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November 13, 2013
This month’s gemstone is citrine, and it is one of the most cherished stones in the quartz family. Initially known as “yellow quartz,” the name “citrine” was officially adopted in 1556 when German metallurgist Georg Bauer, known to some as “the father of modern mineralogy,” cited it in a publication about gemstones and jewelry. The most likely origin of the name is from the French word citron or the Latin word citrus, referring to citrus fruits. Citrine is the golden variety of quartz and comes in shades of yellow, orange, and brown.
Citrine has been used in tools and jewelry for thousands of years. In ancient Greece, the stone gained popularity as a decorative gem during the Hellenistic Age, between 300 and 150 B.C.
In the 17th century, Scottish weapon makers used citrine to adorn dagger handles, sometimes even using a single crystal as the handle itself. Later, citrine became a popular stone for traditional Scottish kilt pins and shoulder brooches, largely due to Queen Victoria’s affinity for the gem. Citrine again rose to prominence during the Art Deco period in the early part of the 20th century. The stone’s unique coloring and versatility was a good match for the Art Deco aesthetic, which came to encompass everything from jewelry, clothing, furniture and interior design to appliances and architecture.
Demand for citrine began to surge in Europe in the 1930s, in part to a group of gem cutters who moved from Idar-Oberstein in Germany to South America, where the stone is prevalent. They shipped large quantities of citrine home for cutting and fashioning. The craftsmen used large, rotating sandstones just as they had done with other quartz stones for decades to create stunning pieces.
Quartz is common worldwide, and areas that produce amethyst will often generate citrine as well. Brazil is the top producer of citrine, but Uruguay, Bolivia, Madagascar, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Argentina, Myanmar, Namibia, and the United States also produce natural stones. Heat-treated amethysts from Brazil can sometimes be mistaken for citrines, because the purple amethyst crystals turn golden brown when exposed to heat.
Citrine comes in many shapes and sizes. Finished stones may be faceted or shaped and polished. We sell several beautiful pieces of jewelry featuring citrine. It’s so versatile, you’re sure to find something you like no matter what your style is.