Citrine has captivated many, being a top-tier worldwide jewelry option, a versatile one that can be worn in various ways — for fashion and spiritual well-being. This blog will explore this remarkable gemstone by examining its color, composition, and the differences between natural and treated citrine.
Color of Natural Citrine
The color of natural citrine ranges from pale yellow to golden orange, with some stones having a reddish or greenish tint. Iron impurities cause the color in the quartz crystal. These impurities absorb certain wavelengths of light, giving citrine its characteristic yellow color. The more iron present, the deeper and more saturated the yellow color becomes, resulting in a gemstone ranging from pale lemon to honeyed amber.
Natural citrine is relatively rare, and most of the citrine on the market is heat-treated amethyst — a variety of purple quartz. When amethyst is heated, the iron impurities in the crystal turn yellow or orange, creating citrine.
Composition of Citrine
To understand the color of citrine, it’s crucial to grasp its composition. Citrine is a variety of quartz, a silicon dioxide (SiO2) mineral. The more iron impurities present, the deeper the yellow or orange color.
This mineral can be found in various geological environments, including hydrothermal veins, pegmatites, and metamorphic rocks. It is often associated with other quartz varieties, such as amethyst and smoky quartz.
Iron and Quartz Composition
Iron is a transition metal that is found in many minerals and rocks. It is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. On the other hand, quartz is the most abundant mineral on Earth, found in various geological environments, including igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. Quartz is a hard and durable mineral, and it is often used in jewelry and other decorative items.
The incorporation of iron impurities into quartz is responsible for the delightful coloration seen in citrine. These iron atoms disrupt the crystal’s pure silicon-oxygen lattice, creating various colors, with yellow being the most prominent in citrine. The greater the concentration of iron, the more vivid and intense the yellow hue, adding to the gem’s allure.
Heat Treatment of Amethyst to Create Citrine
Exposing amethyst to high temperatures causes the iron impurities within the crystal to rearrange themselves, resulting in the yellow-to-orange hues associated with citrine. This transformation showcases quartz’s versatility and highlights heat’s importance in determining this captivating gemstone’s color.
Heat treatment of amethyst is a relatively simple process. The amethyst is heated to a temperature between 400 and 700 degrees Celsius. The heating process changes the structure of the iron impurities in the crystal, which causes the color to change from purple to yellow or orange.
Heat-treated citrine has the same chemical composition as natural citrine but is less valuable. Heat-treated citrine is often sold as citrine, so it is important to know the difference. Here are some of the differences between natural citrine and heat-treated citrine:
Color: Natural citrine has a more natural yellow or orange color. Heat-treated citrine can have a very bright or unnatural color.
Inclusions: Natural citrines often have small inclusions or blemishes. Heat-treated citrines are usually flawless.
Price: Natural citrine is more expensive than heat-treated citrine.
Different Shades of Yellow in Natural Citrine
Citrine’s beauty lies in its diverse spectrum of yellow shades. Here lies the answer to the question: what color is citrine?
Golden citrine is the most valuable and sought-after variety of citrine. It has a deep, rich yellow color that is similar to the color of gold. Golden citrine is relatively rare, and most of the citrine on the market is heat-treated amethyst.
A high concentration of iron impurities in the quartz crystal causes the golden color of citrine. The more iron present, the deeper the yellow or orange color. Golden citrine is often associated with other quartz varieties, such as amethyst and smoky quartz.
Orange citrine is another popular variety of citrine. It has a bright orange color similar to the color of citrus fruits. Orange citrine is relatively common and less expensive than golden citrine.
The orange color of citrine is caused by the presence of iron impurities in the quartz crystal. The more iron present, the deeper the yellow or orange color. Orange citrine is often associated with other quartz varieties, such as amethyst and smoky quartz.
Light Yellow Colors
Light yellow citrine is the most common variety of citrine. It has a pale, light yellow color that is similar to the color of butter. Light yellow citrine is relatively inexpensive and popular for jewelry and other decorative items.
A low concentration of iron impurities in the quartz crystal causes the light yellow color of citrine. The less iron present, the lighter the yellow color. Light yellow citrine is often associated with other quartz varieties, such as amethyst and smoky quartz.
Dark Yellow Colors
Dark yellow citrine is a rare variety of citrine. It has a deep, dark yellow color that is similar to the color of amber. Dark yellow citrine is more expensive than other varieties of citrine, and it is a popular choice for jewelry and other decorative items.
A high concentration of iron impurities in the quartz crystal causes the dark yellow color of citrine. The more iron present, the deeper the yellow or orange color. Dark yellow citrine is often associated with other quartz varieties, such as amethyst and smoky quartz.
Fake and Heat-Treated Citrines
As the popularity of citrine continues to rise, so does the presence of fake and heat-treated citrines in the market. It’s essential to distinguish between genuine and treated citrine to ensure you get the real deal.
Fake vs. Natural Citrines
Fake citrines are often created using other minerals or synthetic materials, which lack natural citrine’s genuine beauty and properties. They may appear similar in color but lack the unique charm and energy of the natural gem. To spot a fake citrine, look for signs of unnatural clarity, overly vivid color, or a price that seems too good to be true.
Weight: Fake citrines are often lighter than natural citrines of the same size.
Hardness: Natural citrine is a hard gemstone, while fake citrines are often made of softer materials, such as glass or plastic.
Here are some additional tips for distinguishing between fake and natural citrines:
Look for bubbles: Fake citrines are often made of glass, which can contain bubbles. Natural citrine does not contain bubbles.
Check for inclusions: Natural citrines often have small inclusions, such as tiny crystals or gas bubbles. Fake citrines are usually flawless.
Scratch test: Natural citrine is a hard gemstone, while fake citrines are often made of softer materials. You can test the hardness of a citrine by scratching it with a piece of steel. If the citrine can be scratched, it is likely to be fake.
Weigh the citrine: Fake citrines are often lighter than natural citrines of the same size. You can weigh a citrine to see if it is lighter than expected.
Heat-treated Amethyst to Make False Citrine
When purchasing citrine jewelry, inquire about the stone’s origin and whether it has undergone heat treatment. Authenticity ensures you get a gem that shines and carries citrine’s natural beauty and energy. Here are some points to take:
Buy from a reputable dealer: Reputable dealers can tell you whether a citrine is natural or heat-treated.
Ask for a certificate of authenticity: A certificate of authenticity will guarantee that the citrine is natural.
If you are still trying to determine whether a citrine is real or fake, it is best to have it tested by a gemologist.
Is citrine always yellow?
Yes, citrine is predominantly yellow, ranging from pale lemon to deep golden shades.
Can citrine change color over time?
Natural citrine is generally stable, but extreme heat or radiation exposure can alter its color.
Are heat-treated citrines less valuable than natural ones?
Heat-treated citrines are still valuable and beautiful but are often priced lower than natural citrines due to their treatment.
How can I tell if my citrine jewelry is real or fake?
Check for signs of unnatural clarity and overly vivid color, and ask for gemstone certifications from reputable jewelers.
Beyond Mere Beauty: What Color Is Citrine?
Aside from assessing the color of citrine, distinguishing between fake and natural citrines can also be challenging. One can test features such as color, inclusions, and refractive index to increase accuracy and compare them to heat-treated amethyst, glass imitations, or dyed and coated stones. Furthermore, consulting a qualified gemologist is a reliable option to confirm authenticity and ensure the purchase of genuine citrine.
However, it is important to be aware that some individuals may need to refrain from using citrine as it may not suit certain situations. Check out our detailed guide to determine who should not wear citrine stones.
Cynthia met Brian during one of their aid work on Typhoon Katrina, and they have been inseparable since. They both believe that Living By Example could be the best platform there is to write about subjects that will help people connect with others and give them a deeper understanding of different societies and cultures.