I love to work with Citrine. Who couldn't fail to appreciate it's sunny presence? But what's behind this honey coloured beauty? Here are my top five reasons for loving November's birthstone.
1. Amethyst's kissing cousin
Both Citrine and Amethyst are varieties of Quartz - the second most common mineral in the earth's crust. The majority of quartz is formed in igneous rocks when molten magma pushes through from volcanic activity and it cools to form crystals. Quartz is also found in metamorphic rocks and in sedimentary rocks on sites of previous volcanic activity. Pure quartz is colourless but when it forms it usually includes impurities - typically iron - which gives it colour. The only real difference between Amethyst (purple quartz) and Citrine is the rate of oxidization of iron impurities in their make up. Sounds simple, but it depends on a complex combination of temperature, pressure, crystal orientation, and oxygen. Isn't Mother Nature amazing?
2. A piece of Scottish history
Although today the biggest supplier of natural citrine is Brazil (as well as Africa, Russia, the US and Europe), one of my favourite reasons to love Citrine is its historical link with Scotland! It was once mined in the Cairngorms and was especially popular with Scottish weapon makers in the 16-17th Centuries who used it to decorate the handles of swords and daggers.
3. Royal Patronage
Citrine's link with Scotland was furthered by the patronage of Queen Victoria. The Queen loves all things Scottish and this extended to her love of Cairngorm Citrine. She inspired a fashion for jewellery, Scottish kilt pins and shoulder brooches all featuring the gemstone.
4. That colour!
Natural untreated citrine is distinguished by its clarity and even pale yellow hue, but Citrine can range in colour from pale straw to golden yellow, and through to deep golden honey tones. Some citrine may contain rainbow or sparkle inclusions giving it a touch of ‘magic’.
Prior to the mid 16th century Citrine was usually referred to as Yellow or Lemon Quartz, and frequently confused with Topaz. It was officially christened in 1556 by the father of modern mineralogy, Georg Bauer. He chose the name from the Latin 'citrus' and the French word 'citron' meaning lemon or lemon coloured. Wonder how long he spent thinking of that one?!
If you see Citrine that has a reddish tint and is a very dark honey colour, it is most likely to be heat treated Amethyst or Smokey Quartz! Heat treating a gemstone to enhance colour, or to nudge its chemical composition and turn it into its cousin, is common practice in the gemstone trade.
5. A Ray of Sunshine and Positivity
Citrine's colour alone is enough to make you smile - the kind of feeling we get when the sun comes out and the rain clouds disperse. I like to think of Citrine as the gemstone equivalent of the Power of Positive Thinking.
Sometimes referred to as the Merchant's Stone, Citrine is not only associated with positivity but also with prosperity and wealth.