As the majority of the country heads into cooler temperatures of late fall/early winter, November’s OTHER birthstone, citrine, provides a much needed burst of sunshine. The warm, sunny color of this popular gemstone inspired its name, derived from the French word “citron,” meaning “lemon”. If you missed my post on topaz, the other November birthstone, read about it here.
This November birthstone comes in the colors of citrus fruits, ranging from deep reddish orange, reminiscent of Madeira wines, to pale and saturated yellow hues. The first recorded used of citrine as a color in English was 1386. It was borrowed from a medieval Latin and classical Latin word with the same meaning. The color evolved over time to describe the gemstone of today, a “reddish or brownish yellow”.
People have used quartz in jewelry for thousands of years. Egyptians gathered ornately striped agates from the shore and used them as talismans, the ancient Greeks carved rock crystal ornaments that glistened like permafrost, and the hands of Roman pontiffs bore rings set with huge purple amethysts. Citrine was carried as protection against snake venom and evil thoughts. It was also believed citrine may heighten awareness.
While it is a common gemstone, natural citrine is rare, and today most citrine quartz is the result of heat treatment of amethyst quartz. Even so, naturally colored gems from the Victorian era have surfaced and it’s not hard to imagine that citrine was treasured even in earlier times.
Brazil is the main source for this gemstone, but it is also found in many African countries such as Zambia, Namibia and Madagascar.
Citrine is part of the mineral species quartz, along with sibling gemstones amethyst, rose quartz, smoky quartz, rock crystal quartz and tiger’s eye quartz. Much of the citrine on the market today is actually amethyst that has been heat-treated to turn it yellow. Occasionally, you will hear citrine referred to as topaz however, topaz is a different mineral as you know from reading my post on topaz. Both citrine and topaz are birthstones for November and the colors of yellow topaz and citrine can easily be confused.
Citrine’s attractive color, plus the durability and affordability it shares with most other quartzes, makes it the top selling yellow-to-orange gem. A saturated yellow to reddish orange color free of brownish tints is prized in citrine, although in the contemporary market, citrine’s most popular shade is an earthy hue, a deep brownish or reddish orange.
The citrine Capri Bracelet by Seaman Schepps.
Seaman Schepps citrine and diamond vine bracelet.
Verdura “Candy” citrine and chrome green tourmaline ring.
Goshwara Gossip citrine earrings.
Elizabeth Locke Venetian glass lion intaglio and citrine brooch.
Goshwara citrine and peridot band.
A pair of retro citrine brooches by Paul Flato.
Taffin sapphire and citrine flower brooches.