Are you wondering whether you have a real vs a fake citrine on your hands? Is fake citrine necessarily a poor quality gemstone?
You're in the right place. In this Learning Guide, I'll answer the following questions:
- What’s the difference between natural citrine and treated citrine?
- Where is natural citrine found?
- What are the kinds of fake citrine?
What is Natural Citrine?
Natural citrine refers to one of two things: an untreated stone or a heat treated amethyst/smoky quartz. Citrine, smoky quartz, and amethyst all belong to the quartz family. Quartz is the most common crystallized mineral in the world. Still, there's few naturally occurring citrine.
The first natural citrine found was around 1385, shortly after written English happened. Some people will tell you it was found thousands of years before that. However, many reports were confusing topaz with citrine.
Read also: Best Yellow Gemstones
It's no wonder topaz is confused with natural citrine. Both gemstones are the birthstones of November too. But their chemical structures are different.
Their metaphysical properties are different too. Citrine is associated with the Solar Plexus chakra. It is considered a powerful crystal that receives its energy from the sun with its bright yellow color. Authentic citrine repels negativity, enhance your freedom of expression, and is considered a protection stone.
Heat treated citrine is still considered real citrine when it comes to crystals and their properties. If you don't believe that crystal formations have metaphysical properties, you probably will agree it's still a beautiful crystal.
Though real citrine doesn't occur in abundance, it can still be found. Majority of natural citrine is found in Brazil.
Real Citrine vs Heat Treated Amethyst
Here's where it gets a little confusing.
A lot of gemstones receive color treatment to enhance the shade of the stone. It will either have no effect on the cost, or the value will go down. It depends on the gemstone. Most citrine isn't mined directly. Instead, the heat treatment is performed on an amethyst or a smoky quartz.
The color of a heat treated amethyst goes from its traditional purple to an orangish colour, similar to the orange hues of citrine. They do it by baking the amethyst until its color changes. It can be hard to differentiate between baked amethyst and natural citrine. When smokey quartz is heated, it becomes a smoky yellow color.
You may find it labeled as both real citrine and fake citrine. You should expect all citrine sellers to disclose which way it was heated. Heat treated citrine retains its colour. Citrines that have been irradiated to enhance color may fade.
What is Fake Citrine?
Generally, fake citrine is another gemstone or material that appears to look like genuine citrine. But as mentioned before, heat treated amethyst or smoky quartz can be considered fake citrine too. And that's what makes up most of the vivid colours and shades of citrine in the market.
Many sellers consider it real citrine because majority of the citrine market isn't mined citrine. It's up to you to clarify any treatments with sellers. They should always tell you if there have been any treatments. If they don't, make sure you ask if that's a big concern when buying your citrine specimen.
The most common fake citrine out there is glass. Glass can be natural or manmade and faceted to look like natural gemstones.
Real vs Fake Citrine: What's the Difference?
There's a few ways to tell the difference between real citrine vs fake citrine. Aside from a jeweler, the best way to determine real citrine is by observing it closely.
Here are the differences between real vs fake citrine:
- Real or natural citrine is usually pale yellow or light orange, whereas more saturated gemstones and lime colored ones are indicative of fake citrine.
- Real citrine is generally transparent with high clarity, whereas may have bubbles or other inclusions.
Colors & Patterns
The majority of natural citrine is a pale yellow to light orange color. Bright orange hues are rare. The more saturated a natural citrine is, the more valuable. A vivid orange hue with red flashes is the most valuable. It's called the Madeira hue. However, this is the result of heated amethyst. Madeira hues can go for around $112 per carat.
A big indicator between genuine citrine is color zoning. It's difficult to search and find saturated citrine occurring in nature. Most natural citrine material will have subtle variations in saturation throughout the crystal.
Colors and Indicators of Heat Treated Quartz
Gemologists can tell the difference between heat treated quartz and natural citrine based on color. Lime yellow colored citrine stones are the result of heat treated smoky quartz.
Often times, baked amethyst produces a pure white base. When stones are cut, it's more difficult to tell the difference. The white base is more evident when looking at a raw citrine crystal cluster or specimen.
A citrine gemstone from the earth will have smooth fault lines and the same color throughout. Blotchy colors indicate inauthenticity.
Most members of the quartz family have excellent clarity. The gemstone is easily transparent, with no imperfections in sight. If you see bubbles in citrine stones, they're fake gems. Typically, bubbles are an indicator of glass.
If you see spindly inclusions and imperfections in citrine crystals, they're not real. Glass can't produce these. Another gem can.
Mohs Hardness Scale
The mineral hardness scale is a popular way to tell the difference between a genuine crystal and a fake one. The Mohs scale won't be able to tell you if your citrine is heat treated citrine or amethyst.
It will tell you if your citrine is another colored stone or glass. Citrine and amethyst have the same hardness rating. Glass, topaz, yellow beryl, and cubic zirconia have different hardness levels.
Conclusion: Is Your Citrine Real or Fake?
The truth is, it can be hard to tell if a citrine gem is real or fake. It can be harder to tell the difference between heat treated amethyst and mined citrine crystals.
If you are determined to buy real citrine crystals, you should clarify exactly what you're looking for in your search. Read all descriptions and titles carefully online. Often times an Etsy shop or Amazon shop may advertise "real citrine" in the title. Scroll to read the description and you can find simulated citrine in the text.
Don't count on your local crystal shop to be able to discern between treated crystals and untreated citrine. Both can be a beautiful stone. Most crystal shops don't have gemologists or experts in the science of crystals. They're more knowledgeable about the properties than the authenticity.