Gemstone, Tarot and Healing

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There is a fad on social media to warn others about Fake Citrine.

The reason for this accusation is that naturally it is very pale, but by heating this crystal to high temperatures, it turns a beautiful, golden yellow.

Citrine has been around for centuries, but heat treatment doesn’t make it fake.

I would like to put a case forward that Heat-Treated (HT) Citrine has a place in crystal healing.

In Gemmology, the definition of Citrine is a yellow to yellow-orange or yellow-green variety of Quartz crystal. Whether it got its colour naturally or artificially does not alter its name.

Does fake Citrine exist!

If you buy a piece of Citrine, and it’s made of yellow coloured glass, then yes, this would be fake Citrine. With the popularity of HT Citrine falling, the demand for natural Citrine will most likely increase the amount of fake Citrine on the market.

Enhancement of gemstones is an ancient process, making them more attractive to buyers. The more vibrant these crystals are, the more money they sell for. The jewellery trade has been relying on these methods for centuries. There is evidence that the carnelian used in Tutankhamun’s tomb shows signs of heat-treatment.

Natural Citrine
Natural Citrine

Natural Citrine is a Thing

Natural Citrine does occur and it’s a pale yellow or honey coloured, often with smoky tones. The pieces that show vibrancy and clarity are rare and these will usually end up in the jewellery trade, thus commanding an extremely high price.

Ethical Citrine

The vast majority of Citrine currently available is the heat-treated variety. The process involves heating poor quality Amethyst to change its colour, and thus increase its value. The demand for HT Citrine makes use of a worthless by-product of Quartz and Amethyst mining and an added income for miners in South America.

By contrast most of the natural Citrine appearing on the market seems to be from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Congolese mines have faced criticism for human rights abuses, corruption, environmental destruction, unsafe practices, and child labour. Unless the seller has seen the piece pulled out the ground, they will not know how ethical it is.

It seems counterintuitive that customers would want to buy potentially unethically crystals, rather than artificially altered ones.

Using Heat-Treated Citrine for Healing

Heat-treated Citrine has been available for centuries, and in the holistic sector it was almost impossible to find natural Citrine. Some of those calling out HT Citrine also claim that aura crystals have even more healing energy, due to the metals in the coating. The coating process involves the crystals being heated over 800°C, so basically the same as with Citrine.

Unless they specifically name it natural, you can assume that they are using HT in any healing or spiritual uses. So, in short, if you do not need natural Citrine, just use the heat-treated pieces for the following reasons: –

  • It’s cheap! An average sized tumble stone of HT Citrine is about £1. A natural piece of bright coloured Citrine the same size, would cost significantly more
  • Known as the sunshine stone as it has a bright, vibrant yellow colour. It supplies positive vibrations of happiness and joy
  • There are very few gemstones that are yellow. Colours have a vibratory frequency no matter what the status of the crystal. If you want to work with your solar plexus chakra, this is a great stone to use
  • As a metaphor for transformation, what better than a crystal that has changed from one to another?
  • It is ethical. It uses poor-quality Amethyst that is usually worthless. Heat treatment stops it from ending up as waste
  • If you take crystalline structure into account with crystal healing, it’s virtually identical to natural Citrine

Heat-Treated is Not FAKE CITRINE!

If someone tells you to buy real Citrine, try to work out the reasons why.

Some examples include below and you may be able to come up with more.

  • Is it an ego thing?
  • Does the expert sell natural Citrine for a premium?
  • is it a form of gatekeeping?

Whatever it is, don’t feel that HT Citrine is ‘fake’, because it isn’t!

One day someone will trademark a great name for it and its reputation, demand, and its price will go up.

The Science

I found this brief mineralogical explanation on the transformation of Amethyst and smoky Quartz to yellow form. It gives the scientific reasons for the colour change.

As a part of this the several natural (and unnatural) colours of quartz var rock crystal have agreed names, under which they are traded. One such is citrine. The processes by which such colours are caused was not generally understood and differentiated until the 1980’s.Mostly, to get yellow/gold quartz one must start (in geological process or in the lab), with rock crystal (pure monocrystalline SiO2) in which a trace amount of the Si has been substituted by Fe in the crystal lattice. This forms as an amethyst-coloured crystal. If the substitution Fe present is Fe3+, and the temperature of the crystal is raised to somewhere in the 400-450 deg C range, the amethyst will lose its purple colour becoming a light golden yellow named citrine.This colour change can be reversed by gamma radiation. If this light citrine is heated further to 500-550 deg C, the Citrine darkens in colour to a golden/orange/rusty-brown. This higher temperature change is not reversible by irradiation. Finally, if heating is continued to 600 deg C or above the crystal reverts to colourless or milky.However, if the Fe in Si substitution is the Fe2+ ion, then as the amethyst is heated, at only 350-400 deg C it will become first colourless and, if the temperature is further raised to 400-500 deg C, the colour changes again to green (var. prasiolite). If heated to above 600 deg C prasiolite also becomes colourless/milky. If prasiolite is gamma irradiated, its colour should revert to amethyst.The other form of yellow quartz which can form geologically or in the lab is obtained by gentle heating of some smoky quartz. Smoky quartz is formed by the irradiation of quartz that has traces of both Al and Fe in substitution for Si. Depending on the quantity of the chromophore impurities present in the smoky quartz, gentle heating 140 – 280 deg C will produce any one of the following three changes:– From Smoky to colourless.– Smoky to a slightly greenish yellow (lemon quartz)– Smoky to blue or green.Further heating to 360 deg C turns the coloured forms colourless.In sum, all properly named citrine is formed, in the earth or in the lab, by heating amethyst. Lemon quartz is formed by heating *some* smoky quartz.

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