What Am I Buying? Is it Natural Citrine or Heat Treated Amethyst?
I had this discussion on Reddit recently and thought it was worth putting together a detailed post about how to tell if the crystal you want to buy is Citrine or Heat-Treated Amethyst. The passion and debate regarding this topic is wide-spread, but let me assure you that a few key indicators can quickly tell you if you are truly buying natural, untreated Citrine.
Heat Treated Amethyst makes up 99% of the “Citrine” Market
The most important fact to know is that natural, untreated Citrine is a very scarce commodity. It is easy to be confused by what is and isn’t treated, because the market is currently flooded with heat-treated amethyst. What we have come to recognize as Citrine isn’t reflective of the actual color and structure of natural Citrine. Here are a few key indicators to help you tell the difference.
Citrine is NOT Bright Yellow or Golden
Natural, untreated Citrine is a very pale, pale yellow color. It’s almost “off white” and can sometimes be more on the Smoky looking side. See the picture below. Heat-treated Amethyst will always show up as a bright, brilliant golden yellow color, a dark orange, or dark and smoky. Whether it is a point, cluster, tumbled, faceted or beads – it will be clearly golden, yellow, or orange. Untreated Citrine can almost look like a slightly darker version of Quartz. So if you are looking at a potential purchase and it is obviously bright in color – it is most likely heat treated.
Natural Citrine is Scarce; therefore, it is Expensive
Untreated Citrine is going to be a pretty pricey purchase. I recently purchased a medium sized point (15 grams) for $30. If you are really interested in owning natural Citrine, and working with its untreated energy, be prepared to spend a little money and make an investment in your piece. If a specimen is selling for a low price point, and it’s not specifically labeled as untreated, then it’s safe to assume it’s treated. However… expensive price does not necessarily mean that it is untreated. Always refer to physical appearance as the primary indicator.
**Additional Note** The term “Natural DOES NOT necessarily indicate that it in untreated! The Amethyst that is heat treated is still “natural”, it’s not man-made, so sellers may still label heat-treated Amethyst as “Natural.” If untreated is important to you – look for a statement that specifically states “untreated.” **Additional Note #2** I have STILL seen online sellers claiming that their Citrine is “not heat-treated Amethyst” when it clearly is. Keep referring to the picture above!
Untreated Citrine is Scarce; therefore, not Tumbled or made into Beads
I tumble and sell Heat-Treated Amethyst as Citrine, but I do state this in the listing. Rough rock sellers will rarely indicate if a batch of rough is heat-treated in any way (this goes for Red Tiger’s Eye as well, which is heat-treated Tiger’s Eye). However, untreated Citrine is so rare and expensive that no one would DARE put it in a tumbler, or make beads out of it. It would be like throwing that Diamond rough into a tumbler. I do sell tumbled Citrine (aka Heat-Treated Amethyst) in my Crystal Healing store with the disclaimer that it is likely heat-treated. Even heat-treated Amethyst rough is fairly expensive, so tumbled stones are still pricier than your average tumbled gemstone, but it should still not be priced anywhere NEAR the cost of an untreated Citrine gem. I would assume that ANY tumbled “Citrine” is heat-treated. The vast majority of untreated Citrine is sold in the form of points as shown below.
I will also go out on a limb and make the assertion that there are NO untreated Citrine beads out there, so that bracelet or string of beads you are looking at – it is heat-treated. And the majority of bead sellers do not bother to list Citrine beads as heat-treated or not, so I would just assume they are.
In Summary, Untreated Citrine Requires a Hunt
If you are genuinely interested in owning some untreated Citrine, then you will need to go out looking specifically for that in mind. Make sure the pieces you are looking at have the proper color, point and price range.
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