Citrine is one of the official birthstones of November, and the sunny yellow stone you’re looking at is the world’s largest faceted citrine — an oval-cut marvel at 20,200 carats (that’s 8.8 pounds!). Named for its host city, the “Malaga” was added in June of 2010 to the “Special Exhibition Gems” section of Art Natura in Spain, a natural science museum featuring one of the world’s most extensive collections of colored gemstones.
“Malaga,” which measures 20 x 15 x 10 centimeters (7.87 x 5.90 x 3.93 inches), is considered nearly flawless and will take its permanent place in the exhibit alongside other extraordinary gems, such as the 31,000-carat imperial topaz, “Eldorado.” Topaz happens to be the other November birthstone.
The previous record holder for the largest faceted citrine is also in the Art Natura collection. It’s the “Sol del Sur” (Southern Sun), an extraordinary 8,200-carat, oval-cut stone. Another sizable citrine in the collection is “Soledade” (Solitude), an emerald-cut stone weighing 6,705 carats.
Besides its exceptional color, transparency and purity, what makes the “Malaga” so extraordinary is its enormous size. Rarely does nature present a citrine crystal that could yield such a large faceted stone. Typically, citrine crystals are found in geodes and measure just a few centimeters in size. When they are found in larger formations, the quality is usually lacking and these specimens are used as decorative items.
The mammoth rough citrine crystal that would become the “Malaga” was unearthed in Mina Gerais, Brazil, in 1990. Due to the risks, complexity and special equipment required to cut and polish the stone, it remained in its original form for 19 years. Finally, in 2009, a team of Brazilian gem cutters took on the formidable challenge of shaping the stone — with startling beautiful results.
Art Natura boasts one of the world’s largest collections of noteworthy gemstones. In all, the collection comprises more than 500,000 carats. The “Special Exhibition Gems” section, which now includes the “Malaga,” features 24 gemstones that are world-class in terms of size, purity and color.
A member of the quartz family of gemstones, the sun-kissed citrine is a near-cousin to February’s purple birthstone, the amethyst. Citrine takes its name from citron, the French word for lemon, and can range in color from the warm hues of golden champagne to the deep oranges of Madeira wine. The stone perfectly represents the fall season. Most citrine comes from Brazil, but other important sources include Madagascar, Bolivia and the United States.
Citrine wasn’t always an official birthstone for November. The National Association of Jewelers added it in 1952 as an alternative to topaz.