Citrine is a variety of quartz, one of the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Quartz is one of the most widely used of all gem minerals because of its natural abundance and variety. Iron impurities in the original quartz produce the colour of citrine. Natural yellow citrine is comparatively rare. Artificially coloured citrine can be created by heating amethyst, sometimes then known as 'burnt amethyst'.
This ring forms part of a collection of 154 gems bequeathed to the V&A by the Reverend Chauncy Hare Townshend, a cleric and poet. Sir A. H. Church gave additional specimens in 1913. He also compiled the first catalogue Precious Stones: A Guide to the Townshend Collection. The first edition appeared in 1883. The stones are mounted as rings, although they may not have been intended to be worn.
Some of these, including this citrine, were originally owned by Henry Philip Hope, a brother of the novelist and antiquary Thomas Hope. H. P. Hope formed a famous collection of diamonds and precious stones which was largely inherited by his three nephews. His collection included the Hope blue diamond, now in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington.