At first, citrine was thought to be topaz because of its yellowish color. But in the middle of the 18th century the researcher Valerius discovered the so-called golden variety of quartz and identified this mineral as a separate type.
In fact, citrine is a type of quartz. In nature, this is a quite rare mineral. Natural colors of citrine are pale yellow, lemon-yellow (Lat. “citrus”), or amber honey. This property is due to inclusions of iron and aluminum in the stone structure. If you look at the stone at different angles of light refraction, you will notice how the color may vary. Natural citrine is presented by perfectly transparent crystals.
Citrine and its peculiarities
You can often hear the jewelers call golden-yellow citrine “golden topaz” and brownish-yellow – “Spanish topaz”. Faceted citrine looks like topaz. This fact actually caused some confusion when the stone was discovered. But unlike citrine, topaz has a greater degree of hardness and density, cleavage structure, as well as more pronounced ability to change color at different angles of light refraction (pleochroism).
Citrine with the most rare, sunny yellow color, similar to thick honey or a drop of wine is called “Madeira” (or “Imperial”). Ametrines are zoned crystals, in which there are alternating color patches of citrine and amethyst.
Absolutely transparent citrines are given combined or diamond shape cut and opaque crystals are given table cut. The crystals with cracks and more muddy rocks with different inclusions are treated with cabochon.
In addition to natural mineral, today you can also find citrine, which is obtained in various ways. For example, by refining crystalline quartz: thermal treatment is carried out by heating the mineral up to 500C, after that the stone changes its structure. Amethyst and smoky quartz are treated at the temperature of 300-400C, and for the rock crystal irradiation methods are used. Note that all citrines, resulted from heat treatment, will have “thicker” color and in some cases you may notice a reddish tint. Also, in order to obtain pale yellow citrine crystals, chestnut brown christopaz is used, and deep-orange samples with orange chatoyancy are obtained from purple amethyst. Note that the artificially produced “citrines” tend not to change color at different angles of refraction.
Methods of obtaining citrine were curious during the reign of Catherine II. For instance, large crystals of quartz were put in an oven and baked it in dough to prevent cracks. Ready crystals of “citrine” were taken out only after the dough cooled down. Small crystals were put in jugs, covered with ashes and left overnight in a preheated oven.
The use of citrine
In the 19th century citrine was used for manufacturing of carved seals that sealed the letter. This mineral, set in a collet of gold, looked very beautiful. Today citrines are used to make jewelry, rare mosaics and other exclusive products. For example, there is a collection of very expensive citrine jewelry of Italian designer Aida Vitta, while the famous jewelry house of Spain «Carrera y Carrera» presented a collection of jewelry «Sol y Sombra» (“Sun and Shadow”). In this collection big round citrines “Madeira” enchased in “rays” of gold were used in jewelry. Citrine harmonizes with chrysolite, blue topaz, amethyst and gold.
Wonder of nature
The world’s largest citrine, weighing more than 20 thousand carats was found in Brazil. It was declared as a miracle of nature. This stone is called Malaga, because exactly in this city it was presented at the exhibition. But at the Smithsonian University you can see citrine weighing 2,258 carats.
The main deposits of citrine are Brazil (Bahia, Minas Gerais, Goiás), the island of Madagascar, Spain, the USA, France, Kazakhstan, Great Britain, Russia (Ural).