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Definition: citrine 2 from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

(1748) : a semiprecious yellow stone resembling topaz and formed by heating a black quartz in order to change its color


Summary Article: Citrine from Guide to Gems

Natural, bright yellow citrine is the rarest of the QUARTZ varieties. Named for the old French word, citrin, meaning lemon, it has been popular for thousands of years and revered for it rarity. The ancient Romans used it for jewellery and intaglio work, and it was very popular for jewellery in the 19th century.

Citrine occurs in igneous and metamorphic rocks, particularly in granite and gneiss. It is also found in clastic sediments. Most good crystals are found as gauge minerals in mineral veins. Well-formed quartz crystals can be obtained from geodes, and from granite porphyries and pegmatites. Citrine is often found in association with AMETHYST, but it is much rarer than its purple cousin. Because it resists weathering, citirine is also found in alluvial sands and gravels.

By far the largest supplier of natural citrine is Rio Grande do Sol state in southern Brazil. Citrine mines in the US are located in North Carolina, Colorado, and California. The most valuable stones are the darkest, sometimes known as ‘Madeira citrine’ for their resemblance to the colour of fortified wine. In nature, citrine's colour is due to tiny impurities of ferrous oxide.

Today, most citrine is artificially created as amethyst, which turns yellow when heat-treated. It is difficult to distinguish natural from artificially created citrine, although heat treatment does tend to produce a slightly red tint. Because citrine is heat-sensitive, specimens should be protected from excessive exposure to heat or light. When citrine and amethyst combine in a banded stone, the gem is known as ametrine and is also popular.

Citrine is sometimes confused with TOPAZ, which is much more precious and expensive. Be wary of stones called ‘topaz quartz’, or ‘citrine topaz’, or the like, because they signal the fact that the less costly citrine is being passed off as something more valuable.

Carved citrine gem from Brazil, 12.80 carats

Large citrine crystal

© 2003 Philip's

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