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.

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.