Amethyst and citrine are quite possibly some of the most popular gemstones people are drawn to; however, there is confusion between the two. It’s one of the most widely misunderstood crystals. While there are similarities, they also have distinct differences.
In today’s guide, let’s discuss the similarities as well as the differences between citrine and amethyst.
Amethyst vs. Citrine
First of all, let it be known that all citrine was once amethyst, but the only difference here is the chemical composition.
Citrine can occur naturally, however, this is quite rare, as most of what you see on the market is often heat treated. What you often see is the result of amethyst being exposed to higher temperatures in a controlled environment at about 900+ degrees Fahrenheit. When heated, amethyst loses its color and turns into an orange citrine-like color. If citrine is natural, however, it’s due to the result of the natural heat and pressure that was applied to amethyst over a long time. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of years.
While’s nothing wrong with “heat treated amethyst,” per se, it’s still referred to as citrine because this is the color of the quartz. This is often a debate on the internet, but as long as the seller notes that it was heat treated rather than natural, it comes down to personal preference. Heat treated amethyst can often closely resemble that of natural citrine, only that it will be much cheaper.
NOTE: Citrine is always misunderstood. You have “natural citrine,” which is seen as “real” citrine, and you have “citrine,” which people want to refer to as heat treated amethyst. Citrine or not, they are both receiving the same treatment. One natural, one man made. If you want to call a heat treated amethyst citrine, that’s fine, as it technically is citrine; it’s just not natural. Citrine is the COLOR of the quartz.
- Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz, which often ranges in color, from a pale to deep purple. This purple color is caused by the presence of iron as well as other trace elements within the crystal.
- Citrine is a yellow variety of quartz, ranging from a pale to golden, deep yellow. Aside from being natural, the color can be caused by heating amethyst. The color can depend on where it comes from, too. For example, citrine from Zambia can be more of a brown color, whereas Congo can almost have a greenish hue.
- Amethyst is formed in volcanic rocks as well as hydrothermal veins, where you will find silicon dioxide-rich solution deposits. It can also form in geodes, which are hollow cavities lined with crystals.
- Citrine is mostly formed by heating amethyst or even smoky quartz. Natural citrine is rare, but if found, it’s heated naturally by the earth within the mangle. Most will form in this layer, and as the molten rock moves through the mantle, it will create pressure-filled pockets, where the citrine will start to take shape. Inside of these pockets, the gems form, as does the coloration. When the crystals are exposed to the earth’s heat, the iron content may oxidize, leading to the citrine’s yellow color.
- Both amethyst and citrine have a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale with no gemstone cleavage, which means they are quite durable crystals. They are a great choice for making jewelry as well as decorative purposes.
- Typically, amethyst will be more transparent than that of citrine. A natural citrine specimen will often be cloudy or hazy, which is due to iron impurities. High-quality citrine, however, can be clear.
- Heat treated amethyst (citrine) makes up for more than 95% of the market, and this means you can find pieces at a relatively low price. Smaller tumbled stones can be a few dollars, whereas larger pieces weighing more than a few pounds can cost $100+. A good heat treated piece can often be purchased for less than $100. Natural citrine, however, can be much more. Expect to pay $100+ for a smaller cluster that weighs no more than one pound.
- Like citrine, amethyst is plentiful as well and can range anywhere from a few dollars for a tumbled stone to as much as $30 to $100+ for a larger geode weighing about 1-3 pounds.
- Both, you can find these crystals as raw crystals, clusters, geodes, tumbled stones, freeforms as well as carvings, such as stars, moons, etc.
- Amethyst is said to be more of a crystal that ties to your spiritual and psychic awareness. It’s said to be known for a soothing and calming energy, often being used for meditation.
- Citrine is more of a crystal that’s tied to abundance and prosperity. Spiritualists believe this stone can attract wealth and success, and it’s often used to manifest goals. It’s one of the most famous stones used for crystal healing.
- Amethyst is said to be tied to spiritual growth, intuition and wisdom. Many believe it’s a stone of protection as well, which is said to ward off any negative energy.
- Citrine is said to be tied to your self confidence and creativity. It may help manifest joy and optimism into your life. It’s also the official birthstone for November.
Birthstone and Zodiac:
- Citrine is the official birthstone for November and is associated with the Sagittarius sign. It’s also said to be connected to Scorpios, as it’s said to bring optimism and improved confidence.
- Amethyst is the birthstone for February and is associated with Pisces and Aquarius. It’s connected to 6th wedding anniversary stones and Pisces people may be able to benefit from the calming healing energies.
- Citrine is said to be linked to the Solar Plexus Chakra, as it’s believed to help clear energy blockages as well as stimulate creativity.
- Amethyst is linked to your Third Eye Chakra, as it’s believed to help you deal with your intuition as well as your higher state of consciousness.
Heat Treated Amethyst vs Citrine
So, now that you know amethyst heated up turns into citrine, you’re probably wondering how you can tell the difference between a naturally occurring citrine specimen and one that has been heat treated. It can be tough, but here are some things you can look out for:
Check the colors
Usually, the colors can often give away the differences between the two.
What you will want to pay close attention is to the color change amongst the stone. If you see that the tips appear to be “burnt” and much different than the rest of the stone, then it’s more than likely heated, as natural citrine will never be colored this way.
For example, here’s a heat treated amethyst we often sell:
This is a natural citrine:
Also, solid colors can be a red flag as well, especially if it’s a larger piece. If the entire piece seems to not be uniform in color, then it could be man made, especially if the price is affordable. If you look closely, you will often see white crystals at the tip.
Usually, a heat treated amethyst crystal will be more of an orange-yellow, whereas your natural citrine pieces will often be a pale yellow, almost looking “natural.” Picture it as a “champagne” color.
Simply put, look for burnt ends as well as uniform color, as this will determine if your citrine is heat treated or not.
Examine the shape
Aside from the colors, you will want to closely examine the shape.
Usually, the larger geodes, most of which are much larger than your hand tend to be heat treated, as natural citrine forms in smaller formations, rarely in geodes. In general, citrine forms like regular quartz and won’t weigh more than a pound or so.
Take it as a note here that if the citrine looks as if someone sawed a geode in half, it will more than likely be heat treated.
Remember these facts:
- Natural citrine is always heated by the earth (think natural), whereas heat treated amethyst is done by man.
- Untreated citrine is often a pale yellow, whereas heat treated citrine is a much deeper, sometimes burnt orange color.
- Heat treated amethyst will always be plentiful and won’t cost as much as natural citrine.
- Real citrine will not have a white base or come in form of a geode.
- Aside from heat treated amethyst, it’s also known as heated citrine, heated treated citrine, baked amethyst, burnt amethyst and even fake citrine.
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