Updated: Mar 21
If you're a member of our Crystal Subscription, you'll have seen me pop up on a live video in the Facebook group to discuss the subject of whether your citrine may be fake. It came about as a bit of an impromptu video because I had seen an increase in the number of posts in various groups on Facebook and MeWe that were creating a bit of drama about not selling fake citrine.
So, here are my thoughts, along with a little bit of scientific info for good measure.
Citrine is a transparent type of quartz, a silica with the compound SiO2 (silicon dioxide), and there are five main types of citrine that are available on the market today. * natural
* heated amethyst
So, let's start with natural (image above). It's pretty rare. It has a beautiful pale colour to it, most often tea-like or a soft honey hue, and if you're able to find it from a supplier you are going to pay handsomely for it. Citrine is created by Mama Earth using her geo-thermal source, heating natural amethyst and smoky quartz. You'll see most often the paler natural citrine I mentioned just a moment ago, but you can also find some gorgeous rich madeira-colour citrine. Now, this stuff is rarer, and more expensive.
Enhanced citrine is natural citrine that has been heated to 'improve' the colour. It is still true citrine, but it has been heated to enhance the colour.
Heated amethyst (image above) is exactly what it says. It's amethyst that has been subjected to heat to turn that violet colour into yellow or orange. And there'll be varying degrees of colour depending on how hot the baking process is. A pale, low-grade amethyst can achieve a nice citrine colour if you heat it to around 482°C. And for that beautiful rich orange colour, it takes a temperature of up to 550-560°C. Some smokey quartzes can be turned to citrine at a temperature as low as 199°C.
Synthetic citrine is a man-made material that has the same compound. It is still SiO2 with the same mineral structure as natural citrine. Much of this is grown in Russia and it makes citrine inexpensive and easily accessible. If you have a piece of synthetic citrine that has wonderful clarity, you may be able to see that it has some inclusions, and these inclusions are typically what gives it away as synthetic. It's hard to tell with the naked eye in most cases though. Gemologists use some rather fancy equipment to tell them apart, that's how good synthetic citrine can be.
It seems odd that there would be a need for imitation citrine when synthetic citrine is so inexpensive and so abundant. But, there are even lower-cost substitutes that do not have the compound SiO2 and plenty who will just like the look of citrine without the desire to have the real deal.
So is it fake?
I suppose it all depends on your perspective. To me the word fake means to be purporting to be something it's not. In fact, that's essentially how the dictionary defines it.
adjective not genuine; imitation or counterfeit.
So, the fifth of our list of available citrines falls easily into this category. ~ FAKE ~
The rest, not strictly fake at all.
Those citrines that are natural, enhanced, heat-treated and synthetic are genuinely all SiO2 and as such as not fake. They hold the same structure, the same compound. What the enhanced citrine is, is natural citrine that has been enhanced, and if that low-grade amethyst had been left in the ground for a good few decades or centuries, then perhaps the natural geo-thermal process of nature would have transformed it into citrine at some point. We'll never know unless we know where these things are mined and the activity that's going on within that mine and below.
The heat-treated amethyst is merely man mimicking what is occurring naturally. We love citrine so much we want to hurry it up and have a piece of this gorgeous creation.
But, what if you do want a natural piece of citrine?
You're going to pay the price for true natural citrine. And if you're happy to do that you should go right ahead! We have to trust that those selling it are being genuine. The commercial market for crystals is, for the most part, very transparent. I certainly seel my obsidian as obsidian glass. When someone asks me if opalite is man-made, I will most certainly answer with a definite yes. And when someone asks me if my citrine is genuine, I will also say yes, because it is. It is SiO2. I don't buy in imitation citrine, but I do have citrine that is enhanced. It is still citrine, it is still real. It is merely enhanced. A bit like the labradorite I sell that is polished by some very clever stonemason to enhance the labradorescence it holds within it, because I know it will appeal more to the majority of my customers.
If I were to hold some citrine that was heat-treated amethyst, it would state that it was so. And again, if it were synthetic, I'd let you know.
But I appreciate that not all sellers are like that, and they're out to make money only and don't care how they do it. This is why it's important for those of us who are in this sector because of a love for all the wonderful things that crystals do for us, to be up front and honest.
But does it affect the crystal?
Disregarding imitation citrine entirely, which we now know isn't citrine at all, the simple answer is no. However, there is one proviso to that answer with regards the stability of the crystal.
When we heat-treat a crystal to the intensity that it changes colour, it degrades the stability of it in a small way which can lead to the crystal being more likely to break-apart. Small bits may flake off, and so in this sense, it does affect the crystal. But as I've already mentioned, it does not change the molecular structure of the crystal, it is still and will forever and ever be, SiO2.
So what about the healing properties then?
All of the SiO2 crystals have some common ground in their healing properties. They're all quartzes, they can all be programmed, they're all uplifting, energising, cleansing, and protective. But as we know, you'll find differences that appear with the variations of colour. We use the colour vibration when we work with crystals too.
Amethyst will have it's own claming, soothing energies; rose quartz will work on the higher heart chakra, it'll help us embrace self-love, and nurture friendships and relationships; smokey quartz is particularly grounding and the energy that helps us feel protected is stronger; citrine is a crystal of abundance and is often thought of as a money stone. It also helps us feel really safe, like we're being wrapped up in a big hug. Many of these additional properties are brought on by the colour of the crystal. So when we heat-treat amethyst, the properties change from those of the violet spectrum, to those on the yellow and orange spectrum.
I don't know how you feel, but I even feel that different pieces of the same type of crystal can have very different vibrations. They may be both coloured purple, but I have two very different healing amethyst crystals. One that is most definitely more calming and the other that exudes a strong, powerful spiritual connection to the Divine.
So, in conclusion (I'm told every good article should have one).......
Imitation citrine is fake. Absolute, fact, no argument from me.
The citrine that is on the market commercially is citrine. It's not a fake, but it may well have been enhanced. It will work as well for you today as it did yesterday before you found out it was heat-treated amethyst or enhanced natural citrine. We enhance crystals all the time. The very act of carving a beautiful shape out of a crystal is enhancing it, polishing it is enhancing it, and sticking a chain in one side of it so we can swing it from side to side, is enhancing it.
And that, as they say, is that!
As ever, feel free to comment or share your experiences with citrine. I'd love to hear about them. It's a fantastic crystal, and it will always have a place in my healing crystal set, and I hope it finds a home in yours too.
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