Citrine is a beautiful yellow to orange variety of quartz that is popular and highly sought-after. However, as with many valuable items, there are fake or imitation versions that can be hard to distinguish from the real thing. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the characteristics of genuine citrine and discuss various ways to identify real citrine from its fake counterparts.
What Is Citrine and Its Significance?
Citrine is a yellow to orange variety of quartz, with colors ranging from pale yellow to deep reddish-orange. Natural citrine is rare and prized for its beautiful colors. The more intense the color, the higher the value in general.
Throughout history, citrine has been used as a decorative and functional gemstone in various cultures, and today, it remains a popular choice for both consumers and collectors.
Characteristics of Genuine Citrine
To determine whether a piece of citrine is genuine or fake, consider the following:
- Color: Natural citrine exhibits a subtle and even color distribution, while fake citrine often has a deeper, more vibrant hue with uneven color distribution. Even when there are different shades of yellow in a natural citrine, the transition between colors are subtle and gradual.
- Inclusions: Genuine citrine typically has some inclusions, while glass imitations often lack imperfections.
- Internal Rainbows: Real citrine may display internal rainbows when light passes through it, while glass may not produce the same effect.
What Does 'Fake' Citrine Looks Like?
You might think that 'fake' citrine is completely artificial or synthetic, but that's not always the case. Sometimes, 'fake' citrine is actually an altered form of another genuine gemstone or an imitation made from different materials.
One common example of 'fake' citrine is heat-treated amethyst. Both amethyst and citrine are types of quartz. When amethyst is heated, it can change color and look like citrine. Although heat-treated amethyst is still a real gemstone, it's not the same as natural citrine and is worth less in the market. You can identify heat-treated amethyst by its intense color at the crystal tips, which fades towards the base. Its colors are often more uniform and vibrant, unlike the subtle color transitions in natural citrine.
Another type of 'fake' citrine is glass imitations. These imitations are crafted to resemble citrine's appearance but don't have the same properties or value as the real thing. You can spot glass imitations by their lack of inclusions and uniformity, which are different from the natural variations found in real citrine. Glass is also less hard than citrine (around 5.5 on the Mohs scale, compared to citrine's 7), making it easier to scratch. However, be careful when doing scratch tests, as they can damage the gemstone.
Differentiating Real Citrine from Imitations
Real Citrine vs. Glass
- Scratch Test: Citrine has a Mohs hardness of 7, while glass is generally around 5.5. A scratch test can help differentiate them, but it's not recommended as it can damage the gemstone.
- Refractive Index: Real citrine has a refractive index of 1.54-1.55, while glass typically ranges from 1.45-1.50. A refractometer can help measure this property, but this test is usually conducted by a professional gemologist.
- Magnification: Under magnification, natural citrine may reveal inclusions or growth patterns, while glass will appear more uniform and free of flaws. Unless the inclusion you see is bubbles. If you see any bubbles in the piece, that piece is glass as natural citrine won’t have any.
Real Citrine vs. Heat-Treated Amethyst
Colors: Heat-treated amethyst often shows colors that are more intense color at the tips of the crystals and fading toward the base. If you see colors that are a darker yellow/orange, then it’s likely that it’s a heated amethyst instead of natural citrine. Natural citrine is usually lighter in color.
Confirming the Authenticity of Citrine
To confirm the authenticity of your citrine, consult a professional gemologist or a reputable jeweler. They have the expertise and equipment to accurately assess the gemstone. Gemological laboratories can also provide certification for your citrine, confirming its authenticity and providing additional information about its origin, treatment, and quality.
Identifying real citrine from its fake counterparts can be a challenging task. By examining factors such as color, inclusions, and refractive index, you can increase your chances of distinguishing genuine citrine from heat-treated amethyst, glass imitations, or dyed and coated stones. Consulting a professional gemologist is always a reliable way to confirm your gemstone's authenticity and ensure that you are investing in a genuine citrine.
With a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of real citrine and the methods to identify it, you can make informed decisions when purchasing or collecting citrine gemstones. By doing so, you can appreciate the beauty and value of this stunning and rare variety of quartz. With this knowledge, hopefully you can now buy citrine with more confident!