Jewellery has always been highly sought after, and even when expensive diamonds and precious metals were too costly, cheaper materials were used to replicate the more expensive look. One stone used as a replacement for diamonds was Citrine, a much more common stone, and therefore far cheaper.
Citrine is one of the many types of quartz, and gains its name as its yellow colour is very reminiscent of lemons. Citrine can be found naturally in many mines around the world, although not in huge volumes, and is caused due to iron being present as the quartz is formed. The scarcity of Citrine though would normally increase the price of the stone, putting it on par with real topaz, without the quality. Its popularity though was ensured by the early discovery, some time in the eighteenth century, that Citrine could be made by extensively heating the more common amethysts and smoky quartz. This ensured that an almost inexhaustible yellow stone was now available for cheap jewellery pieces, a yellow stone that even experts sometimes struggle to differentiate from the more expensive yellow topaz.
Despite being almost indistinguishable from yellow topaz to the naked eye, people though recognised that it was an inferior product, it is after all not as hard or as vibrant as the more expensive stone. This inferiority ensured that Citrine started to be called by other names to hide its true nature, and so pieces of jewellery may often state that they contain gold topaz or Madeira topaz, although of course no topaz is present in the settings.
In addition to being cheap, Citrine does have benefits in using it. Citrine as quartz, is relatively hard, and will not be damaged by minor knocks or scratches. The mellow colour though can be damaged from extended periods of exposure to direct sunlight, something that is much more likely to happen if compared to more expensive yellow gemstones. Citrine though doesn't just after to be a rich yellow, despite its name, and can range up to a brownish red, and so offers a variety that is not present in real topaz.
It is perhaps apt that as a substitute for topaz, Citrine is also considered to be a birthstone of November, just as topaz is.
For those people that cannot afford yellow diamonds or topaz, than Citrine is a good compromise offering decent colouring at a reasonable price, just right for inexpensive jewellery pieces.