Saturday, October 27, 2007
CITRINE - The November Birthstone
Let's suppose that someone has bought a moped, yet his friends and acquaintances keep talking about his 'wonderful racing machine'. He surely feels confused, or feels that they are taking the mickey out of him. A moped was exactly what he wanted for short trips in good weather, but even the salesman said that he was now in possession of a 'real flyer'.That's roughly how things go with the citrine, the stone for the month of November.
Many people have come to know and love this stone under the name gold topaz, or Madeira or Spanish topaz, although in actual fact it has very little in common with the higher-quality gemstone topaz - except for a few nuances of colour. Thus the history of the citrine is closely interwoven with that of the topaz, and coincides with it completely when it comes to the interpretation of alleged miraculous powers. However, the citrine is a member of the large quartz family, a family which, with its multitude of colours and very various structures, offers gemstone lovers almost everything their hearts desire in terms of adornment and decoration, from absolutely clear rock crystal to black onyx. And it does so at prices which are by no means unaffordable.The name is derived from the colour - the yellow of the lemon - , although the most sought-after stones have a clear, radiant yellowish to brownish red.
Like all crystal quartzes, the citrine has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale and is thus, to a large extent, insensitive to scratches. It won't immediately take offence at being knocked about either, since its cleavage properties are non-existent. Even if their refractive index is relatively low, the yellow stones have just that mellow, warm tone that seems to have captured the last glow of autumn. Like golden Rhine wine or sparkling Madeira, heavy and sweet, citrine jewellery shimmers and brings a hint of sunshine to those dull November days.There are not many yellow gemstones in the world of jewels. A diamond or a sapphire may be yellow - those will be expensive -, or sometimes a tourmaline or chrysoberyl, though these tend toward green somewhat, a golden beryl or eben a pure topaz, which we will mention again later on. However, the citrine fulfils everyone's colour wishes, from lemon yellow to reddish brown.
Rare though it is, yellow does in fact occur in quartz in Nature, if seldom, when there are traces of iron in the silicon dioxide. Historically, it has been found in Spain, on the Scottish island of Arran, in France, Hungary and in several mines overseas. Perhaps the citrine wouldn't have been talked about any more at all if, in the middle of the 18th century, it had not been for the discovery that amethysts and smoky quartzes can also be rendered yellow by so-called burning. This heat treatment at temperatures of between 470 and 560 degrees has to be carried out very carefully and requires a great deal of experience. However, in the course of 200 years, its application has become so much a matter of course that most of the stones available in the trade today are in fact burnt amethysts or smoky quartzes. Only a trained specialist can recognise the signs of heat treatment at all, burnt stones having subtle stripes whilst the yellow of natural ones is cloudy.
I invite you to stop by the Gold Mine today to see this spectacular November birthstone, "The Citrine". Our citrine is set in many exotic and beautiful pendants, earrings and rings sure to please in prices to suit everyone's budget!
Bill Warren, Owner/Registered Gemologist
The Gold Mine