Gemstones: Little honeys

You know the criteria for coloured stones: pleasing saturation, very good to excellent cut and polish, set well. But, which ones? Today's windows are filled with citrine, a stunning stone that's a terrific buy.

Citrine is an initially colourless or grey macro-crystalline quartz that is mined mostly in Brazil. It is then heat-treated to produce a range of colour from light yellow to brownish-red. (Natural colour yellow to orange-yellow citrine exists, but is rare.)

Citrine belongs to the same family as rose quartz, smoky quartz, prasiolite and amethyst. There's a hue for you, at a fraction of the cost of the Big Four (diamond, sapphire, ruby, emerald).

Usually, the deeper the colour, the more expensive the citrine, with the rich madeira colour especially prized. Below, an ombré effect shows the range. Nicole Landaw's 5-stone citrine necklace6mm x 4mm citrines, 14k chain, is now sold; price was $US 1, 600.

This Tiffany Paloma Picasso Olive Leaf ring shows off a big lemony cabochon citrine; price, about $US 1, 250. This is an example of the crossover of terms; the stone might be called "lemon quartz" by another jeweller.

At 7 on the Mohs scale, citrine is durable enough for jewellery, but avoid it for a ring that will be worn daily. Store yours in its own little bag, because any of the quartzes can scratch when in contact with other pieces.

Like amethyst, citrine cabs can be re-polished but are tricky to unmount, so it's smarter and cheaper to baby them a bit.

I especially like citrine for earrings. Three pairs, showing different cuts and colours, all alluring:

Left: Faceted 6mm ball studs on 14k posts from Etsy seller FineMetalWorks; price, $US 75. Not presently on the site, but contact Tyler to have a pair made for you.
Centre: Chic cabuchon drops on18k earwires, from a French First Dibs seller; price (currently on sale) about $US 500.
Right: A honey-hued pair of raw citrines set in a handmade gold-plated wrap, from Etsy seller gazellejewelry; price, $US 78.

Victorian citrine and imitation citrine

The Victorians adored their citrine. When pieces turn up on the antique market, be sure to determine whether it is genuine, or a glass facsimile, also popular at the time. Once again, I put in an admiring word for century-old artistry.

Now sold but a splendid example: sterling silver and citrine necklace, ca. 1900, from The Antique Jewellery Group; price was £875.

An antique for a song! The stone is actually glass, but it's still a lovely design of its era. Brass and glass 'citrine' brooch, ca. 1890; price, about $10 (plus shipping) from Etsy seller Gina Dustin.

Citrines in the nudo

The big luxury houses favour citrine; one of the best-known is Pomellato, whose iconic Nudo ring floats a checkerboard-faceted citrine held by a hidden bezel. (The stone is cut like a popover.) The Nudo is an elegant, simple ring— and you can get the look for less.

Left: Pomellato Nudo, 9mm citrine with rose gold, $US 1, 655.
Right: 12mm x 12mm citrine ring, $US 75 from Etsy seller NoisetteJewels. The band is gold vermeil (also available in silver). The ring is also made in a smaller stone size, great for stacking, and there's an earring version.

One more citrine tip: Shoppers often confuse topaz and citrine.

Topaz is an entirely different mineral, harder but more brittle, and more expensive than citrine. In the yellows to deep madeira hues, they look very similar. Citrines are sometimes given stage names to pass them off as topaz, so look out for adjectives like "Bahia Topaz", "Spanish Topaz" or "Scotch Topaz"; these are actually citrine.

Faceted citrine with good quality and polish makes luscious beads. Twenty inch necklace of beads (width, 7mm-12mm; length, 15mm)  from Etsy seller LMGems; price, about $US 100:

A strand of citrines looks smart with navy, black, grey, chocolate or white; one strand of coloured beads renews a wardrobe of neutrals.

If you love colour and stones, think of citrines, alluring to the eye, gentle to the pocketbook!



Laura J said…
And perfect for fall ! Such colours. I have topaz studs which come out to play in autumn!! Love that ombré look
LauraH said…
Wow, what a stunning...and surprising...range of pieces. Those beads!! And I learned something new, as always.
1900 is VERY late Victorian (I checked). She died in 1901. These days I've been eyeing a malachite necklace, though I read that it is a soft stone. It is very pretty, and of course not terribly expensive, as semi-precious stones go.
Ellen said…
How fantastic!! Citrine has been my favorite gemstone for decades! Thank you!
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Because it is so long (64 years) the Victorian Era is often broken into Early, Mid and Late or Romantic, Grand and Aesthetic Your research can take you into some fascinating examples of each subset.

re the term "semi-precious", see

LauraH: Thank you; I have a soft spot for citrine.
Susan B said…
Beauties!! I actually have that Pomellato citrine ring on order! I have the Lemon Quartz already and plan to wear them stacked.

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