Citrine: The Merchants’ Birthstone

As mentioned in an earlier blog, November has two autumn-hued birthstones: the brilliant topaz and the fiery citrine.  This week, we’re looking at the citrine, coveted since ancient times for its warm tones.

Celebrating a November birthday or 13th anniversary (citrine is the commemorative gemstone of the 13th anniversary!) or do you just love the gem’s autumn-esque tones?   Give us a call at 800-798-6173 or e-mail us at info@gallerybyzantium and we’d be happy to custom set one of our pieces with a citrine for you!

A special shade of quartz

Navaratna armlet. 19th century. India. Gold, enamel, ruby, emerald, sapphire, pearl, aquamarine, grossular garnet, amethyst, coral, citrine, turquoise, rose quartz, and cord. Via

According to legend, citrine attracts wealth and prosperity, earning it the nickname “the merchant’s stone.”  Historically, many businesses kept the gemstone in or near the cash register for this reason.   It was also thought to, like topaz, calm and soothe.  “To leverage these powers, Egyptians used citrine gems as talismans, the ancient Greeks carved iconic images into them, and Roman priests fashioned them into rings.”

Citrine shares the pale yellow coloring of topaz, leading to the two stones being confused throughout history.  For the longest time, it was though to just be another yellow quartz (yellow stones, as we mentioned in a previous blog, were all called “topaz”).  This yellow stone is actually closer-related to the purple amethyst than it is topaz; the only difference is the color produced by the amount of iron present in the stone. It wasn’t until the 1500s that this “yellow quartz,” as it was colloquially known, earned its own name, derived from the French word for “citrus.”

Like citrus fruits, citrine varies from a lemony pale yellow color to a deeper orange.  “Citrine’s yellow hues are caused by traces of iron in quartz crystals. This occurs rarely in nature, so most citrine on the market is made by heat treating other varieties of quartz—usually the more common, less expensive purple amethyst and smoky quartz—to produce golden gems.” This heat treatment causes the stone to be more reddish in color; natural citrine is more yellow.

A wearable gemstone

Cirtine has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, making it ideal for daily wear.  It is relatively durable against small nicks and scratches. It can be cleaned with warm water, a mild detergent, and a soft cloth.  Rinse the stone well to remove soap residue.  Like other gemstones, chemical cleaners are not recommended.  While ultrasonic cleaning is safe, steaming or other high-heat cleaning should be avoided as these stones are sensitive to heat.

Main image: Lucien Gaillard. France. Pendant: Gold, champlevé enamel, citrines, carved horn; Box: cardboard, silk. ca. 1900. Via
Citrine –
About Citrine –
History of Citrine Gemstones –
About Citrine: History and Introduction –
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