Amber vs Citrine: What Are They, And What’s The Difference?

This article will give you an in depth look at Amber and Citrine, what they look like, where they originated and what their used for.

Amber vs Citrine: EXPLAINED


Amber is a unique preservative, conserving otherwise unfossilizable organisms; because of this, it is helpful in reconstructing ecosystems.

Based solely on how it is formed, amber is perhaps one of the most interesting gemstones.

Citrine, on the other hand, represents November’s birthstone and, from light straw and lemon to earthy brown colors, citrine reflects a stunning ray of autumn sunshine.

Intrigued about these particular gemstones?

Continue reading to find out more!

Amber Facts

The unique development of resin due to molecular polymerization which results from high temperatures and pressures produced by sediment in living trees may result in the formation of copal.

Then, the heat and pressure push off terpenes and form amber.

For this formation to happen, the resin must resist decay and not become broken down by biological or physical processes.

Many trees produce resin, but exposure to sun, rain, bacteria, fungi, and extreme temperatures can disintegrate it.

The copal must be resistant to these forces or be produced under conditions that exclude them to survive long enough to become amber.

Although some may find the appearance of fossilized bugs interesting, impurities are often present, especially when the resin drops on the ground.

The most highly prized amber is transparent.

Evergreen trees produce the hard fossil resin of yellow amber, and despite its name, it can be yellow, translucent, orange, or brown in color.

Other than the commonly associated yellow-orange-brown amber, the organic gem can occur in a range of different colors.

Rare colors include red (or cherry amber), green, and blue amber, found in the Dominican Republic, which are very uncommon and highly sought after.

The oldest amber recovered dates back 320 million years ago, in the Carboniferous period.

Based on its chemical composition, it is most like the resins produced by flowering plants, although we have no record of flowering plants existing during that period.

The oldest amber with a significant number of arthropod inclusions comes from Jurassic times in Lebanon.

In this amber, many remarkable insects and arachnids were recently discovered, such as the oldest known species of zorapterans, beetles, roaches, and planthoppers.

In 1938, 12-year-old David Attenborough was gifted a piece of amber containing prehistoric creatures.

This preservation of prehistoric organisms in David’s amber forms a key plot point in the 1990’s novel and movie Jurassic Park, in which David’s brother, Richard, stars.

In the story, scientists use prehistoric mosquitoes trapped in amber to extract their preserved DNA, from which they genetically clone living dinosaurs.

Although amber is found all over the worl, since the 12th century, the west coast of Prussia has been the world’s leader of sourcing famous Baltic amber.

Around 90% of the world’s extractable amber is still located around the Baltic Sea.

Fossil resins fall into two distinctive categories, Baltic amber and another that resembles the Agathis group.

In Baltic amber, pieces of coastal gem are ripped from the seafloor, cast up by the waves and gathered by hand, dredging, and diving.

Necessary erosion removes nodules of blue earth and an opaque crust from sea-worn amber.

Yellow amber, found along the shores of the Baltic Sea, is globally distributed, reaching the Middle East and Europe via trade routes.

Elsewhere, agathis amber is mainly found in rocks of Cretaceous age or younger.

Agathis amber is collected via mining in open and underground galleries.

Agathis’s crust must be removed by erosion simulation using revolving barrels containing sand and water.

Citrine Facts

Citrine is a member of the quartz family (not to be confused with yellow quartz) and probably the most popular yellow gemstone.

As its color might suggest, citrine takes its name from the Latin ‘citrus’ and the French ‘citron’, simply meaning lemon.

As with nearly all gemstones, the clearer the stone, the higher the value.

Furthermore, the peak value color of citrine is the deep red-orange tones referred to as Fire Citrine.

Citrine is made up of two of the most common elements on earth, silicon and oxygen.

It is found in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary volcanic rocks.

The yellow crystal is formed by bubbles being trapped inside the rock, and when the outer rock hardens it leaves a circular empty space inside.

Over millions of years, the hollow is filled by liquid silicon dioxide and elements of iron that crystallize into geodes that can be found all over the world.

These geodes can range in size from only centimeters in diameter to one big enough for multiple people to climb inside.

The largest Citrine geode was discovered in Brazil, weighing in at 2258 carats, and is on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.

Citrine was first discovered around 200 BC, and was used on the handles of swords and daggers in Scotland.

Although thought to be added for decorative purposes, the stone was also considered as metaphysical protection.

Today, the most plentiful sources of natural citrine are found in Brazil, Madagascar, Bolivia, Mexico, Spain and Uruguay.

Similarities and Differences Between Citrine and Amber

Similarly to Citrine, amber’s most popular use is for decorative objects.

Most amber has a hardness of about 2.0 on the Mohs scale, while citrine’s hardness is at 7.

Because amber is so soft, it can be easily cut and polished, and it can be transformed into beautiful jewelry.

Amber has been used as jewelry from 13,000 years ago, since the Stone Age.

Moreover, unlike citrine, amber can be burned as an incense and potpourri.

Amber’s melting point is 250–300 °C.

If heated under the right conditions, oil of amber is produced with notes of warm vanilla and pine.

During large festivities in ancient China, it was tradition to burn amber.

How the two can be confused

Amber and citrine can sometimes appear very similar in color, but if educated on each stone, it is clear each is unique in its color, composition as well as history.

Furthermore, the unique internal flakes of amber bear no comparison to its beautiful Citrine birthstone peer.

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amber vs citrine