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Morganite Gemstones - Fine pink gems


In the early part of the 20th Century, Morganite, and other gemstones, including Aquamarine and Tourmaline, were discovered in Pala, California. The news of the newly discovered gemstones spread like wildfire and it was not long before it reached the ears of the famous and respected gemologist and gem collector from New York, known as George Frederick Kunz. In 1911, while on an expedition to Madagascar, Kunz came across a pink variety of these gemstones and he proposed that it should be called Morganite; this is the pink variety of Beryl. He decided to name it thus, because of his biggest customer and financier, known as J.P Morgan. This is a gemstone that was formed millions of years ago, but it was only recognized on its own merits from this period.

Emerald and Aquamarine belong to the group of gemstones known as Beryl; they get this name from the fact that their chemical composition is classified as beryllium aluminum silicates. Morganite, Emerald and Aquamarine are the most popular of these beryl group. Essentially, pure beryl is colorless but the crystals have a structural makeup that allows them to integrate trace amounts of elements such as manganese, vanadium, chrome and iron, and these are the ones that turn the colorless crystals into colored ones. Any beryl that contains manganese attains a beautiful and enchanting pink color, and it is then called Morganite.

The quality and Value of Morganite s determined by the depth of the color, and not so much on its clarity. When it is mined in the rough, it takes on the color of salmon, and it is very pale, but when it is subjected to heat, the pink color becomes more intense. It is possible to mistake Morganite as being Kunzite, but the distinction can be found in the fact that Kunzite has a bluish tint, hidden in the pink; Morganite has a brownish tint, which can border on orange.

In the world of gemstones, there is a tendency to value these gems on their clarity, where a gem is more valuable as the transparency increases, but when it comes to Morganite, this rule does not really apply. There are women who will prefer a Morganite stone which has inclusions, since this gives it a silky sheen; it all really depends on the personal preference of each buyer. Apart from emerald and aquamarine, Morganite has become one of the most popular gemstones amongst women; they absolutely love the pink tones, which give out an aura of tenderness esprit and charm.

For those who love mythology, Morganite is said to give the wearer the ability to focus on the positive side of life, and thereby avoid stress; it also opens the heart chakra and alleviate pressure. The sight of Morganite is enough to cheer a person up, no matter what the situation may be.

The main deposits of Morganite can be found in Madagascar, California, Afghanistan and Brazil, and the stone has a relatively good hardness value of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, making it great for wearing frequently without risking any damage to the gemstone.

Life in Pink (La vie en rose)

Morganite can be found in several shades of pink, and whereas most of them have a delicate pink hue, there are some which have a lilac or light violet tincture. Mother Nature, in all her wisdom has presented a gemstone that has tints which will fit any type of skin color; some of these stones even have an orange tinge which is suitable for people with a tanned or fair skin alike. As mentioned before, this is a gemstone that brings forth charm, esprit and tenderness, and it is said to be the perfect gift for someone who is undergoing stressful times. This is something that has been put to the test, and you can try it on your own; simply looking at a Morganite gemstone will bring forth a feeling that all will be well. This is why it is said that a person who chooses to buy this gemstone chooses to live life in pink, or La vie en rose, even when all else in life seems dark and grey. In fact, in the practice of gemstone therapy, Morganite is the preferred stone to help people who are undergoing depression and stress; it gives the patient a feeling of joy and wellness and a general feeling of joie de vivre.

The intriguing saga behind the naming of Morganite

When it comes to the naming of new gemstones, in gemology, the standard practice is to name it after the person who discovered it, in the honor of important gemologists and mineralogists who were associated with its search, or the place from where it originated. However, in 1911, the community of gemologists and mineralogists decided to waive this rule, when it came to the naming of a new pink Beryl, which had been discovered on the Island of Madagascar, just of the south-eastern coast of Africa.

At the behest of one of the most notable gemologists and gemstone aficionados, known as George Frederick Kunz, the new stone was named after a banker, known as J.P Morgan; this led to the formation of the name Morganite. One wonders why the bankers name had so much significance in the world of gems; he had made significant contributions of gemstones to the American Museum of Natural History. It is said that he gave the museum a 16,000-piece, Clarence Bementh gemstone collection, which he had bought in 1900 at the price of about $100,000, which can be linearly translated as $2.9 million in the year 2014, but is worth more, when you look at how the price of gemstones appreciates with time.

However, in reality, the naming of this gemstone after Morgan was a secondary reason; the main reason why Kunz decided to make this proposition was the fact that he owed Morgan for failing to honor his generosity 8 years before this find. In other words, one can say that Kunz was trying to settle an IOU with Morgan. Morgan was a tycoon, who used to love buying gemstones, and then he would donate them, when he had stayed with them for a while. He was the best customer at Tiffany’s, one of the world’s leading jewelers at the time, where Kunz, apparently, also worked as the Vice President. Kunz would most times arrange for private buying sessions for Morgan, where he could get the stones directly from the store; at times the store would act as an intermediary, when Morgan had to buy gemstones from another respected dealer.

According to an article that Kunz wrote in 1922, in order to show appreciation to his benefactor, the pink Spodumen that had earlier been discovered in California, and whose variety he had discovered in 1911, in Madagascar, be called Morganite. At that time, Morgan could not be reached, since he had to accept this honor in person, and a respected Chemistry Professor, who usually collaborated with Kunz, when they started the gemological study of the new gemstone, suggested that the stone should be called Kunzite. Therein lies the interesting saga behind the naming of the stone, and that is why it was sometimes referred to as Kunzite.

Lawrence Conklin, is an academician who has followed the life of Kunz, and he says that he does not believe that Kunz made any concerted effort to look for Morgan, or that there was any real resistance to the gemstone being named Kunzite, in 1903. Conklin says that Kunz was a promoter and a very sleek and clever one, and that he wanted the Spodumen to be named after himself, but wanted to seem gregarious in the suggestion that it should be named after Morgan. It is said that this guilt lingered on his conscience for a full 8 years, before he decided to finally suggest, and strongly insist that the Spodumen should be named after Morgan, in 1911.

This is an interesting saga, and one which will never give the real reason behind this naming fiasco. However, the fact that the name was accepted by the gemological and mineralogical world is a testament to the power that Kunz wielded, when it came to naming of gemstones in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The power of Tiffany’s, where Kunz was also the Vice President, is also apparent in the trade names of the two, often-confused, gems. This is company that contributed a lot to the naming of most of the world’s colored gemstones.

A titillating look at the pink parade

Tiffany had already ruled the market share in two other pink gemstone species, namely tourmaline and Spodumen, before the pink beryl entered the market in 1911; the company was now able to give its patrons a wide range of pink-colored gemstones to choose from.

The first spectacular Morganite gemstones, which made the world notice them due to the intense pink color and large sizes were those from Madagascar. Beryl experts Peter G. Read and John Sinkankas, wrote in their book entitled “Beryl: a unique magenta tint that suggests the color of high-quality kunzite”, published in 1986, said that the gemstones were indeed spectacular and sporting. The gemstone had a namesake, namely the Kunzite, and it is only fitting that the most valuable specimens of this gemstone come from Madagascar, and they are the ones which J.P Morgan donated to the American Museum of Natural History.

Today, Madagascar is no longer actively producing Morganite, and the world has to rely on the paler variety of the rose-pink stones, which are mainly supplied by Brazil. It is important that you understand the relevance of the color and size of the stone. Imagine that you have a lighter tone of the blue aquamarine, which is also a sister of the Morganite; this is a stone that should be cut in sizes of 15 to 20 carats in order for the color to be seen. The same case is true for the Morganite, and given the tinge of the color [pink, smaller stones will tend to take on the color of the skin of the wearer. When considering the example of aquamarines, the Madagascar Morganite can be likened to the deep blue aquamarines from Afghanistan, where you do not need large stones for the true colors to be visible.

It is not easy to get Morganite that have a decent color in large sizes. This is one of the reasons why the gemstone is still tolerated in collector’s circles, even when it is a paler version of the Madagascar Morganite, because they know that their choices are severely limited. To mitigate against the pale color of the Brazilian Morganite, collectors require that the stone has to be very brilliant, and the only way to get this is to have the rough stone cut very well. One dealer says that when these Morganites are cut properly, they tend to glow well in low light. The fact that the stone has great hardness also helps cutters to polish it to a high magnificence.

The Brazilian Morganite: From Peach to Pink

Initially, when the Brazilian Morganites first came into the market, most of them had a peach-orange color, which was so attractive that it created its own niche in the market. In actuality, many Morganite aficionados say that there is no collection of this gemstone that can be considered to be complete if it does not have a high-quality peach variety.

However, the Brazilian Morganite is not one that does very well when exposed to long periods of sunlight. If the gemstone is worn every day, or forgotten on a stand, which has direct illumination from the sun, for more than a week, then it will get a pastel pink color which will be permanent. Today, most of the Brazilian Morganite, which have a lovely pink color, have been subjected to heat treatment. Morganites are heat treated in order to bring out the deep color in higher intensities. A Brazilian gem specialist warns that the gemstones should be considered to be for evening wear only, and should be stored in the casing when it is not worn.

This is quite ironic given that most Morganite aficionados would want the pink colored variety as opposed to the pale Brazilian variety. When you consider this irony, it turns out to favor Morganite, when it is compared to Kunzite. Kunzite tends to lose its pink color when it is exposed to long periods of sunlight, and on the other hand, the pink color of Morganites tends to be more permanent. Although this is a great selling point for people willing to keep the permanent pink color of the Madagascar Morganite, for those who would love to keep the Brazilian Morganite in its peach color, exposure to long periods of sunlight should be avoided.

While still discussing the advantages of Morganite over Kunzite, it would be prudent to note that the Kunzite also has a cleavage problem, and it is therefore very brittle. This means that it is better to have a Morganite, rather than a Kunzite, if you want to have a pink gemstone.

However, one cannot out-play the advantaged of Morganite over Kunzite, because the latter also has a lot of appealing characteristics. When it comes to the saturation of the color pink the Kunzite is higher than the Morganite, and when it does come close, the production of Kunzite is higher than that of Morganite. Kunzite has been readily available in most gem stores over many years, whereas the Morganite is deemed to be rare, and only flares up for a few years before the deposit is depleted. The rarity of Morganite makes it more of a curiosity amongst gemstone buyers. It took almost 15 years after the Madagascar Morganite deposits were depleted, before miners found new deposits in Brazil, and even these were quickly diminished. The Madagascar Morganite holds an important place in the history of Morganite, and this cannot be understated.

The Madagascar Morganite: Taking the World by Storm

The most exasperating gemstone in the world, as some experts say, is definitely the Morganite. When it is displayed at a show or museum, in its larger sizes and deep pink color, it is easy for someone to mistake it to be a Kunzite, and when it is displayed in its peach color, and also in large sizes, one could easily say that it is a spessartite garnet.

That said, this vexation and confusion is further aggravated by the fact that the stones should be above 5 carats for the colors to be seen. When you look at a stone that is lower than 5 carats in weight, then the pink color will seem to be a cast, and the peach variety will seem like a tinge of the color of the wearer’s skin, rather than a tone of the gemstone. Whether in the peach or the pink shades, the colors will really be a figment of the imagination. It is very rare, in over 100 years that a small Morganite has been seen to show it full-bodied color.

That said, you can now understand the shock and respect that a Kentucky gemstone dealer, known as Simon Watt, of Mayer & Watt, felt when a dealer from Bangkok came and presented him with a large parcel of small Morganite which had a very intense color, saying that he had got them from a new deposit in Madagascar. The intensity of the color made him remember why the Morganite had once been called the rose beryl. He says that he bought the whole parcel right there on the spot, and he would have bought more if they were available in the same quality, despite the small size.

Subsequently, at a gem show, Watt predicted that there would be a new age in the availability of the truly intense small Morganite gemstones, and many people opted to write about the arrival of a true pink beryl, and in plentiful amounts. However this prediction did not come true, since the deposit was just a fluke; there was no stock to match the prediction that Watt had made. As far as many Morganite aficionados are concerned, the fact that a small number of small-sized Morganite made it to the market is significant, and will spur mineralogists and gemologists to look for more deposits, which can be exploited economically for a long period. Madagascar is to the Morganite, what Burma is to the Ruby.

The pink beryl with the name of a banker

At the turn of the 20th Century the beautiful pink beryl was found in California. However, it is the variety that was found in Madagascar, that truly put the gemstone on the map, and made gemologists and aficionados perk up. Until the gemstone was found on the African island, the pink beryl did not receive a lot of attention. If you look through the master gemstone tome, by Max Bauer, Precious Stones, written in 1905, you will not find the name of the pink beryl anywhere; that is how obscure it was at that time. Even the Doyen of Beryl, John Sinkankas, was very stingy when he mentions this gemstone variety in his book entitled, “Emerald and other Beryl”. In fact, he is even more frugal when he describes the gemstone, and only gives it a single paragraph, which was devoted to the large stones which come from Madagascar; in this book, he also calls the gemstone pink beryl, and not Morganite.

Now, in 1910, the Vice President of the leading gemstone dealer, Tiffany’s, George Frederick Kunz, decided to give the pink beryl from Madagascar the name of Morganite, in the honor of his financier, J.P Morgan. Morgan was an ardent gemstone collector, as well as a generous benefactor, in terms of donating gemstones, to the New York based American Museum of Natural History. At the first instance, having been chosen to be the namesake for a deep pink Spodumen that was first found in California in 1901, Kunz was nominated in the place of Morgan. This is the reason why there was a lot of confusion over the two gemstones, namely Kunzite and Morganite. It is said that Kunz at first protested half-heartedly at this nomenclature. Since Kunz was very powerful, as far as the politics of naming gemstones was concerned, John Sinkankas was very frugal when he used the name Morganite in any of his publications.

The color challenges faced by Morganite gemstones

Many people propose that the gemstone should revert to its original name of rose beryl, but this is frowned upon because not many of the small sized stones, which are the most, have the carmine pinks and purple pinks, that are possessed by some of the most famous specimens of this gemstone. Watt says that unlike sapphires, which have color zones, all beryl crystals have a uniform color distribution and the pink beryl needs to be large when it comes to classification based on color.

It is important to note that small Morganites that have fine color are far more expensive than larger specimens with the same color. This is because they are considered to be of higher quality because they maintain intense colors even in their small size. A Morganite gemstone weighing between 20 to 50 carats may sell at $40 to $75 per carat, and the rare smaller version with the same color intensity will sell within the range of $75 to $150 per carat.

Morganite has been known to face many challenges when it comes to the saturation of color, just like all other pastel color beryl. It is very hard to find small aquamarines and green beryl having a deep color, and this is the reason why, the irradiated blue topaz is such a darling to people who love small beryl. For example, you can take a 100 carat sapphire stone, and cut out 10 smaller stones each weighing 10 carats, and as long as they each have a color zone, they will still maintain some great color intensity in them. However, if you take a Morganite weighing 100 carats and cut it in the same manner, you will get 10 stones, weighing 10 carats each, which will be almost worthless, since their color will seem washed-out.

It is not that you cannot find Morganite that has deep pink or peach colors in small sizes, but these are very rare. Such small stones have been found in Madagascar and Brazil since the 1800s, and in other localities such as Maine, California and Russia. When you read some of the digests that are derived from the reports by Sinkankas in his book on beryl, you can understand why the hopes of Watt, that there will be an abundance of small, but intensely colored Morganite stones, were dashed so quickly.

Getting small Morganite crystals that have fine color is not a matter of getting a lucky find of a large deposit; this is a factor of finding that one crystal, which has the magical properties that will yield the smaller stones in fine colors. This van be seen, when in 1970, quarry workers in Maine happened to find a 20x15 inch Morganite crystal, with a terminations that provided a clear cuttable area, and this crystal yielded 5,000 carats of smaller fine colored gemstones.

One can only wonder what could have happened in Madagascar when the smaller stones were brought to Watt. Is it that the miners found the rare magical stone that could come up with the stones that were presented to him? Is it that he was just lucky to have been where he was on that day? Perhaps, one day, Madagascar will once again provide high quality Morganite crystals, which truly deserve to be called rose beryl.

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