If your birthday is in November, your birthstone is the golden citrine: a gift from the sun.Those born in November are lucky enough to have two stunning gems as their birthstones. One is topaz, which comes in a variety of colours, and the other is sunny citrine. Citrine is the yellow variety of quartz, and its name comes from the Old French word for lemon. Its warm colour is said to be a gift from the sun, making this golden gemstone the perfect option for brightening up a typically chilly autumnal month.
Citrine has been a popular decorative gemstone since ancient times. Bearing such a resemblance to yellow topaz, it’s not surprising the two November birthstones share a history of mistaken identity and both are thought to carry similar powers. For some, citrine is considered a healing gemstone – calming, soothing and comforting. It is also said to spark imagination and encourage fresh beginnings and prosperity.
In ancient times, citrine was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts. The Egyptians were among the first to discover the yellow stone and used the gems as talismans. The ancient Greeks carved iconic images into them and shaped them into rock crystal ornaments, while Roman priests made them into rings. Between 300 and 150 BC they were found on the handles of swords and daggers in Scotland. While thought to be added for decorative purposes, the stone was also considered as protection. Today, citrine is known as the ‘merchant’s stone’ and is associated with success and wealth.
Citrine is also believed to have many positive physical attributes, including stimulating digestion, the spleen and the pancreas and is said to help with eye problems, increase blood circulation and reverse degenerative diseases. Importantly, its radiant warmth is said to help those that suffer with seasonal affective disorder.
Citrine tones range from juicy lemon yellow to beautiful shades of amber. The yellow colour is caused by traces of iron in the quartz. This occurs very rarely in nature, so most citrine is made by heat-treating other varieties of quartz – usually purple amethyst or smoky quartz, which are both more common and less expensive. By applying heat to these gems, they turn from their original colour to a gorgeous shade of gold.
Natural citrine is almost always a pale-yellow colour and commands a far higher price than the processed variety. The most sought-after citrine gemstones are a clear, radiant yellow-to-brownish-red colour, however this is particularly rare for naturally-occurring citrine. This rarity means that the natural stones that fall into this colour category have a particularly high price tag.
The most abundant sources of natural citrine are found in Bolivia, Madagascar, Mexico, Spain and Uruguay. Amethysts that are heat-treated to a golden colour are mostly mined in Brazil, although other sources include France, Russia and the US, specifically California, Colorado and North Carolina.
Citrine is fairly easy to come by, relatively affordable and available in a wide range of shapes and sizes, including very large sizes, making it suitable for large pendants and statement jewellery. It ranks a seven out of 10 on the Mohs scale, meaning it is relatively durable against scratches and everyday wear and tear.
The gemstone was particularly popular in the Art Deco era in the early 20th century, when Hollywood movie stars including Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford were known to wear large and elaborate citrine-adorned jewellery.
More recently, celebrities including Emma Watson, Kate Winslet, Naomie Harris and Tara Reid have all been photographed wearing beautiful citrine jewellery at red carpet events.
In 2015, Angelina Jolie notably donated a large citrine necklace to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Gem Collection. The breathtaking 18k yellow gold necklace, designed by Jolie herself, features 64 graduated bezel-set cushion-shaped citrine gems with a 177.11-carat pear-shaped citrine drop.
Other famous sunshine jewellery includes a stunning citrine and diamond Art Deco tiara that Cartier created for the coronation of King George VI in 1937. The centre stone is a 62.35-carat emerald-cut citrine, which can be dismounted and worn as a clip brooch. Indeed, citrine is popular with royalty around the world; Queen Sirikit of Thailand owns a diamond and citrine tiara and Queen Sonja of Norway received a modern, metallic, citrine tiara for her 60th birthday. The Luxembourg Royal Family also owns a collection of citrine-adorned jewellery.
Jewellery containing citrine is said to radiate positive energy and bring calmness, prosperity and warmth to the wearer. So, if you or your loved one were born in November, warm and glowing citrine is the perfect, thoughtful gift.