When a woman wears a fine gemstone ring, she wants it to make a statement. Diamonds, emeralds and rubies are among the stones which certainly make an immediate impression when placed into a beautiful setting. A high-quality morganite ring, particularly one with a large stone, can have the same effect – even if morganite jewelry isn’t as popular or well-known as the more “famous” gemstones. And when the stone is set with diamonds or other precious stones in a morganite engagement ring, you have a treasure which will attract attention, grow in value, and even become a family heirloom.
Since chances are good that you know very little about morganite, here’s a primer on this beautiful and versatile stone.
What is Morganite, Anyway?
Morganite has been around for millions of years, but when it was first used to create jewelry in quantity it was simply known as “pink beryl” for obvious reasons – it’s a member of the beryl family and is usually pink in color. It wasn’t until a few years later, in 1911, that the stone was officially accepted in the gemological world as a gemstone distinct from other beryls, on the suggestion of an important New York gemologist. The stone was named morganite to honor the famed banker John Pierpont Morgan, who was also a noted gem collector.
Beryls are known for having various elements included in their base beryllium aluminum silicate; various elements give beryls like aquamarine and emerald their distinctive and well-known colors. When manganese is in a beryl it changes the ordinary, colorless gem into a pink morganite, with the amount and distribution of manganese determining the hue and intensity of the stone’s color. Morganite appears in a variety of feminine shades, from a true pink to shades leaning more toward violet, lilac or even slightly orange; however, all colors of morganite jewelry are decidedly light and feminine. Many credit the stone with generating feelings of happiness and optimism, tenderness, charm and even love, because of its light and cheerful color and appearance. In fact, those who practice gemstone therapy use morganite to induce feelings of calm and relaxation.
The first major sources of the stone for production of jewelry were California (where it was first discovered) and Madagascar. Today, the gemstone is popularly used for creating morganite engagement rings (with or without other precious stones) and comes primarily from Minas Gerais, Brazil; there are also small deposits which are mined in countries like Namibia and Mozambique in Africa, Russia and Afghanistan in Asia, America – and Madagascar, where the original magenta-colored deposit supplied the world’s finest morganite until recently, when the mine was at least temporarily closed because it was no longer economically viable to operate. Quite a bit was mined before the closure, though, so there’s still a good supply of this high-quality stone available.
Morganite is perhaps the rarest of the beryls and is usually found in large crystals as big as 20 pounds. Despite its rarity, however, it’s not difficult to find morganite stones on the market at relatively attractive prices, because the small supply of the gemstone has kept jewelry manufacturers from marketing morganite rings widely, in contrast to the widely-available beryls emerald and aquamarine. That means that you can definitely own jewelry made from this rare gemstone but you don’t have to break the bank to do it.
There are few stones which can compete with the pink, feminine look of morganite, or its ability to easily blend with almost any color of setting, accompanying gemstones or outfits. Many buyers prefer morganite over pink-colored stones such as rose quartz and pink sapphire, because the former is much more opaque and the latter is considerably more expensive and carries a harsher tone. The most popular metals used for setting morganite are palladium, which gives the stone an almost icy pink appearance, and the best-selling of all, the rose gold used to create rose gold morganite rings, which makes the gemstone appear soft and feminine. Even though the look is delicate, the stone is not; it has excellent durability with a score of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs mineral hardness scale. It requires very little regular care, and may only need to occasionally be buffed and polished to remove scratches which can occur over a long period.
Judging and Buying Morganite
The unique hues of morganite are best observed in large stones, since there’s more of the beautiful but not brilliant color to be visible, and morganite’s color saturation is low. For that reason, it’s preferable to buy or use stones measuring at least two carats in order to prevent color washout and properly display the distinctive pink color highly valued for a morganite engagement ring or earrings. You’ll often find the gemstone sold in much larger sizes, as high as five carats for rings and even bigger for jewelry like elongated drop earrings.
A major controversy in the gem world involves radiation or heat treatment of morganite. Experts believe that almost all of the stones being sold at retail today have been treated to permanently increase the intensity of their color (removing any orange or yellow hues) because intensely pink stones can bring as much as $800 per carat, while the price of stones which are less vibrant in color, or are more peach-toned than pink, is in the $300 per carat range (and poorly-colored morganite can easily be found for much less than that). There’s no evidence that radiation harms the stone in any way and some vendors claim it actually enhances the stability of the gemstone as well as its color. The controversy centers around the fact that many treated stones are sold as untreated and naturally vibrant – and there’s no test available to determine whether a gemstone has been treated with radiation or heat, nor is there a law requiring disclosure. In reality, the price of an untreated stone should be about 20% higher than one which has been irradiated, but most customers prefer the more attractive color of treated morganite. And it’s usually safe to assume that any morganite you purchase will have been treated, since even high-end dealers say they have very few untreated pieces of morganite in their collections.
We’ve already alluded to the fact that color is a large determinant of morganite’s cost; in fact, it’s the primary factor of the “4 C’s” applying to this gemstone. Topping the list of desirable morganite is the extremely rare, magenta-colored stone which originally came from Madagascar. However, that’s so difficult to find that in real-world terms, the most expensive category of the gem is the vibrant, pink-hued stone associated with morganite in most people’s minds. Other colors ranging from violet-pink to peach and even salmon, are less costly. Two other important factors in pricing morganite, though, are the color intensity and saturation displayed by the stone, because the gemstone is naturally pale. The more that morganite is able to show its color, as measured by intensity and color saturation, the more it is worth.
As with most stones, cut is extremely important in valuing morganite. It’s more important than with other gemstones, though, because the cut determines how well the often-light color of the stone is displayed. A poor cut will not bring out the subtle yet beautiful tones of a quality morganite, while an expert, custom cut intended to highlight the pink color of the gemstone will vastly increase its value. Many of the morganites available on the market for a very low cost are priced so low because they’re not cut in a way to enhance their color. This gemstone can be cut in all of the traditional sizes and shapes and is a favorite of designers for custom cuts; a morganite jewelry creation almost always wins one of the annual “cutting edge” awards given by the American Gem Trade Association.
“Carats” is the third “C” in determining the value of morganite. It’s not as important as it is in valuing gemstones like diamonds because morganite is usually cut and available in large sizes better able to display beautiful color. Stones in multiple-carat sizes are easy to find and priced affordably, and their prices don’t rise dramatically once they weigh more than one carat. In fact, high-quality, well-colored smaller stones are often worth as much or even more than comparable large stones, because the small ones are somewhat uncommon.
Finally, clarity is important but not usually a crucial factor in determining the comparative value of most morganites, because eye-visible inclusions are relatively rare.
Rings and Other Popular Pieces
It’s still unusual to see a morganite engagement ring at a party or on the street, but the stone is starting to gain popularity in the design of rings. There are several reasons why: it’s a very attractive and ladylike stone, its color is enhanced by many of today’s most favored settings, its unusual yet beautiful appearance will draw attention, and it matches or compliments other gems extremely well and will enhance almost any outfit or look – as one design expert says, because of morganite’s natural color which will match just about anything, “it can be worn all day, every day”. Finally, there’s the most important reason of all for many purchasers: it’s a lot less costly than a diamond ring, yet can look extremely impressive when set with small diamonds.
Perhaps the best use of the stone is in a rose gold morganite ring. Rose gold perfectly complements the elegant, soft appearance of the pink stone, and is one of the top setting choices for morganite engagement rings. To highlight the appearance of this ring even more, or to make it feel more like a traditional engagement ring, many brides opt to add small side or halo diamonds. For those in search of meaning as well as beauty, a rose gold morganite ring is an outstanding choice since rose gold is considered to be the most romantic metal because of its red/pink color, while morganite is often said to be able to ensure true love for those who wear it.
Other popular settings for a morganite engagement ring are palladium, platinum or white gold, which give the stone and ring more of an icy appearance but still match well with the muted tone of morganite. Silver is another good companion for the gemstone, although of course less favored as a setting for an engagement ring and perhaps better suited to a less sentimental, everyday piece.
Morganite rings from engagement rings to eternity bands are the most common forms of jewelry which showcase this stone, but it is suitable for all types of pieces from tennis bracelets to stunning bangles, necklaces and pendants. Pendants are one of the most striking morganite jewelry pieces you can wear, because the use of large, well-cut morganites will produce the most vibrant pink color imaginable in a gemstone. When the stone is set off or enhanced with small diamonds, a morganite pendant will be the star attraction at any dinner party or get-together.
Another perfect use for morganite is in earrings, particularly drop earrings which can take advantage of large stones and perfect cuts to practically glow pink. Studs featuring morganites are very easy to find as well.
Avoiding Fake Morganite
Morganite buyers don’t experience the same wealth of synthetic or fake gemstones which plague many other markets, primarily because morganite isn’t as popular as other often-counterfeited stones. However, there are still unscrupulous sellers who will try to pass off imitations, so it pays to be aware of the possible dangers.
A few companies manufacture synthetic pink beryl which can be sold as morganite. More commonly you might find colored glass, or occasionally the more opaque rose quartz, marketed as real morganite. There have been cases where purchasers have mistakenly been sold pink-colored kunzite instead of morganite, but those are usually “honest” mistakes because kunzite is more expensive than morganite except at the very highest quality levels.
There’s no easy consumer test to tell if what you’re looking at is true morganite, so if you’re spending a decent amount of money it always pays to have an appraisal of the stone done (preferably performed by GIA or AGL) before purchasing it.