So what’s the deal with Morganite anyway, you know, that peach colored gem everyone wants?
In the past couple of years Morganite has gone from a rarely encountered collectors-only gemstone to one of the most requested gemstones we carry. Before I analyze why that has happened it is good to establish what Morganite is in the first place. Morganite is the pink to orange variety of the mineral beryl (so it is a cousin of Aquamarine and Emerald) thus it is a durable 7.5-8 on the Mohs hardness scale. Morganite was named after financier JP Morgan who backed the gem exploration trips that discovered Morganite in California and again in Madagascar. Since that time Brazil has become the primary source of pinker Morganite with African countries such as Nigeria and Mozambique sourcing most of the peach and orange gems. (Above photo is courtesy of Nomad’s gems, one of our key Morganite suppliers. The cut stone weighs 190cts, and both pieces come from Mozambique.)
So what catapulted Morganite into popularity?
The first factor was discoveries of new Morganite deposits in Africa. Prior to 2000 the Brazilian deposits were the only commercially viable sources of Morganite, but most of the gems from these mines were a very faint pink. In the early thousands we started to see beautiful peach toned gems from a find in Pakistan, but this supply was soon exhausted. Fortunately in 2010 two new deposits were found in East African countries. Not only have these sources provided some natural Morganite, but they also produce faint pink to colorless material that can be treated to attain the famed rich peach color. Thus we are seeing more Morganite on the market and at lower prices than years past, making it an attractive gem for designers and jewelers to work with.
The second factor increasing Morganite popularity has been the focus on pastel shades in the design world. For the past 15 years Pantone has chosen a medium or light shade of blue, pink or orange for its Color of the Year, and this year the color is “Rose Quartz” which bears a striking similarity to the pink shades found in Morganite. In both 2015 and 2016 the more orange-peach shade was a noted “spring color” in the clothing and accessories world, increasing demand for high-end fashion jewelry with Morganite. Concurrently we have seen an increase in demand for rose gold, which happens to look amazing set with Morganite. The color has become so popular that we have sold several engagement rings featuring peach colored gems! (Above is the 2016 Color of the Year next to a suite of jewelry we made featuring Morganite and Aquamarine in 14k white gold. Below left: Nigerian natural Morganite set in rose gold and platinum, Middle: Brazilian morganite cut by John Dyer set with a heart-shaped diamond Right: 6ct oval Morganite from a new deposit in India set with round diamond accents.)
Hold onto your hats, it’s about to get technical.
People who are interested in Morganite quality factors should know that, like many colored gemstones, the grading is highly subjective. While most gemologists agree that Morganite should be free of noticeable imperfections, agreement ends there. Gem collectors tend to want a medium pink color, untouched by violet or peach undertones. However most of our clients want a medium to light peach color, with just a hint of pink. We tend to think that no matter which color you prefer, the key factor is a precision cut, as a good cut can intensify the base color of the gem and makes the end piece of jewelry much more sparkly and attractive.
(The four gems at left are totally natural and untreated. The first three are Nigerian, the last is from Pakistan. The right four gems are the treated material, the first two from Mozambique, the second two from Brazil.)
Pricing for Morganite has a wide range. The paler shades of peach in sizes under 5cts can be had for $50/ct, whereas the deepest peachy pinks in 5-10cts can be $200/ct. A premium is paid for natural gems from southern California and Nigeria that are totally untreated- these gems tend to be under 3cts in size but occur in deeper colors, and can be had for between $250-500/ct- if you can find them. The popularity of Morganite and pastel gems in general has increased demand for peachy colored tourmalines, spinels and sapphires, so expect to have to hunt for these colors in other gem materials.