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Golden Topaz - Citrine?


I have a question about topaz. Rio sells Natural Golden Topaz,
which, as they explain, is known as precious topaz, the most valuable
color of topaz, but I remember reading somewhere that golden topaz is
in fact citrine (and thus quartz). Would someone be so kind to
explain what golden topaz is? Is golden topaz the same as precious
topaz and is it topaz or is it citrine? Thank you. Best, Will


Rio sells both topaz and citrine. Topaz is not citrine. They are
two totally different minerals in totally different families of gems.

Sio2, Silicon oxide or silica				Al2SiO4 (F,OH)2  Aluminum
silicate fluoride hydroxide
Crystal Symmetry:	Trigonal			Crystal	Symmetry: orthorhombic
Specific Gravity:  2.65					Specific Gravity: 3.50-3.60
R.I. (Refractive Index: 1.544-1.553	R.I.:  1.606-1.644 

There have been misleading trade names used for topaz which, for one
was bohemian topaz, was used for citrine quartz. It is improper to
call citrine, topaz. Golden topaz can and may often be confused for
citrine, but they are two totally different types of gem stone each
with its own characteristic properties.

I hope this helps,
Phillip Scott G.G.
Technical Support & Sales
Rio Grande


Will, Golden topaz is NOT the most valuable color of topaz. As a rule
of thumb, the pink, red and orange variants from the same deposit (
Ouro Preto, Brazil ) can easily be much more valuable. Natural blue
topaz can also be more valuable than golden topaz inasmuch as it is
very rare. ( Irradiated blue topaz is one of the least valuable
gemstones ) Pale yellow topaz is very common and not particularly

Historically, citrine has been sold as golden topaz, but that, of
course, is a fraud.

( Potentially, you could call it a compound fraud inasmuch as most
citrine is heat treated amethyst ) Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, Ca.



I’m not a gemologist, and I know that others on the list will
undoubtedly jump in on this one. However, it’s my clear
understanding from the people I buy gems from on a regular basis as
well as from my research that natural golden topaz and imperial topaz
(a peachier color of golden) are both the “precious” topaz varieties.

It’s also my understanding that citrine is actually closely related
to amethyst (which is related to quartz), and much of the inexpensive
citrine on the market is amethyst that has been heat-treated to
change its color. The “true” citrine is more expensive and more clear
in color. Madeira citrine can’t be produced by heating amethyst, I
don’t think.

Hope this helps, and I’m looking forward to seeing what others have
to say.

Karen Goeller

Handcrafted and Unique Artisan Jewelry


Citrine is the name given to the yellow to orange to brownish orange
color range in quartz. Sometimes, it is incorrectly called Topaz,
by ignorant or dishonest sellers. But Citrine quartz is citrine
quartz. not topaz. Topaz is a different mineral, and like quartz,
can occur in a number of colors, including colorless. Blue topaz,
especially those colored blue by a combination of irradiation and/or
heat treatment, are very widely marketed. But as you note, the more
valuable varieties of topaz are in the yellow/orange/peach color
range. While the colors commonly found in topaz overlap those seen in
citrine, especially in the plain lighter yellows, they don’t
completely match, since the rich reddish/ browinish deep orange tones
known as the best citrines, isn’t normally a color seen in topaz,
while the peachy or pinkish tones seen in better topaz isn’t seen in
citrine. In addition, topaz is commonly quite visibly dichroic, with
the “C” axis of the cristal (usually the long orientation of the
stone) being commonly a darker, or different, color than the
crosswise directions, so often the colors seen in the ends of the
stone are not the same as seen in the middle, since light going end to
end in the stone shows the C axis color, while that which went across
the stone sees the other axis. quartz, while technically also
dichroic, is not at all as strongly so, and never that dramatic about
it. The term precious, as applied to topaz, has variously been used
just to describe the whole yellow/orange/peach color range, or has
been used to describe the most desireable colors within that range,
but even then, just what’s the most desireable color in that range
varies some according to who’s defining it. As with other uses of the
word precious as applied to gems, It often is more confusing than
helpful. But many folks generally figure the term applies to the
richer golden yellow stones where the C axis direction gives the ends
of the stones a pinkish or peachy tone to complement the golden
yellow seen in the center of the stone.

Peter Rowe


Hello the List: In response to William Denayer’s question about the
difference(s) between citrine and topaz:

	Refractive Index: 1.619 - 1.627 =B1 .010
	Birefringence: .008
	Double Refractive
	Pleochroism: Trichroic, Strong through Weak
	Specific Gravity: 3.53 +/- .04
	Dispersion: .014
	Phenomena: Fluorescence
	Hardness: 8
	Cleavage: Perfect, basal

	Refractive Index: 1.544-1.553
	Birefringence: .009
	Double Refractive
	Pleochroism: Strongly dichroic
	Specific Gravity: 2.66 +/- .01
	Dispersion: .013
	Phenomena: Asterism, Chatoyancy, Iridescence, Aventurescence
	Hardness: 7
	Cleavage: No

Regards, mskelly in sunny Florida


This is one of the labelling and nomenclature problems that bestets
gemology. In general topaz should be called topaz and citrine
should be called citrine - the principle is that the chemical
composition determines the name. Most reputable vendors now adhere
to this, and in many countries it is enshrined in law. But labelling
and sales practises have often caused citrines to be labelled as some
form of topaz. You can’t be sure that any particular prefix, such as
’golden’ or ‘precious’, ensures a specific identity. In the past the
term ‘golden topaz’ has often been applied to citrine, and the term
’precious topaz’ has often been applied to topaz. Ultimately the only
way to be sure is to test it or have it tested, or buy from an
accredited source


On the topaz misnomers… The other one you’ll run across often is
"Smoky Topaz"…(or Smokey Topaz) Which, of course, is inevitably
smoky quartz…(or smokey quartz) Which when darker is also known as
"cairgorm" or “morion”…

Gary W. Bourbonais

 It's also my understanding that citrine is actually closely
related to amethyst (which is related to quartz), 

Not “related to”, but rather “are”. quartz is the mineral itself.
Both amethyst and citrine ARE quartz. The names merely denote the
color varieties.

   and much of the inexpensive citrine on the market is amethyst
that has been heat-treated to change its color. 

Probably true, to an extent, though also a good deal will have
started as a somewhat paler grade of citrine, where additional heat
treating improved the color.

The "true" citrine is more expensive and more clear in color. 

Well, maybe, or maybe not. Citrine that came out of the ground that
color might just as likely have gotton that way through natural heat

There’s no practical way to test whether a given citrine started as
amethyst and was treated to citrine, or whether it came out of the
ground as citrine, though specialized lab testing might determine if
the chemistry of given citrine is consistant with it’s possibly
having been an amethyst at one time, there’s no real way to be
absolutely sure of when or how heating occured, making it sort of a
moot point.

Even if the chemistry of the stone’s impurities are such as to prove
that it must have always been citrine colored, there’s still no real
way to tell if additional heating was done or not, or when/how that
heating occured…

Pricing on citrine is based on current color. Even the best is
reasonably enough priced that few dealers pay much attention to
worrying about whether a given stone is untreated or not. Most folks
just assume it all is, a safe enough bet.

This approach, of course, is NOT the case in most more costly gems,
especially those where the distinction between treated an untreated
is more easily tested.

Peter Rowe


Along the same line as these stones being given misleading names …
at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century yellow sapphires were
being set in items of jewellery and being marketed as Topaz cos at
that time the only colour of sapphires that were of interest and
value were the blues. In some of the tin mining areas in the slag or
refuse heaps the other colours can be found - green, parti, white,
yellow etc …



All, In the past year I have been doing some research with rough
gemstone suppliers about gemstone treatments. One question I have
been asking them is about natural citrine. I have been told by
several dealers that there is a large deposit of natural citrine in
Africa near Namibia and that there are several deposits of natural
citrine in Brazil. So far I have heard of not one natural deposit in
Mexico where the Madeira Citrine is supposedly found. Odd tho, not
one of these suppliers would give me an exact location of the mines
which leads me with a suspicious attitude. As for natural citrine
versus heat treated and the cost - I sell them both for the same.
But, if I can guarantee that the citrine is natural it sells a whole
lot faster.

On topaz - I am sure that you all know that topaz has been treated
with radiation for many years. Low levels of radiation is all that
is needed to alter the color of topaz. Powerful reactor radiation is
not needed. Radiation causes topaz to change to yellow, brown, black,
reddish, and golden colors. I know several gemstone treaters that
have for many years radiated the Mexican Guillero Topaz to the above
colors. About 50% of what they radiate will fade in color in less
than one month to a near colorless stone. The other 50% is color
safe and marketed as Imperial Topaz. Heat treatment is necessary
after the radiation to change the topaz to blue.

In order to confidently identify treatment of gemstones one must
continually stay on top of the newest detection processes by the
gemstone laboratories and continually educate yourself by studying
Any more trusting your suppliers is a fools game. Make
sure that every stone you purchase has full disclosure, a written
guarantee, and a receipt signed by the seller and yourself. Make
sure the receipt is number, dated, and fully describes the stone
purchased, and where it was purchased. Then be prepared to go to
court if the stone turns out to be misrepresented and the dealer will
not honor the guarantee.

Gerry Galarneau