Citrine is rare in nature. In the days before modern gemology, its tawny colour caused it to be confused with topaz. Today, its attractive colour, plus the durability and affordability it shares with most other quartzes, make it the top-selling yellow-to-orange gem. In the contemporary market, citrine’s most popular shade is an earthy, deep, brownish or reddish orange.
People have used quartz in jewellery for thousands of years. Egyptians gathered ornately striped agates from the shore and used them as talismans, the ancient Greeks carved rock crystal ornaments that glistened like permafrost, and the hands of Roman pontiffs bore rings set with huge purple amethysts. Natural citrine is rare, and today most citrine quartz is the result of heat treatment of amethyst quartz. Even so, gems from the Victorian era have surfaced, and it’s not hard to imagine that citrine was treasured even in earlier times.