JewelStruck Blog

GEMS November – The history behind citrine !

by JewelStruck on Nov.19, 2009, under GEMS

The history behind citrine is the next thing we would love to discuss in a Gemstone Each Month Series (GEMS) for november.

From the childhood times, I always had fascination with the history behind everything.  I wanted to know how it came into existence, how it became famous, who discovered and so many questions… For citrine I had similar things coming to my mind, and as a result I did some research on it. There are very few references in history of citrine, maybe because of the stone’s relative rarity, especially in the ancient world. Here I’m listing below a few historical references of citrine… who used it? when was it most used.. etc etc..

Historical references of citrine

  • The tenth stone? – Some Biblical scholars believe that citrine was the 10th of 12 stones in Aaron’s breastplate described in the book of Exodus. The stone was referred to as chrysolitus (Greek for “golden stone”) in both Roman Catholic and Latin versions of the Old Testament, leading to some confusion over whether it was citrine, topaz, or beryl.
  • Greece’s Hellenistic Age – In ancient Greece, citrine first gained popularity as a decorative gem during the Hellenistic Age, roughly between 300 and 150 B.C.
  • Intaglio (relief carving) – Romans were among the first to make the use of citrine as carved intaglio and cabochon in the first centuries after the birth of Christ.  Intaglio is cutting or engraving – a figure cut into something, as a gem, so as to make a design depressed below the surface of the material.

Intaglio - Carved Ring

Intaglio - Carved Ring

  • Naphtali tribe – Citrine is also associated with Naphtali tribe of Israel.
  • To adorn weapons – In the 17th century, Scottish weapon makers used citrine to adorn dagger handles, sometimes even using a single large citrine crystal as the handle itself.
  • Romantic citrine – During 1837-1860, citrine became more available and was increasingly used in jewelry. Queen Victoria and her love for scottish things, helped citrine jewelry with romantically scottish settings to be in trend.

Image credit antique rings,


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