Buyer's Guide to Citrine Gemstones

Shining with a golden glow, people have long treasured citrine as a gift from the sun. Citrine, a variety of transparent quartz, is named after the French citron, or lemon. Its color ranges from a juicy lemon yellow to a dark rich honey gold. In all of its glorious golden and yellow colors, it lights up your jewelry with a fresh squeeze of warm sunny shades.

Citrine is generally more affordable than amethyst, its quartz cousin. Like all quartz gems, citrine is relatively plentiful and is available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, including very large sizes. The Smithsonian has a 19,548-carat smoky citrine faceted by Mike Gray that’s the largest faceted gemstone by volume. That’s 8.7 pounds! A stylish cuff bracelet by Suzanne Belperron set with a 160-carat citrine sold for $120,000 at Fortuna auction house in 2018.

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The History and Meaning of Citrine

What does wearing citrine jewelry mean in the language of gems? Citrine symbolizes optimism. In ancient times, citrine was said to have the power to protect against the venom of evil words and thoughts and even defend against snakebite.

Citrine was particularly popular in the retro jewelry of the 1940s. Its sunny color and dramatic proportions suited the streamlined style and bold gold of the era. It was often set with ruby, peridot, and aquamarine in colorful brooches, necklaces and bracelets. Jewelry designers today also love to set citrine in yellow gold, either alone or in combination with amethyst, blue topaz, or peridot.

Joan Crawford’s spectacular suite of jewelry set with 350 carats of citrine, which the actress commissioned in 1940 from Raymond Yard, is a stunning example of the bold dramatic citrine jewels of the period. The suite sold at Sotheby’s for $56,000 in 2012.

Angelina Jolie has donated a citrine necklace from her Style of Jolie collection to the Smithsonian Institution. The Jolie Citrine Necklace, which features a 177.11-carat pear-shaped citrine drop, is displayed in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals along with the Hope Diamond, the Star of Asia sapphire and other famous gems.

Where Citrine is Mined

Most citrine on the market today is mined in Brazil. Bolivia has also become a leading producer: the country also produces a unique bicolor yellow and purple quartz called ametrine that is a combination of amethyst and citrine. Citrine is also mined in African countries including Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia.

Citrine is rare in nature. Many citrines start out as amethysts that are heat-treated to turn yellow to yellowish brown. You should assume that your citrine has been heated. The yellow color is stable under normal wear.

In the days before modern gemology, citrine was often confused with topaz. Sometimes you will hear citrine referred to as topaz quartz. Many yellow gems have been called topaz over the years. Since topaz is a separate mineral, the industry has ruled to eliminate this name as confusing.

Today, citrine’s beautiful color, availability, durability and affordability, makes it the most popular yellow-to-orange gem.

Why We Love Citrine

Citrine, an alternative birthstone for the month of November, is available in a wide range of sizes and shapes so it is very inspiring to jewelry designers. Citrine is the gemstone for the 13th anniversary.

Citrine is easy to love thanks to its warm color, large variety of sizes and shapes, affordability, and lovely golden shades. Citrine matches yellow gold beautifully and also stands out against white gold and sterling silver. It’s the gemstone neutral: it looks good with everything in your closet too.

How to Buy Citrine

When you are shopping for citrine jewelry, color is the most important value factor: the more vivid and bright the golden hue, the more valuable the citrine.

Citrine ranges from a light pastel yellow to a dark reddish orange. The best quality of citrine has a saturated golden hue with fiery orange flashes inside. A saturated yellow to reddish orange color free of brownish tints is prized in citrine. Deep reddish orange colors are often called Madeira citrine.

At RockHer, we’ve matched our preferred citrine colors to Pantone’s system to communicate the range of golden hues available. Which is your favorite?

Look for eye clean citrine gemstones with no prominent inclusions, which will be visible due to citrines light color. Since citrine is widely available you shouldn't have to sacrifice on quality.

Cut quality is very important for the beauty of citrine gemstones: a well-cut citrine will sparkle evenly across the entire gemstone with no dull, washed out, or lifeless areas.

Citrine Buying Guide Checklist

  • Citrine Color: Medium saturated orangy yellow
  • Citrine Clarity: Eye clean
  • Citrine Shapes: Oval and rounds are most common
  • Citrine Cut: Well proportioned, with overall brilliance
  • Citrine Polish: Excellent
  • Citrine Treatment: Heat

How to Care for Citrine

Citrine is a fairly durable gemstone with a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale. Its facets will slowly wear down over the generations because the dust in the air is quartz too. Although citrine’s color is stable, avoid exposure to high heat. Take care not to knock the gem when you wear a citrine ring since it can chip.

To keep your citrine jewelry clean, don't wear it when applying lotion or creams or while using cleaning products like cleanser. Store all your gemstone jewelry separately, especially when travelling, so gems and metal can’t scratch each other. Clean with mild dish soap in water: use a soft brush behind the stone where dust can collect.

Citrine vs Yellow Sapphire

The yellow gem most similar to citrine is yellow sapphire. Sapphire is much harder than citrine, with a Mohs hardness of 9, and also more durable. But yellow sapphire is more rare and expensive than citrine too. Fine large examples can be thousands of dollars per carat.

Best Citrine Engagement Ring Styles

The most popular citrine engagement ring style is a diamond halo ring with a pave band. Large citrine solitaires are a bold alternative. Three stone citrine engagement rings most often have a round, emerald cut or or oval citrine in the center and pear shaped or round diamonds on the side. Citrine is complemented by all three colors of gold: white gold, yellow gold and rose gold.

You’d be surprised how far your money can go shopping for a citrine engagement ring. Here are our picks for our favorite citrine rings.