Citrine is the yellow variety of quartz that varies in colour from light golden through to deep burnt orange tones, known as Madeira Citrine. Most citrine that is commercially available today has been heat treated from amethyst and this is assumed unless stated otherwise.
The large range of yellow to orange tones which citrine covers means that almost any stone in this colour range may be mistaken with citrine. Some of these stones may include; precious/imperial topaz, yellow beryl (heliodor), zircon, hessonite garnet, grossular garnet, amber, scapolite and yellow sapphire.
In some Asian markets, citrine may have been sold under the misnomer ‘yellow topaz’ Thankfully, this practice is becoming less common. While high-quality, natural and untreated citrine is quite rare, the heat treated variety is abundant and affordable in an array of shapes and sizes from the very small stones (1.5mm) through to very large stones weighing 100’s of carats each. For many decades now, synthetic quartz has been commercially available in a range of colours, including the shades of citrine. Use of synthetic citrine is dissuaded in the jewellery trade due to the equally low prices of both natural (heat treated) and synthetic citrine versus the difficult and sometimes costly gemmological analysis needed to distinguish them.
Mohs’ Hardness: 7
Specific Gravity: 2.65-2.66
Refractive Index: 1.544-1.553
Optic Sign & Character: Uniaxial Positive
ICA Code: N or E
Incidence: Very often
Purpose: Usually by changing the colour of amethyst
Detection: Microscopy – Can be difficult to detect
Special Care: Normal Care
Synthetics: Hydrothermal Growth
Possible Imitations: Synthetic Sapphire and CZ