Citrine and Sh*trine: The Debate of Heat Treated Amethyst
If you're here, then that means there is a question on your mind. It could be "What is citrine?" "What does natural citrine look like?" "Is citrine heat treated amethyst?"
Simply, there are a lot of controversies, half-truths, and sensationalism when it comes to the debate about real citrine vs. fake heat-treated amethyst. We've all seen the sensationalized images on social media, promising the ferreting-out of "fake" citrine and alluding to the fact that the crystal community has duped you. While that makes for great clickbait, it's not that black and white.
When you get past the flash-bang of the circus-style antics, and you dig into the subject from a geological and gemological standpoint, you’ll see that there are people long-vetted in the community who have difficulty telling the difference between real and “fake” citrine.
The bottom line for crystal healers and those using citrine for crystal healing practices is: whether heated by Mother Earth or heated in the mines, the energy spectrum of natural citrine and heat-treated amethyst bears only slight variance. They both start life as quartz and share similar properties at a molecular level.
Your real citrine, even if heat-treated, will still provide the full range of crystal healing properties attributed to citrine. Rest assured, nothing changes whether Mother Earth heats it or not, and you don't need to worry yourself or become anxious that you've been tricked.
But how can you tell if the citrine you’ve purchased is the real deal, and what started this debate in the first place?
What's in a name?
First, the name "citrine" is at the center of the debate, as some will say it's only yellow quartz. Should heat-treated gemstones that bear the golden-hue of citron, for which citrine is named, be called "real citrine"? At this time, it is an industry standard in the gemstone community for the name to encompass all incarnations of the stone. While "citrine" may have been initially reserved solely for the citrine 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 make the lemon color a dark-brown hue.
Real citrine and amethyst are both varieties of quartz. Citrine was named for its citrus-like color, the yellow tint that remarkably stands out in the stark shade of clear quartz. More colorfully, Amethyst was named from the Greek "amethystos," meaning "not drunk." 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 shade 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.
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."
Who dun it?
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 that your citrine gemstone wasn't heated somewhere along the way. That is the long and short of the debate, and that is what is so polarizing about the topic. Social media posts and gem snob sites may proclaim they have the beginning and end of all evidence. But at the center of the story is where you find the truth. How can you tell if real citrine was created by the warmth of Mother Earth, or if someone treated it after it was mined?
This lack of evidence from the mine to the vendor selling your citrine is why most hesitate to claim their citrine is natural or heat-treated undeniably. Citrine itself, even when natural, can be heat-treated! Citrine, amethyst, and smoky quartz are gems that can be heat-treated and sold as "Real Citrine."
How do you know?
There are theories, and when you start reading legitimate websites with people discussing the topic from a scientific standpoint, you see that people argue the validity of those 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 gemstones, it shouldn't change its hue, but heat-treated amethyst should.
While it might aid in identifying, you can find reputable sources that refute this method. Some may 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, which is not always accurate. Those within the scholarly gemology community argue about the validity of on-sight identification. Suppose those who live & breathe in the gem/geo community have arguments about validating real citrine by sight alone. 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, but the actual core of the matter is that you won't know unless you have followed your specimen from being pulled from the Earth’s core herself to your hand.
Find the Stone That Speaks to You
If you love the stone, if it speaks to you, then love it for the gorgeous, beautiful creation it is. So, when it comes to real citrine vs. fake, "fake citrine" isn't fraud when it's a genuine gemstone. Whether it's citrine heated by the Earth, citrine heated to improve its color saturation, amethyst heated by the Earth, amethyst heated by the miners, or heated smoky quartz, if it speaks to you & you love it, then welcome it home.
No matter how your real citrine came to be citrine, it works the same for crystal healing if it's a genuine gemstone, not resin, plastic, or glass. Hopefully you can enjoy citrine in all its forms, from bracelets to rings, raw to tumbled, and point to orb!
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