Citrine VS Yellow Sapphire – 4 Ways They’re Different & How To Choose

Citrine and yellow sapphire are two prominent members of the yellow gemstone family. They are both beautiful and radiate warmth, positivity, and abundance. So if you ever find yourself wondering which would work best for your jewelry or your situation, wonder no more. Today we’re comparing citrine to yellow sapphire, and this way you’ll have a better idea of which would suit you best.

citrine vs yellow sapphire

Citrine vs yellow sapphire

Citrine is more affordable than yellow sapphire, but will scratch and chip far easier than yellow sapphire. There is a color difference as well, with citrine offering warmer honey-yellow color and yellow sapphire offering canary yellow. Citrines tend to be eye-clean and thus clearer than most yellow sapphires, and this is very important for larger gems or step-cut ones.

What is citrine ?

Citrine is a type of quartz, in the same family as smoky quartz, amethyst, rutlilated quartz, and rose quartz. Citrine owes its warm yellow-orange hue to trace elements of iron, which is why the orange hues sometimes tend towards brown (imagine the color of rust).

As a type of quartz, citrine is abundant, easy to find, and very easy to replace if need be.

What is yellow sapphire ?

Yellow sapphire is a variety of corundum that is not blue, but instead yellow due to a iron presence. This iron presence tends to give a colder hue of yellow, sometimes taking on a slight green cast if titanium is also present. Of all the colors a sapphire could have, yellow is almost as common as blue, but far less expensive.

Read also: Blue Topaz VS Aquamarine 

1. Yellow sapphire is a harder, more durable gem than citrine

Yellow sapphire is a much harder gemstone than citrine. Yellow sapphire scored a 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness, while citrine scores a 7. For comparison, diamonds are a 10. All gems above 7 are considered fit for daily wear, but they still need extra care to not scratch as easily.

A gemstone’s hardness is a key point when deciding which to mount in jewelry. Its hardness dictates how it will stand up to wear and tear, and how quickly or easily it will accumulate scratches or chip. The harder the gemstone, the higher the chances it will look just as bright and beautiful in the following decades.

So a yellow sapphire will hold up much better in time than a citrine. This is especially important if you’re looking at engagement rings, or simply any piece of jewelry that is going to be worn every single day. If your heart is set on citrine, make sure to not wear the gem when doing housework, washing dishes, cleaning, gardening, woodworking, or anything that might scratch the gem. Or, only wear it for special occasions.

Here’s an example of a yellow sapphire necklace off Amazon. 

The pendant has a round-cut yellow sapphire as its center stone, with small white diamonds around it, and a single white diamond atop the pendant. The metal for the pendant and necklace are 18k yellow gold. A simple, elegant pendant that is sure to impress through elegance.

2. Citrine is a more affordable gemstone than yellow sapphire

While citrine does scratch far easier than yellow sapphire, it’s very easy to replace as it’s a very affordable gemstone. Loose citrines usually sell for about $8 per carat, while yellow sapphires sell for $55-80 per carat. As with any colored gemstone, better color yields a higher price, and the less inclusions there are, the higher the price.

This does not make yellow sapphire a vastly expensive gem, but compared to citrine it does raise the total price of jewelry. And if you’re someone who cares for birthstones, you’re in luck because citrine is one of November’s birthstones, along with yellow topaz. So if you want something for your birth month, or your favorite month in general, citrine will definitely not break the bank.

Take a look at this citrine necklace off Amazon.

The pendant is a cushion-cut citrine, prong-set in sterling silver. The pendant is very simple, as it only had the citrine on display. It comes with an 18 inch box chain, also sterling silver. This is a very simple, elegant look and perfect if you always want your November birthstone with you but safe from scratches. Pendants accumulate far less scratches than rings.

3. Yellow sapphire has lighter, brighter colors than citrine

Both citrine and yellow sapphire owe their yellow color to trace amounts of iron, but they do it a little differently so their resulting colors are a little different.

For example citrine’s color range is on the warmer side. It can go from very pale yellow to bright yellow to amber/honey and even cross into light brown in some cases. The overall tone of citrine is a warm one, even the paler ones are a bit warm.

Yellow sapphire has neutral to color yellow colors. It goes from very pale yellow to bright canary yellow, and can sometimes take on a greenish cast. This results in a different color range, and the overall tone is neutral, if not cold.

So depending on what specific colors you’re looking for, either citrine or yellow sapphire could be a better option for you.

Both citrine and yellow sapphire undergo heat treatment to improve their color

Wondering which one ahs a natural color ? The truth is both citrine and yellow sapphires are treated for better color. Citrine is very rare in nature, and especially in colors so bright. Instead the citrine you see on the market is the result of smoky quartz or pale amethysts that have been heat and radiation treated.

Yellow sapphires are also treated to improve an already existing color. So a yellow sapphire that is a very pale yellow may be heated to bring out the yellow more.

So neither gem is truly natural, in that the color is altered in some way. Whether this is a problem or not is up to you.

4. Citrine tends to be eye-clean, yellow sapphire is often included

Citrine is a type of quartz that tends to be eye-clean, while yellow sapphire is comparatively included. However if you compare yellow sapphire to other sapphires – blue, pink, padparadscha – you notice that the yellow sapphire is far less included.

Still, in a gem that will have a step-cut such as emerald or baguette, any inclusion will be easily seen. So if you really want a clear gem, citrine is the way to go. Yellow sapphire will not be cloudy, but it has a higher chance of displaying inclusions.

Can you wear citrine instead of yellow sapphire ?

You can wear citrine instead of yellow sapphire if you don’t mind the tone difference, Where yellow sapphire is a bright, neutral yellow citrine is a bright, warm yellow. To some this does not matter at all and they simply want a yellow gemstone, no matter the overall hue.

If you do replace yellow sapphire with citrine, the overall cost is lower but the gemstone won’t hold up to daily wear as well as a yellow sapphire