Amethyst and its sister stone Citrine
by Yuman Hussain
Amethyst and Citrine is about the twin stones belonging to the same quartz family or Silicon dioxide sharing most of the properties and yet are different.
Amethyst a stunning purple and Citrine a brilliant yellow stone are varieties of common quartz differentiated only by the color. They belong to macro crystalline variety in which individual crystals are identifiable through naked eyes. The name Amethyst is derived from Greek word ‘Amethustos’ meaning not drunken. It is also possible that the purple color resembled wine hence the name or it was believed to ward off ill effects of alcohol. Citrine being one of the most affordable and beautiful stones derive its name from French word ‘citron’ meaning lemon. It has a lovely yellow color but is extremely rare to find in natural environment. It is generally believed that natural citrine may have occurred as a result of heat from magnetic bodies in close vicinity transforming the color of amethyst to yellow. This yellow color is due to ferric iron impurities in the natural form. Both the stones occur in various forms including as quartz veins and in druzy coverings inside agate lined gaps or cavities forming geodes. The main difference between citrine and amethyst is the presence of oxidized state of iron impurities which is reduced when heated. So what you see in the market is the heated amethyst resembling its yellow color. Amethyst is also heat treated to get attractive deep purple color. This heat treatment is permanent and can not be reversed under normal circumstances. The low grade amethyst is heated at the high temperature to produce the distinct yellow color. These citrine stones tend to have more orange or reddish in color than the natural stones which are pale yellow. Citrine together with amethyst can form bi-colored quartz called Ametrine.
Amethyst index of refraction ranges from 1.544-1.553 and hardness is 7 on the Mohs scale. The crystal system is Trigonal with no Pleochroism. Amethyst and Citrine both belong to Tectosilicate class. The specific gravity is 2.65.Citrine has identical chemical properties of Amethyst. The refraction index of 1.544 – 1.553. The hardness can measured 7 on the Mohs scale. The crystal system is also hexagonal. Citrine has macroscopic crystal structure with horizontal hexagonal prism forming six sided pyramids. It is transparent to translucent in color. The Pleochroism is perceptible in the stone.
Amethyst is often cut or faceted into cabochons for jewellery. Even the expensive gemstones like emerald, diamond, ruby and sapphire etc are often compared to Amethyst for its beauty and color. Regarded as the birthstone for the month of February it is also associated with the astrological constellations of Pisces, Virgo, Aquarius and Capricorn. Amethyst is symbolic gemstone for 17th wedding anniversary. Available in several shades from pale lilac to deep purple it is mined in countries like Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Zambia, Namibia and other South African countries. Rose de France is lilac or pale lavender shaded stone but the exotic ‘Siberian’ stone with deep violet color with red flashes is most sought after. Citrine is one of the birthstones for the month of November other being Topaz. It corresponds to the astrological constellations of Gemini, Aries, Libra and Leo. Gift citrine on your 13th wedding anniversary as it is the symbolic stone for that year. Since it is an inexpensive stone it is sometimes used as an alternative for Topaz. It is also available in all shapes and sizes with shades varying from yellow to gold to orange brown giving brightness to any piece of jewelry. Madeira named after wine is dark orange citrine quartz considered most valuable. Brazil with Rio Grande do Sul is an important mining area for natural citrine. The small deposits of natural citrine are also found at Ural Mountains in Russia, Dauphine, France and Madagascar where amethyst changed its color under natural high temperatures. However most of the citrine available in gem market today is heat treated amethyst. The dark sherry and gold orange colors are mostly preferred for jewelry.
Amethyst stone is considered to have healing properties. Right from ancient and medieval period amulets made from amethyst were worn guarding one from poison, protecting from enemies and victory on the battlefield. The Christians world wide considered it as stone representing piety and celibacy. It is also said to have strong ability to wean away from love effects. Many people believe that it contain the properties which can calm the senses and helps in meditation. Amethyst promotes mental stability and emotional well-being. It is said to aid in treating disorders related to digestive system, nervous system and provides relief from pain. Right from antiquity Citrine was also used by the people as protection against snake venom and guard against evil thoughts. This stone is said to stimulate mental capacities to enhance creativity. It can boost one’s self-confidence. It helps in removing toxins from the body and promoting healing. It can also work wonders in treating disorders related to heart, liver, kidney and digestive system. Amethyst stones and jewelry should be kept away from heated areas or hot sun as the intensive heat can fade and discolor the gem. It also makes the gem dry and brittle. The stones should be washed in plain warm water using mild soap. After washing it should be dried with soft cloth. Avoid giving it for ultrasonic cleaning as high vibration can sometimes damage the stone. Citrine jewelry which is made largely from heating Amethyst at controlled temperature should be used with care to preserve its dazzle. It should not be exposed to strong light or heat as it can permanently change its color. It gets scratches very easily so it should be kept separately.
Once considered at par with expensive gemstones like diamond, emerald ,ruby and sapphire. Amethyst has lost its past grandeur due to discovery of huge deposits in many parts of world including high quality ones from Brazil and Russia. Same is the case with citrine which is commercially produced on large scale in the laboratories. The attractive high quality stones can still manage to turn heads with envy.