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Marvelous Morganite

Updated: Apr 16, 2019

Marvelous MorganiteThursday, February 21 2019


Morganite is a gorgeous pale pink to peachy pink beryl, a cousin of emerald and aquamarine.  Unlike emerald, morganite is relatively inclusion-free which adds to its allure.  For many years morganite slipped out of prominence and had little or no promotion. 

Thankfully that time has passed.  Its delicate shade has come back into style impacting fine jewelry as customers choose it as a larger center stone for their rings.

When and where?

In 1910, prospectors on Madagascar discovered a mesmerizing pink stone that, like many other new gemstones, found its way to George Kunz, Tiffany’s much celebrated gemstone expert and champion of little known gems.  Identified as a member of the beryl family, Kunz suggested the name Morganite at the December 5th, 1910 meeting of the New York Academy of Sciences where it was offically adopted.  Why would he suggest that name?

What’s in a name?

John Pierpont Morgan was the famed financier of the Gilded Age,  Tiffany’s top patron, and, most importantly, an ardent gemstone collector. Kunz had assembled two outstanding collections for Morgan — both given to American Museum of Natural History.  The Tiffany-Morgan Collection includes 2,176 very fine gemstone specimens and 2,442 fine pearls.  Morgan didn’t stop there.  He paid $100,000 to purchase the famous 12,300-specimen collection from Philadelphia industrialist Clarence S. Bement.  It filled two rail boxcars and shipped straight to the museum where it remains today.  Morgan’s passion for gemstones and contributions to the AMNH, earned him the distinction of having the stone named after him.  Morganite proved to be a very rare privilege.

Pala, California

Pala is a town near San Diego famous for its gem discoveries.  These include multiple colors of fine tourmaline, spodumene (later named Kunzite after you know who), garnets, and topaz.  In 1902 or 1903, pink beryl was discovered in a stone matrix that included tourmaline and other stones.  What’s interesting is that Kunz was very familiar with these discoveries, no doubt visited the area’s many mines, and wrote precisely and extensively about all the finds.  Yet in his descriptions, he mentions beryl only in passing and doesn’t specify its color.  From research, I suspect the beryl lacked the intense color Kunz saw when he received the Madagascar gems.  And in the world of gems, color can create the difference between ordinary and extraordinary.

Back to Madagascar

Most unfortunately, Madagascar’s original morganite reserve was tapped out within 10 years.  And though morganite is mined there and in other countries —Brazil, Mozambique, Namibia, the U.S., Russia, and more — the truly fine color of Madagascar’s first reserve has so far eluded the most determined prospectors and mining companies.  Is it out there waiting for us somewhere?  Only time will tell.  Meanwhile to see one in person, your best bet would be to visit Morgan Hall of Mineralogy at the American Museum of Natural History.

Color Talk

Today most morganites range from a very pale pink or to a peachy pink color and it is so pale much of it is heat-treated to enhance the color. In the realm of a pale stone, a bigger stone typically has better color.  Consider the Caribbean water.  Where it meets the beach it lacks that lush tropical blue. Yet as the water deepens, the gorgeous color emerges.  What’s the moral of this story?  In my opinion a bigger morganite is always better.  

Did Kunz “discover” Morganite?

Though the famed gemologist did not actually take morganite from the earth, you could argue that he discovered it in much the same way Hollywood stars are “discovered” — someone identifies and develops their potential.  Kunz identified pink beryl — and many other lesser known gems — as a valuable stone of great beauty and set about to make it a star in Tiffany’s creations.  This guaranteed it a coveted status with Tiffany’s wealthy patrons and a memorable name.

“The Rose of Maine”

In the fall of 1989, one of the largest morganite specimens was discovered in Buckfield, Maine.  It measured approximately 12” by 9” and weighed in at a hefty 50lbs.  That’s about 115,000 carats.  On discovery, it appeared dark orange but on exposure to sunlight it turned pink. Sadly,  the two brothers who found it could not agree on its future and one of them split it.  Since then a number faceted beauties have emerged from “The Rose of Maine.”  They are highly coveted and hard to find.

To heat or not to heat?

A great deal of morganite for sale has been heat-treated.  Straight from the mine, most morganite is either a very pale pink or a pale peach with yellow tones.  Some women like the natural peach color but many prefer the pink.  Heating removes the yellow tones to produce a pinker stone and it intensifies the pale pink into a more vibrant pink though still pale. 

Powered by Morganite

It is said we can summon Morganite’s power by looking to our hearts.   That wearing or possessing morganite promotes heart health by reducing stress and stimulating calm.  It is also said to nurture our emotional “heart” — our ability to give and receive love — by helping to release hurt feelings, resentments and fears,  and that it energizes our positive inclinations, bringing wisdom and purpose.

(I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s not just women who should wear morganite.  We also need to create morganite jewelry for men.)

Is that enough power for you?   There’s more.  Its been said that its color “energy” relates to caring, commitment, and calm.  Couldn’t we all use a little more of that?   That may or may not be true for me, as I’ve been known to care too much and to over commit myself.   On the other hand I really do need calm in my life.   I think a large oval or cushion morganite set in rose gold would look gorgeous on my finger even if it doesn't help with those things.  So even if you don't believe in the power of gemstones, we can all agree Morganite is an absolutley beautiful stone.

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