Citrine ~ November's Birthstone

Click Here for Topaz, November's other Birthstone.

To warm us with its radiant glow, citrine comes just in time for the transition from summer to fall and soon to winter. Legend tells us that the citrine has the power to surround its wearer with calmness and kindness, a perfect prescription for the Thanksgiving holiday, reminiscent of the warm, golden tones of the season.

Citrine, a form of quartz, derives its name from the French word for lemon, ‘citron'. It is also known by some as gold topaz, or Madeira or Spanish topaz. Citrine looks good in any metal, but its "favorite" is yellow gold. Citrine has a hardness of seven on the Mohs scale, which makes it very wearable on a daily basis, for it doesn't scratch easily and, its cleavage properties are nonexistent.

One of several yellow gemstones, such as the diamond and sapphire, citrine is a more affordable stone than its sisters. Other yellow stones like tourmaline or chrysoberyl, tend to have a green overtone, so the citrine is a wish come true for yellow lovers looking for sunshine in a jewel.

Historically, citrine has been found in Spain, on the Scottish island of Arran, in France, Hungary and in several mines overseas. Looking to "manufacture" a yellow gemstone, it was discovered in the middle of the 18th century that amethysts and smoky quartz can be heat-treated, a process called burning. The problem was that this heat treatment had to be carried out at a very high temperature (between 470 and 560 degrees) and needs to be done very carefully, by someone with a lot of experience. Over the last two hundred years the process was refined and became much easier to do, so much so that most of the stones available in the trade today are heat-treated amethysts, or smoky quartz. The sad thing is that it takes a trained professional to tell a heat treated stone from a natural one.

Not until the 1930s, in Europe, was there a serious demand in the marketplace for yellow to reddish crystal quartz. It was expatriate agate cutters from Idar-Oberstein who met the demand by sending large quantities of citrine back home, along with amethyst and agate, from Brazil and Uruguay. Idar-Oberstein is a city in the Rhineland-Palatinate in German, known as the German Capital of the gemstone Industry. These golden-yellow quartzes made and continued to make Idar-Oberstein into one of the world's major suppliers of gemstones.

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