Real Citrine vs Fake Heat-Treated Amethyst - The Real Story Behind the Controversy

Real Citrine vs Fake Heat-Treated Amethyst - The Real Story Behind the Controversy


How to tell real citrine from amethyst

There's a lot of controversy when it comes to citrine and heat-treated amethyst, and there's a lot of half-truths, random information, and sensationalism when it comes to the debate about citrine.

Bottom line for crystal healers and those using citrine for crystal healing practices;  whether heated by Mother Earth, or heated at the mines, the energy spectrum of natural citrine or heat-treated amethyst bears little variance.  We recommend reading articles or watching vlogs from vetted crystal healers, this is one of our favorites.  They are all SiO2.  Don't fall for the hype, don't let someone derail you with antics, you can't change the physical, molecular structure with heat-treatment.

Your citrine, even if heat-treated will still provide the full range of crystal healing properties attributed to citrine.  Rest-assured nothing changes whether its heated by Mother Earth or not, and you don't need to worry yourself, or become anxious, that you've been tricked.

We've all seen the sensationalized images on social media, promising the ferreting-out of "fake" citrine, and alluding to the fact that you've been duped by the crystal community, and while that makes for fantastic click-bait, it's not that black and white.  When you get past the flash-bang of the circus-style antics, and you really dig into the gem community with authors from a geological standpoint and gemological standpoint, you see that there are people long-vetted in the community who have difficulty telling the difference, and the reason is at the core of the stones.  They all start life as quartz, and they all share similar properties at a molecular level.  Citrine, Amethyst, and Smoky Quartz are the culprits at the core of this internet sensation.

The photos comparing tumbled stones to raw stones or crystal formations isn't exactly showing you apples to apples.  There is a great mineral resource that shows you exact specimens for comparison so you can see genuine citrine, amethyst, smoky quartz, and heat-treated specimens in one sitting, including the more confusing smoky quartz debacle, which just further tangles matters for many.

Real Fake CitrineLet's first tackle the name "citrine" which is at the center of the debate.  Should heat-treated gemstones that bear the golden-hue of citron, for which citrine is named, be called "citrine"?  It is an industry standard within the gemstone community, at this time in the 21st century, for the name to encompass all incarnations of the stone.  While "citrine" may have originally been reserved solely for the citrine which is produced by the heating of Mother Earth upon the stone, it has now broadened to encompass amethyst which is heated by mankind at the mines to produce the lemon-color to dark-brown hue.

Citrine is a variety of quartz, and so is amethyst.  Citrine was named for its citrus-like color, the yellow hue that remarkably stands out in the stark-shade of clear quartz.  Amethyst, more colorfully, was named from the Greek "a-methystos" which means "not drunk", because it was thought wearing or carrying the stone would prohibit inebriation.  Amethyst is noted by its violet color, and unique spectrum of purple hues.

What causes natural citrine to have its citron-colored hue is something that is widely debated in the gem community, and rightly so, as some attribute the formation of citrine to a step away from being smoky quartz.  You have a trifecta of gems at the center of the citrine vs sh*trine debate, and what most shock-and-awe articles leave out is the fact that smoky quartz can be heated as well to produce, you guessed it, "citrine".

Real citrine vs Fake citrine

Why isn't it labeled "heat treated" then?  Unless you have an unbroken chain of provenance from the time your specimen was mined until it came to be in your hand, there isn't any way for you to tell absolutely, without a doubt, beyond all shadow of possibility, that your citrine wasn't heated somewhere along the way.  That really is the long & short of the debate, and that is what is so polarizing about the topic.  You see the circus-event social media posts & gem snob sites proclaim they have the beginning and end of all evidence to stand the test of time, but at the center of the story you find the truth, how can you tell if citrine was created by the warmth of Mother Earth in her geo-thermal bosom, or if someone treated it after it was mined?

This lack of chain of evidence from the mine to the vendor selling your citrine is why most hesitate to undeniably claim their citrine is natural or heat-treated.  Citrine itself, even when natural, can be heat-treated!  Yes, it's true, and mind-blowing to the argument that all citrine is just heat-treated amethyst.  Citrine, amethyst, and smoky quartz are all gems that can be heat-treated and sold as "Citrine". 

How to tell fake citrine

There are theories, and when you really start reading legitimate websites with people who are discussing/debating the topic from a scientific standpoint, you see that people argue the validity of the theories from both sides of the aisle.

For instance, there is the proposed method of using polarized light to test the dichroic properties of the stones.  If you put polarizing light to smoky quartz or natural citrine, it shouldn't change its hue, but heat-treated amethyst should.  While it might aid in the identification, you can find reputable sources that refute this method and say that depending on where it was sourced will depend on whether or not that method works.

The most touted theory is that it can be differentiated by sight alone, and that is not always true and is speculative at best.  Those within the scholarly community of stones argue about the validity of on-sight identification, and if those who live & breathe in the gem/geo community have arguments about being able to validate citrine by sight alone, then what makes you think social media bait-clickers are going to be able to tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt?

You will see that most reputable geo/gem professionals agree that the vast majority of citrine on the market is all heat-treated, whether it was heat-treated by Mother Earth or heat-treated at the mine remains the subject of debate, and makes for fantastic click-baiting on social mediate sites, but the real core of the matter is that you won't know unless you have followed your specimen from being pulled from the Earth herself to your hand.

If you love the stone, if it speaks to you, then love it for the gorgeous, beautiful creation it is.  "Fake citrine" isn't fake when it's a real gemstone, and whether it's citrine heated by the Earth, citrine heated to improve its color saturation, heated amethyst by the Earth, heated amethyst by the miners, or heated smoky quartz, if it speaks to you & you love it, then welcome it home.

No matter how your citrine came to be citrine, it works the same for crystal healing purposes if it's a genuine gemstone and not resin, plastic, or glass.