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November Birthstone - Citrine

It’s the turn of our second November birthstone today: citrine.

Citrine is the yellow variety of the most abundant mineral on earth, quartz. Used in everything from concrete to watch parts it is an incredible resource; however, it also happens to be an incredible gemstone.

Quartz comes in a wide range of colours and crystal structures, with some varieties showing that classic transparent lustre we think of when we picture a gemstone, whilst others are polycrystalline and opaque. Some polycrystalline examples are Jasper, agate and tiger’s eye, which I think we can agree all look very different to the crystalline quartz varieties, such as: amethyst, rock crystal and, of course, citrine.

A natural citrine geode

Quartz is naturally a colourless stone in its pure state, but when traces of other elements are found in its environment it can grow in almost any colour of the rainbow. Coloured by the presence of iron, citrine is a yellow variety of crystalline quartz, as we have already mentioned, and one of the birthstones of November, added recently as a more pocket friendly option next to the original November birthstone, topaz.

An Art Nouveau citrine ring from the SHJB archives

Deriving its name from the French word of Lemon, citrine ranges from a light lemon to deep honey in colour and has a very similar tone to Topaz. This similarity in colour led to citrine and topaz being confused as one mineral for centuries until developments in minerology separated them: so citrine was undoubtably the best choice of a second gemstone for November.

Colour variations in citrine- via the international gem society

Interestingly however, natural citrine is rare, in fact most citrine found on the market was mined as amethyst and has been heat treated to shift from its natural purple colour to yellow. The amethyst gems are heated to above 500 degrees Celsius, at which point the iron colour centre is activated and the gemstone’s colour permanently shifts. This is such a common occurrence that it isn’t required to be disclosed by sellers.

Revered across time Citrine peppers our history with its lore and legends. Known as the ‘merchant’s stone’ in the middle-ages, citrine was supposed to bring wealth and prosperity to the wearer; whilst in Scotland it was synonymous with protection, often found on the hilts of decorated soldiers’ swords as a talisman carried into battle.

One notable example of citrine jewellery is the incredible Cartier tiara made for the George VI coronation in 1937. A testament to exquisite craftsmanship the tiara holds an important emerald cut citrine to the centre, surrounded by an Art Deco style diamond halo before leading to an amazing band of channel set citrine stones that encircle the entire head.

The Cartier citrine tiara made in 1937

Undoubtably one of our favourite gemstones the citrine is perfect for any budget and ideal for everyday wear; it truly is the perfect gemstone.

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