Citrine Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Citrine is the yellow to red-orange variety of crystalline quartz. This stone was once the Rodney Dangerfield of the gem world. Due to its abundance, it would “get no respect,” as it were. In recent decades this perception has changed, due in part to fashions that emphasize earth tones. Home shopping networks have been marketing the various shades of citrine aggressively with catchy adjectives like “butterscotch” and “whiskey.”
At the top end of the scale, you'll find prime specimens of the most saturated yellow, orange, and reddish tones. Those with less intense color fall into lower value ranges, with pale or smoky stones at the bottom. As with any gem material, custom cutting increases value. Inclusions decrease it. There is no exponential increase in value per carat with increase in size, as larger sizes are readily available. In many fancy cut or carved specimens, most of the value is due to the artistry of the cutting.
The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.
|Is a Variety of||Quartz|
|Colors||Yellow to Red-Orange|
|Specific Gravity||2.651 (very constant)|
|Enhancements||Amethyst can be heat treated to change it to citrine. Not common. "Madeira" citrine with red flashes is a result of heat treatment.|
|Absorption Spectrum||Not diagnostic|
|Pleochroism||Very weak, different shades of yellow or orange.|
|Optics||o = 1.544; e = 1.553 (very constant). Uniaxial (+)|
|Etymology||From the old French citrin, meaning yellow.|
|Occurrence||Generally in pegmatites and veins. Found in geodes in alluvial deposits.|
|Inclusions||Natural quartz stones, including citrine, may have liquid, bread crumbs, zebra stripes, two and three phase inclusions, and negative crystals.|
Mining actually produces very little citrine. The vast majority of citrine on the market is produced by heating smoky quartz (which produces light to medium yellows) and amethyst (which produces stronger yellows and orange-red to orangey brown shades). Natural stones tend to be pale yellow, often with smoky tones. Citrines range from light, lemon yellow to “Madeira,” a rich, orange color with red flashes. This accepted description refers strictly to color, not a locality. (However, the use of the term “Madeira topaz” to refer to citrine is incorrect).
Citrine’s yellow colors are due to the presence of ferric iron. These colors have been traditionally associated with topaz. Confusion between these gemstones does occur, even though quartz and topaz are distinct gem species.
Citrine makes a fine jewelry stone. With no gemstone cleavage, a hardness of 7, stable colors in light, and no special care requirements, it can be used for any jewelry application. Like most quartz, it’s available in large sizes. Thus, custom gem cutters can easily use this stone for dramatic and intricate cuts. This gem is a wonderful option for a large, beautiful stone for an engagement ring. Citrines also make excellent carving material.
This new citrine gem design was inspired by an older cut. Gem faceter Mark Oros writes:
I saw a wonderful gemstone design online that caught my interest. With a little research, I discovered it was featured in an article in Lapidary Journal, July 1972, by Wm. J. Maloney. He named the cut The Beatress. Originally, he sawed a sphere into quarters, dopped it, and faceted the pavilion. We used the GemCad program to redesign the gemstone for 2017. Here is our rendition of this beautiful design.
“5th of a Sphere” in golden citrine. © Mark Oros, Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.
Citrines can be grown hydrothermally in labs. Although natural quartz is common and inexpensive, synthetic quartz can be manufactured in sufficient quantities and at low cost. This makes the practice economically viable.
Turning natural smoky quartz and amethyst to citrine via heat treatment is usually done right at the mine. However, this stable treatment is fully accepted within the gem trade. Colorless quartz stones are also irradiated and heated to produce “lemon quartz,” stones with a neon, slightly greenish yellow color.
Heat treating citrines with the proper iron content creates the prized “Madeira” color. However, no simple way of testing the iron content of citrine exists. Therefore, processors must monitor this treatment carefully.
Virtually all natural citrines come from Brazil. Other notable gem-quality sources include:
- Bolivia; Madagascar; Myanmar; Zambia.
Citrines thousands of carats in size exist. The Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.) has Brazilian stones of 2,258, 1,180, 783, 278, 265, and 217 carats. Most large museums have similar baubles.
In the past, people commonly referred to citrine by misleading names, such as “Brazilian topaz,” “Madeira topaz,” and even “topaz quartz.” Unscrupulous vendors can still take advantage of the long association of yellow with topaz to pass off inexpensive citrines as more expensive topaz pieces. For more examples, consult our List of Misleading or False Gemstone Names.
Citrines make durable jewelry stones that require little special care. However, heat treated stones may fade when exposed to heat. Thus, avoid steam cleaning or boiling your citrine jewelry. Instead, use either ultrasonic cleaning or simply warm water, mild detergent, and a soft brush. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.