Discovered in 1910, morganite is a relatively new addition to the ranks of precious gems you’re likely to find offered at a jewelry store. Like other recently discovered stones, morganite’s qualities are less well known than that of popular gems like opals, rubies, or topaz. However, it is only a matter of time before morganite’s reputation as a lovely and durable stone grows.
Morganite is a rare pink variety of the mineral beryl, the same mineral as emerald and aquamarine. It was originally called “pink beryl,” but George F. Kunz, a gemologist and buyer for Tiffany & Co., renamed it “morganite” in 1911 in honor of J. Pierpont Morgan, the famous American banker, who was also a noted gemstone collector. Today the principal source of morganite is Brazil, although deposits have also been found in Afghanistan, China, Mozambique, Namibia, Russia, Zimbabwe, California, and Maine. Some of the finest morganite comes from Madagascar, one of the first places it was discovered.
Morganite is distinguished by its color, which can range from pale pink to light salmon. Gemologists believe that its color comes from trace amounts of cesium or manganese in its makeup. Most morganites are very pale; the strongest colors are exhibited in larger stones. The stone has a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, like other beryls, which makes it durable enough to use in all kinds of jewelry. (There’s even a growing trend to use a morganite center stone in engagement rings as an alternative to diamonds, although if you are particularly hard on your hands you may want to consider if it is tough enough for daily wear.)
Unlike emerald, morganite tends to have few eye-visible inclusions. Morganite crystals can also grow quite large, which makes it is easier to cut large faceted stones. The pink and rose varieties of morganite have tended to be more popular than those with a more salmon or peach tint. Morganites may be heat-treated to reduce any orange or yellow tinge. This treatment is undetectable and permanent, resulting in a stable color that will not fade.
When you are judging a morganite for quality, color is the most important factor. Larger sizes tend to show deeper color, and thus are likely to be more valuable than smaller, paler stones. Morganite displays pleochroism, meaning that the shade can vary depending on the angle from which it is viewed, so it is important that the cut of the stone be oriented correctly to enhance the brilliance and hue. The presence of large or numerous inclusions can reduce morganite’s value; morganites with many inclusions may be cut as cabochons or carved into fancy designer cuts.
While morganite is relatively affordable at the moment, it is likely that prices for this rare stone will rise as its qualities become better known. Auction King offers beautiful examples of morganite rings, pendants, and loose stones at the best possible value for its bidders, with starting bids as low as $1. Sign up for a free online account today and discover the opportunities in store.