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Citrine Gemstones – 10 Things You Need to Know

Yellow citrine FAQs

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Citrine is the most popular yellow gemstone and is frequently used for both jewelry and decoration. Often associated with the sun and viewed as a November birthstone, citrine may not be as valuable or prestigious as some other gemstones in the jewelry world, and yet it remains a highly sought-after gemstone.

Let’s take a look at the factors you need to know before purchasing citrine. Below, we’ve listed the 10 most frequently asked questions about citrine and their answers.

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1. What are citrine gemstones?

Citrine gemstone engagement ring

Citrine gemstone ring. See it here.

Citrine is a yellow variety of quartz. Its name is based on the Old French word for “lemon” which is fitting given citrine’s citrus-yellow color. Citrine looks very similar to the yellow variation of topaz and the two are often mistaken.

While citrine is not a precious gemstone, it’s classified as a “semi-precious” one. It is one of the most popular and sought after semi-precious gemstones, second only to blue topaz (and preferred over yellow topaz).

This puts citrine in the rather nice position of being both popular and relatively affordable. Anyone who appreciates the gorgeous bright yellow color of citrine can get as much of this gemstone as they want without breaking the bank.

2. What is the best color for citrine?

Citrine’s color can range anywhere from faint yellow to a deep brownish hue. That’s because citrine is basically quartz with traces of iron, which is what gives off the yellow hue. The more iron there is in the quart, the stronger the yellow color is going to be.

However, when choosing citrine color, darker citrine variations isn’t necessarily better. Instead, the most valued citrine is the one with a rich bright yellow color, similar to the color of the sun or of a ripe lemon.

3. How durable is citrine?

Citrine is neither too hard nor too soft and falls near the middle of the Mohs hardness scale at 7 out of 10. This makes it significantly softer than the more traditional jewelry precious gemstones such as diamonds, rubies and sapphires.

At a 7/10, citrine can be easily scratched by other metals and gemstones in your jewelry. If knocked into something, it can become cracked, and can even fracture under abrupt temperature changes.

Continuous exposure to bright sunlight can also cause citrine’s color to fade away which is a little bit ironic given its reputation as “the gemstone of the sun.” Last but not least, citrine can also be damaged by substances such as ammonium fluoride, hydrofluoric acid, and alkaline solutions.

All that being said, citrine’s relative softness also means that it’s unlikely to scratch or damage the other metals and gemstones in your jewelry box. While citrine requires extra care and protection it can last for years and even decades if it’s cared for properly.

4. What jewelry is citrine best used for?

Citrine can be used for virtually any type of jewelry as well as for various decorative pieces. With it being a softer gemstone, however, it will require some extra protection and care.

Any exposed citrine jewelry piece, like rings or bracelets, should ideally be taken off when you’re engaging in physical activities such as manual labor, sports, dishwashing, or anything similar.

That being said, as long as you take good care of your citrine gemstone, any type of jewelry can work with it – earrings, necklaces, even bracelets, and rings.

5. Is citrine a good choice for engagement rings?

Yellow citrine ring

Citrine ring by God Jewelry. See it here.

Citrine has been slowly climbing in popularity as a semi-precious engagement ring gemstone. People who have a soft spot for citrine’s symbolism and who like its captivating yellow color often enjoy it as an engagement ring choice.

However, citrine’s softness makes it less than ideal for everyday jewelry such as engagement rings. This isn’t to say that it can’t work – it can, it just needs some extra care and protection. Fortunately, even if the ring’s stone cracks or breaks, citrine is affordable and easy to replace.

At the same time, citrine’s affordability is also a negative for a lot of people as engagement rings are usually viewed as a jewelry type that’s supposed to be precious and expensive. If you and your loved one don’t see it that way, however, citrine can be a unique and special option for your engagement ring.

6. How much is 1-carat citrine worth?

Depending on the quality, a 1-carat citrine stone can cost anywhere between $10 and $30. This makes it a very affordable option for jewelry pieces of any type.

There are many gorgeous earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and even rings with citrine as their center stone that go for as little as a couple of a few hundred dollars depending on the metal and the design.

If you want something truly special like this fantastic citrine and diamond necklace, you can easily get such a piece for low 4-digit sums.

7. What is the meaning and symbolism of citrine gemstones?

Citrine is most famous for symbolizing the sun. Many people believe that this semi-precious gemstone can contain the properties of the sun.

Citrine is often associated with qualities such as imagination, abundance, prosperity, and generosity. The stone is believed to both bring these qualities into your life and help you share them with others as well. It’s also believed to help people deal with the anxiety and fear in their life.

Citrine is one of the two November gemstones together with topaz. Given that sunlight is rarely in abundance during this month, citrine is a good way to add a little sunshine to the start of your November.

8. How do you clean and care for a citrine gemstone?

Citrine can be cleaned very easily with a bit of warm soapy water and a soft-bristled brush or a soft piece of cloth. You should be careful not to use hot water and harder brushes or fabrics but that’s pretty much all there is to it.

As far as care and protection are concerned, make sure to keep your citrine gemstones in a separate compartment in your jewelry box so they don’t get scratched by other metals and gemstones.

If you’re using a citrine gemstone for a bookshelf decoration, just remember to clean the dust off of it regularly to avoid the development of micro-scratches on the stone’s surface.

If you’re wearing citrine on any type of jewelry, it’s best if the stone is mounted in a more protective setting. Keeping the jewelry piece away from any physical contact with harder objects is also strongly advisable. Prolonged sun exposure is ill-advised too given that it can cause the gemstone’s color to fade away over time.

9. Are there citrine imitations?

While citrine is not the priciest gemstone on the market, there are some even more affordable gemstones and materials that are often used as citrine’s imitations.

The most common and frustrating one is yellow glass, as it’s the cheapest and simplest way to imitate citrine. One way to tell true citrine apart from yellow glass is to hold the stone in the light. If there are some easily noticeable air bubbles and inclusions, you’re most probably dealing with glass and not with genuine citrine.

Other frequently used citrine imitations include heat-treated amethyst and smoky quartz stones. To spot these you should look for some patchy or splotchy coloring on the surface of the stone. Look at the tips of the stone too, heat-treated citrine imitations will have darker tips.

Another way to tell natural citrine is to look for its dichroic coloring – this a property in some gemstone that allows them to exhibit different colors when viewed from different angles and under different angles. The heat-treated imitations of citrine don’t really have that property.

Of course, the easiest and most recommended way to tell genuine citrine away from its imitations is to consult with a professional jeweler or to not deal with uncertified jewelers and vendors at all in the first place.

10. Can you buy citrine online?

Thanks to its general affordability, citrine is easy to buy online with relatively low risk. However, as there are even cheaper imitations of this gemstone, your best bet to avoid getting scammed is to go to reputable jewelers such as James Allen or Blue Nile. This guarantees the best possible quality at fair prices. However, for the greatest variety, Etsy is an excellent platform offering a range of products from artisan styles to vintage and antique citrine jewelry.