Heat Treated Amethyst vs Citrine: What’s the Difference?

Wondering the difference between heat treated amethyst and natural citrine? 

You're in the right place. 

In this Learning Guide, I'll answer the top questions asked about heat treated amethyst and citrine crystals like:

heat treated amethyst vs citrine
  • Are heat treated amethyst and citrine the same?
  • Does natural citrine exist?
  • Are amethysts lab-created?

Main Differences between Heat Treated Amethyst vs Citrine

  • Natural citrine is heated by the sun, whereas heat treated amethyst is heated by man.
  • Untreated citrine crystals tend to be found in pale yellow shades, whereas heat treated amethyst can be found in bright orangish yellow and reddish orange hues.
  • Genuine citrine stones are considered rare, whereas heat treated amethyst is very common.
  • Heated amethyst geodes and clusters have a white base, whereas real citrine does not.

Is Your Citrine Natural or Heat Treated: Origin

Citrine

Citrine stones are one of the most famous stones used in crystal healing. It's also the birthstone for the month of November. Many love citrine, but it's often misunderstood.

There's very little real citrine in the world. It exists, but most of it is found in Brazil. Most citrine on the market is heated citrine, not natural citrine. You're likely to find genuine citrine as small crystals rather than large specimens.

All citrine is light yellow quartz. Quartz is the most abundant mineral found in earth. Different varieties make up other popular gemstones like amethyst, smoky quartz, rose quartz, and clear quartz.

Quartz crystals aren't used a lot in fine jewelry, but are valued for their metaphysical properties more. Gemstones like citrine in the orange and yellow frequency are associated with happiness, creativity, and sunlight.

Citrine crystals are owned as:

  • Raw crystals
  • Clusters and geodes
  • Tumbled stones
  • Polished Stones
  • Freeform shapes and carvings
  • Faceted stones
  • True citrine forms when the purple color of amethyst or the brown color of smoky quartz gets heated by the earth. The extreme temperatures cause the molecular structure and the quartz crystal lattice to change into citrine. This is done by nature, which creates what we call natural citrine.

    Heat Treated Amethyst

    It might surprise to hear that authentic citrine is rare. After all, it's one of the easiest crystals to find in crystal and rock shops. That's because most of your local shops sell heat treated amethyst, not natural citrine.

    Amethyst is very common and affordable. Instead of letting mother earth do the work to heat amethyst to citrine, scientists do it. They found a way to manipulate an amethyst geode to citrine colors by baking it in a kiln. The kiln reaches the same temperatures it takes for the earth to turn amethyst into natural citrine.

    Heat treated amethyst has many names including:

    • Citrine
    • Heated citrine
    • Heated treated citrine
    • Baked Amethyst
    • Burnt Amethyst
    • Real Citrine
    • Fake Citrine

    There's a lot of debate as to if heat treating amethyst to citrine changes the metaphysical properties of the crystal.

    Heat Treated Amethyst vs Natural Citrine: Appearance

    Citrine

    Seeing natural citrine and treated citrine next to each other can be quite the difference. After all, the color is your best bet to knowing if your citrine is real or fake citrine. Heat treated citrine and natural citrine are both quartz crystals, so a lot of their their physical and optical properties are the same.

    You already know that untreated citrine mostly produces pale and light yellow shades. Congo citrine has a lime green yellow look to it. It may be called Kundalini citrine in some circles.

    natural large citrine cluster

    Earth made citrine can be found in darker yellow brown shades. Many would say it resembles smoky quartz. Zambia produces most of the brown honey color citrine material.

    credited: LukusuziRiver

    The golden brown color is the only dark hues that real citrine can produce. Untreated citrine rarely produces burnt orange or dark orange shades. Those shades are the result of heat treated citrine.

    Heat Treated Amethyst

    You should know not all heat treated citrines are heated amethyst. Smokey quartz can also be heated citrine. It takes a little of education to understand the difference.

    Is your citrine real? Let's find out.

    Heating amethyst produces different yellow shades than untreated citrine. Instead of pale yellow hues, heat treating amethyst crystals produce bright yellow and orange hues. It can also make reddish orange hues, called Madeira citrine.

    Smoky quartz achieves different citrine-like hues than HT amethyst. It produces intense golden brown hues and smoky citrine colors.

    smoky quartz citrine

    It might be difficult for the average buyer to differentiate citrine hues. A lot of gemstone color hues are subjective and not an exact science. They're more of a mutual agreement among gemologists.

    Fortunately, there's another telltale sign to indicate heat treated citrine colors. Baked amethyst produces an opaque white base. You can easily see this effect when observing citrine crystal clusters and even some tumbled citrine.

    heat treated amethyst

    It's harder to see the white base concerning faceted heated citrine. Much of the material is discarded for gemstone cutters to create the perfect citrine gem. That's where you'd rely on the hues if you're questionable about its authenticity.

    Heat Treated Citrine vs Citrine

    Not all "fake citrine" on the market is heat treated amethyst or smoky quartz. Treated citrine can also referred to citrine stones that have been irradiated. Irradiated stones may lose their color over time.

    Lemon quartz is another variety of heat treated citrine. The difference between the two crystals is color origin. Lemon quartz has been manually heated to produce its yellow tint, just like amethyst and smoky quartz.

    Heat treated citrine happens when a real stone made of quartz is heated by man to produce citrine colors. The individual crystals are as natural as they come, but the colors have been tweaked to turn yellow.

    A heat treated stone is normal, which is why some people may still call them natural stones. Some still say they're fake because the color isn't natural.

    Fake citrine can also be cubic zirconia, heliodor, glass, and other like colored natural crystals. They can also be referred to as citrine simulants, simulated citrine, or imitation citrine.

    Heat Treated Amethyst vs Citrine: Price and Value

    To be honest, heat treated amethyst rides a thin line in seller transparency. Sellers should always be honest about the origin of heat treated amethyst. Many people can't tell the difference between unheated citrine and heat treated citrine. Most crystal shop employees don't either.

    A citrine crystal that has been heated is very affordable. You can find small raw crystals between $2-5 a piece. Natural citrine hovers a little over that, but is difficult to find.

    Some gemstones receive heat treatment to enhance color and it doesn't impact price or value much. Other gemstones receive heat treatment and it will impact it. As a buyer, you should always ask about the origins of your citrine stone before completing your purchase.

    Large natural citrine pieces should cost in the hundreds. Madeira citrine colors are the result of heat treating and can go for around $100+ per carat. These hues are found often in fine jewelry stores.

    madeira color at brilliant earth

    Heat treated citrine makes up around 95% of all citrine on the market, so don't expect to run into it too easily.

    Aside from the price tag, citrine has a good value as a gemstone in the long run. Many people choose alternative stones to diamonds for engagement rings. Not every gem can be worn every day with little damage and minimal care.

    Citrine has a good gemstone hardness. It has a hardness level of 7 on the Mohs scale and no gemstone cleavage. That's rare for faceted stones, and makes them vulnerable to chipping. It's a fine gem to hold its value for years to come. It doesn't matter if the piece is natural or heat treated.

    However, you should avoid steam cleaning heat treated stones in a jewelry steam cleaner. That's why I always advise people to stick to good old soap and water for cleaning.


    Conclusion

    It's very difficult to find natural citrine. Heat treated amethyst makes up majority of the market. Other citrine stones are produced by heating smoky quartz or yellow quartz into lemon quartz. You should assume that all citrine is has been treated.

    It's also difficult to tell the two crystals apart, so make sure you're buying from a reliable source. The stones are both natural, but the color is either man made or earth made.

    Both stones are said to have the same properties in some circles, while others say heated amethyst still retains amethyst properties. Others say it changes to citrine properties.

    Thankfully, no matter which type of citrine you get ahold of, both of them will have a good lifespan for years to come.

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