Summary
Bright yellow or intense orange, citrine has long been a symbol of the Sun. As a November birthstone and the most well-known yellow gemstone, citrine engagement rings have become a popular, if non-traditional, way to celebrate an engagement. Learn how to judge the quality of a citrine engagement ring and how to keep your ring looking great for years to come.
Reading time: 8 min

Flower-themed settings are a popular choice for citrine rings. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

Why Choose a Citrine Engagement Ring?

Citrine’s sunny hues have led people to associate them with health and happiness. Its durability makes it great for an engagement ring, too, and it’s one of the best choices for a big, affordable stone.

Opting for a low-cost center stone like citrine opens up your budget for the ring setting, too. If you’re looking for a unique ring to match your personality, consider designing your own with a trusted jeweler like CustomMade.

Other Yellow and Orange Options

If all you want is a gold-colored stone, you have other options besides citrine.

Yellow or orange sapphire as well as yellow diamond are excellent choices for an engagement ring stone. They also have greater hardness than citrine. Of course, these gems are more expensive.

If a tight budget attracted you to citrine in the first place, you still have other gold-colored options. For example, topaz is the traditional November birthstone and easy to find in most jewelry stores. (In fact, citrine is sometimes confused with topaz). Heliodor is a less well-known cousin to aquamarine and emerald and makes a great stone for daily wear. Both of these gems have greater hardness than citrine, too, and they’re affordable even in large sizes.

Citrine Quality Factors

Unlike more traditional engagement ring stones, citrine prices don’t vary very much. Still, understanding the differences in price will make you a savvy buyer. Ultimately, you might not want “top quality.” Instead, focus on getting the best gem for your style and budget.

Like a diamond, a citrine’s value is based on the Four Cs: color, cut, clarity, and carat.

Color

First, consider what color you’d like best. A pure, bright yellow or something pale and subtle? Perhaps more of an orange color?

yellow citrine

A subtle color can be elegant, even in a bold design. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Modern Jewelry.

In general, citrine gets a little more expensive as its color gets more saturated. So, a bright, eye-popping yellow or orange will cost more than a pale or brownish stone.

The top prices go to intense orange “Madeira” citrines that show red flashes.

intense orange citrine engagement ring

This sunburst halo ring features a bright orange citrine. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Prestige Auction Galleries.

When you’re looking at a citrine, make sure it doesn’t have any color zoning. Some citrines have zones of darker and lighter color. This can detract from the stone’s beauty.

Color Treatments

Did you know that most citrine comes out of the ground as smoky quartz? Applying heat to smoky quartz or amethyst can produce yellow or orange citrine. Since this treatment is similar to processes that can happen underground naturally, most people consider heat treatment as something that “nature just forgot to do.”

Still, it’s important to ask whether there are any other treatments or enhancements to the gemstone. Some citrine gets its color from dyes or coatings that can fade or wear off over time. Despite citrine’s affordability, there’s no reason to pay for a stone that will lose its beauty.

Cut

Next, think about what gem shape you’d like. Citrine gemstones are available in all shapes, from traditional rounds to popular ovals and pears, and even unusual or asymmetrical shapes.

kite shape

Unusual shapes like this kite-shaped citrine would certainly stand out from the crowd. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Prestige Auction Galleries.

When you’re looking at the gemstone, make sure that the shape isn’t “off.” Round areas should be round, corners should be crisp, and straight lines should be straight. Asymmetry can also make a gemstone look off-shape.

In general, we recommend avoiding stones with ambiguous outlines. Anything “in between” an oval and a round, or a square and a rectangle, just won’t look good in a ring.

In addition, check the stone’s length-to-width ratio. Some people prefer their pears or ovals more elongated or more squat.

If you need more help choosing the perfect shape, check out our guide to gemstone shapes.

Cut Quality Issues

Many citrine gemstones will have some cut quality issues. Watch out for poor cutting.

Standard cuts may produce a window in the gem. The center of the stone will be a lighter color than the outer portion. This means that the light is passing through the gem, instead of reflecting back to your eye. To check this, place a paper with writing behind the gem and look through it. If you can see the text, the gem has a window.

windowing

Notice how the center of this citrine has a pale, washed-out color? That’s a telltale sign of a window. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Estate Jewelry Auctioneers.

Next, look at the black areas in the gem. As you move the gem, light should scintillate through. If these black areas persist, the gem shows extinction. This effect occurs because of poor cutting angles. If you find a citrine with more than 25% extinction over its surface, keep looking for another one.

bow tie extinction

Oval, pear, and marquise shapes often have bowtie-shaped extinction in the middle of the gem. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Prestige Auction Galleries.

If you have the budget, consider finding a lapidary to custom cut your gem. This will add significantly to the beauty (and price) of the stone.

custom-cut citrine

Because of citrine’s low prices, custom cutting is typically reserved for large specimens, like this 7.1-ct gem. © RSA Gems. Used with permission.

Standard Proportions

If you’ve already purchased a ring setting, make sure to check your citrine’s measurements. It should be the appropriate standard size to fit the ring. Dealing with a gem that doesn’t fit the setting is a huge headache.

Of course, designing a custom ring to fit your stone is an excellent option. Consider using a custom jeweler like CustomMade to design a unique engagement ring setting.

citrine engagement ring with onyx accents

A custom setting will fit your citrine like a glove and match your personality, too. This high-contrast ring pairs citrine with black onyx. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

Clarity

Although most citrines have excellent clarity, make sure to check your stone. Avoid any citrines with eye-visible imperfections. These might look like dark spots or cloudy areas.

cloudy transparency citrine

This citrine has a cloudy appearance. If a good cleaning doesn’t clear it up, this citrine has poor clarity. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Eastbourne Auctions.

If your citrine has clarity imperfections, keep shopping. Citrine is abundant and typically eye-clean, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find the perfect stone.

Carat

Because citrine occurs in large sizes, its price per carat doesn’t climb exponentially with size. With some gem species, a two-carat stone can cost three or four times as much as a one-carat stone. However, a two-carat citrine will cost twice as much as a one-carat stone of the same quality, and a four-carat citrine will cost twice as much as a two-carat stone.

Citrine Engagement Ring Settings and Styles

Finding the right setting and style for your engagement ring is perhaps even more important than the center stone. Fortunately, citrine is durable enough for any setting, vintage or modern. Many couples opt for a classic prong-set solitaire, while others surround the center stone in a bright halo.

From plain to sparkly and simple to ornate, citrine rings can certainly take on a number of different styles. Photos courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Estate Jewelry Auctioneers.

Still, if you’re concerned about accidentally damaging your gem, go with a protective setting, like a bezel. Metal surrounds the outer edge of the stone, making it less susceptible to snags, knocks, and scratches.

bezel halo citrine engagement ring

Bezel settings will keep your citrine safe and can look great with a sparkly halo, too. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Platinum Auction Group.

Some enthusiasts think citrine’s golden colors work best with jewelry metals like yellow gold, but others prefer the warmth of rose gold or the cool, neutral tone of white gold.

mixed metal citrine engagement ring

Mixed metal is another popular option. In this retro-style ring, yellow prongs frame the citrine center stone on a silver band. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Jasper52.

Caring for your Citrine Engagement Ring

Regular cleaning is the best way to keep your ring looking great. Citrine rings will hold up well in ultrasonic or steam cleaners. However, just simple soapy water and a brush will work well, too.

Keep in mind that citrines with coatings or dyes may lose color during cleaning. For these gems, use mild detergent and water — and a brush only when necessary.

Over time, you might find that your stone has accumulated scratches and lost its transparency. A professional lapidary should be able to polish out the scratches. As long as the scratches aren’t too deep, the stone will only lose minimal weight. However, if the stone has deep scratches or chips, consider replacing it. Consult your jeweler to find the right stone to fit your setting.

cluster style citrine engagement ring

The unique setting on this citrine engagement ring carefully protects the stones. With proper care, it will look great for years to come. © CustomMade. Used with permission.