It’s quite true that an overwhelming majority of commercial grade citrine is heated to either weak, watery, or garish, obviously unnatural colors. Darker colors of citrine are produced by heat treatment of amethyst and smoky quartz, and red undertones are usually – but not always – evidence of this treatment. Fine, natural citrine, however, is another story entirely.
Natural citrine is rare and tends to be a pure to smoky yellow with no red undertones. Some fine specimens have been discovered in Russia that appear dark brown or even green in diffuse lighting, but when viewed directly backlit, evenly dispersed, honey yellows spring to life.
Even so, the spectrum of yellow tones to be found in citrine is remarkable: a shimmering glass of Madeira wine; a freshly blossomed chrysanthemum; dandelions on a summer day; all of these colors can be captured by citrine. Regardless of its origins, the colors of citrine elicit memories of sunny days, whether a clear summer morning or a waning autumn afternoon.
As with most quartz, always look for unincluded stones with even coloration in the shade of the color most appealing to you. You’ll often find it set in yellow gold, but citrine can be focalized in a white gold or platinum setting.
The lighter tones of citrine pair well with peridot and aquamarine in the summer. Citrine is an alternative to topaz as the birthstone for November, so the darker gems can be utilized in jewel tones for autumns and deep winters.
As quartz, citrine is safe for ultrasonic cleaning, but steam cleaning should be done sparingly. Depending on the method of heat treatment, some citrine can fade or have a color alteration with further exposure to high heat, like a jeweler’s torch, or if left in direct sunlight (ultraviolet light – no tanning beds) for extended periods of time.
Citrine, along with amethyst, is one of my favorites to work with. I like finding specialty cuts from experimental cutters to put in statement pieces, like Bernd Munsteiner and John Dyer. Stop in to see some citrine cut into designs you’ve probably never seen before – and may never see anywhere else.