Citrine Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Citrine is the yellow to red-orange variety of crystalline quartz. Clever marketing and the rise of “earth tone” fashions have made this durable and readily available gem a popular jewelry stone in recent years.
In terms of color, 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. In many fancy cut or carved specimens, most of the value is due to the artistry of the cutting.
For more detailed information on citrine quality factors, consult our citrine buying guide.
The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.
|Is a Variety of||Quartz|
|Colors||Yellow to Red-Orange, also deep orange and orangey brown.|
|Specific Gravity||2.651 (very constant)|
|Enhancements||Amethyst and smoky quartz can be heat treated to change them to citrine. "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.|
Citrine 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, partly because earth-tone jewelry has come into vogue. Home shopping networks have also marketed the various shades of citrine aggressively, with catchy adjectives like “butterscotch” and “whiskey.” Apparently, this has worked. Citrine is now a modern alternative birthstone for November.
Mining actually yields 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 usually occur in pale yellow colors, 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.
Citrine as a Jewelry Stone
Citrines make fine jewelry stones. With no cleavage and a hardness of 7, they 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.
An older cut inspired this new citrine gem design. 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.
Citrine’s yellow colors are due to the presence of ferric iron, colors traditionally associated with topaz. Confusion between these gemstones does occur, even though quartz and topaz are distinct gem species.
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 usually occurs 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 the following:
- Bolivia; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Madagascar; Mexico; Myanmar; Namibia; Peru; Russia; South Africa; United States; Zambia.
Citrines thousands of carats in size exist. The Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC) 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.
Although usually free of inclusions, citrines with low clarity grades — with liquids, gases, or crystals trapped within them — should be cleaned by hand only. However, any heat-treated citrines are most likely safe to clean in an ultrasonic cleaner.
Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.