beautiful golden and brownish-orange hues. It's also possible that quartz crystals that grew naturally as amethyst or smoky quartz were turned into citrine by natural heat from nearby magma activity.


Citrine is a hard, tough stone best cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Ultrasonic cleaners are usually safe for citrine, but because some citrine is heat treated, steam cleaners should be avoided to prevent color loss.


Citrine is the golden orange variety of quartz, occurring in (or heated to achieve) shades of light to dark yellow, orangey gold, and golden brown. Many citrines are actually heat-treated amethysts from Minas Gerais in Brazil, because purple amethyst crystals turn golden-brown when heated. In some places in Brazil, brownish amethysts are laid out on roofs or buried in dirt to let the heat of the sun naturally alter their color.











As is the case with most colored stones, it is primarily the intensity and saturation of color that determines citrine's value.

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Name Origin and Meaning

Replacing the simple name of yellow quartz, the name "citrine" was officially adopted for this stone in 1556 when German metallurgist Georg Bauer, known to some as "the father of modern mineralogy," used it in a publication about gemstones and jewelry. The word "citrine" has a few potential sources, all related to citrus fruits. The most likely root of this word is from the old French word citron, meaning "yellow," or the Latin word citrus, in reference to citrus fruit. Around the 17th century, both citrine and smoky quartz were called "cairngorm" after their source in the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. "Madeira citrine" is the term used for darker, orangey-brown citrines, so named because they share their color with Madeira wine.


Citrine has been used ornamentally on tools and in jewelry for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, the stone now known as citrine first gained popularity as a decorative gem during the Hellenistic Age, roughly between 300 and 150 B.C. In the 17th century, Scottish weapon makers used citrine to adorn dagger handles, sometimes even using a single large citrine crystal as the handle itself. Read More.

In 1852, after Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, they built Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands. Because she was so fond of her new home and Scotland in general, the queen often had parties for which she required her guests to dress in full Highlands attire. This gave Victoria a good opportunity to share another of her loves: gemstones found within her kingdom, citrine in particular. As a result, citrines set in traditional Highlands shoulder brooches and kilt pins became popular.

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Some Biblical scholars believe that citrine was the tenth of 12 stones in Aaron's breastplate described in the book of Exodus. The stone was referred to as chrysolitus (Greek for "golden stone") in both Roman Catholic and Latin versions of the Old Testament, leading to some confusion over whether it was citrine, topaz, or beryl. However, in the King James Version, the tenth stone is referred to as beryl, meaning it would be heliodor, and modern scholars believe the stone was actually topaz. Read more about citrine.


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