Morganite: Big pinks

Friends ask me what is the top-seller at the gem dealers' company where I work part time. Easy: morganite. We cannot keep this pink stone in stock, and the bigger ones sell faster than modest sizes. A jeweler recently came in and chose this 16mm x13mm cushion-cut stone for a ring he's making for his wife:

I'm showing her big baby to display an example of one of the desired colours, cut and clarity. (Other morganite pink hues are  peach, salmon, or very pale pink, and more rarely, a light purplish pink). You get a lot of gem for the money with morganite, though prices are rising as a once almost-unknown stone of the beryl family steps into the spotlight.


Below, Anna Sheffield's Bea ring with a 5mmx7mm morganite and diamonds, $3, 200 at Twist. At this price you'll get a sophisticated, hand-wrought ring.
If you think that's pretty pricey, consider that the yellow diamond version of the same ring is over $19, 000.


You can wave a big morganite around for less than the price of a fancy-shmantzy handbag by keeping a lookout for sales and checking out the larger retailers. For example, Ross Simons offer this 10mm (3.20ct) morganite cocktail ring dressed up with .38ct of diamonds in a halo setting for about $1, 493.  A lot of splash for the cash.
By subbing in silver and white zircon for gold and diamonds, you can bring the price of a rock down to $305, with a ring like Gemporia's. I find the design pleasing though the pink looks less saturated. (Generally the deeper peachy-pinks are more costly than paler hues, but I like the delicacy of those, too. Just avoid any tinge of brown colour or a dull stone.) Some retailers use photo enhancement that boosts colour, so be sure anything you order has a full-refund return policy.

Like some blondes I am certainly not naming here, many morganites get a little help to flaunt that head-turning shade. They are irradiated, and the colour will stay stable. While gem collectors usually choose only natural (unheated or otherwise colour-enhanced stones), the treatment of morganite, as long as it is disclosed, is considered acceptable for jewelry.

Morganite is frequently chosen for engagement rings, by young couples buying a first piece of 'real' jewelry, and it is an iffy choice for that purpose, because there is a downside. Its hardness rating on the Mohs scale is 7.5 to 8, therefore, of medium durabilty (diamond is 10 on the scale) and the material also cleaves easily.

And here's a little gem geekery: some sellers call morganite "pink emerald". A noted authority, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) disallow the term, preferring "morganite" or "pink beryl". However, the term is used by those who find it more marketable.

Most people don't realize that the Mohs scale is logarithmic, so morganites (and aquamarines) are eight times softer than diamond. After several years of constant wear in a ring setting, the stone will show visible wear. (Repolishing is not an automatic fix, because some of the cuts, such as the popular checkerboard, do not repolish easily. )

A number of jewelers will not set a morganite as an ER, or at very least make their concern crystal clear. (Sidebar: even diamond, given years of wear in settings that expose the edges, like the classic prong, will eventually chip at the girdle, and need repair and repolishing.) "Oh", one young women said on a forum, "I work in an office and my (morganite) ring doesn't get worn hard." Stones will scratch from particles in dust, and even basic tasks expose a stone to wear and tear.

Some jewelers will assure a client that morganite is perfectly durable for jewelry, without adding, but it depends on the piece and how you'll wear it. That's why, if splashing out on an everyday ring, and pining for pink, I'd choose a pink sapphire, and save the morganite for a cocktail ring or sexy pendant. 

Go ahead and fall for their allure; just take some care wearing, and store so they're not abraded by other jewelry.

I'm smitten by a pair of 7mm morganite studs set in rose gold; price, $341 on overstock. com. If they are indeed this pungent pink, a good buy.

When I first looked at a case full of morganite, I thought it was ultra girly-girl. Then a woman well past fifty came in with her jeweler and chose a pair of pear-cut morganites, and I saw them entirely differently; they literally grew up before my eyes. If you prefer dangles, generous (12mm x 8mm) pear-cuts set in 14k rose gold provides that elegance; price, $910.

If peachy pink is one of your feel-good colours, shopping soonish for morganite makes sense, because this is a relatively scarce gemstone. Here is a price guide for loose stones; you'll see how the price climbs as the colour is more saturated and of course, as size increases. 

 And if you're already there, lucky you! You could send me a selfie!



LauraH said…
You make the learning go down so smoothly. I may never wear this stone but it was lovely to see and fascinating to read about. So pretty and sparkly! Thanks for sharing your expertise.
Kamchick said…
The work that you do and the fascinating knowledge that you must gain while doing it is so wonderful to read about. While I am thinking about 'less hard gems', I have my mother's ER - a centre deep green emerald flanked by two gorgeous diamonds. I remember that ring when I was a young child - it has since been 'redone'. The emerald is now in a bezel setting. I hate the look of this...stone is contained and claustrophobic. The setting may be protecting the edges of the stone from damage, but it looks terrible to me. My question is: can a really good jeweller replace that setting and set that emerald free? Or is it too risky?
New e-mail address is:
Duchesse said…
Kamchick: I've answered you here because others may have same question.

Bezels protect emeralds (and any stone at below 8 on the Mohs scale) but you don't have to do it. Emeralds, especially, evoke paranoia; many jewellers have a kind of reflexive fear (like doctors have of malpractice suits, even when what they are doing is not especially risky.) Consider that emeralds have been handed down for generations without incident.

Your emerald can indeed be set free. Here is mine, it's ca. 1930, in its original setting, and has no damage:
It may look like there is a bezel, but in fact it is prong-set, and the stone rests atop a gold rim which does not cover the stone.

But, I don't wear it for anything more strenuous than having dinner (that I didn't cook.)

Some bezels are too thick or both the band and bezel are thick, and the setting overwhelms the stone. A very fine bezel (also called a "frame" setting) looks totally different than an thick '80s one, and the halo (essentially a bezel set with small stones) can be beautiful.

Example, this ring by Cathy Waterman:

If you look at the emerald rings on TwistOnline (a good source for contemporary styles), you will see bezel and frame settings which are in balance. (Not all jewelers are good designers, and vice versa.)

If your emerald is old, and especially if it has been subjected to steam cleaning, you may find that having it re-oiled (by a specialist in emeralds- your jeweller may need to send it out) and polished will make it look fantastic.

Finally, if you want very minimal metal surrounding the emerald, you could re-set it as a pendant- much less vulnerable to a knock.

Patricia said…
Hi Duchesse, I had never heard of morganite before until about 6 years ago, when a dear friend gave me morganite stud earrings for my 50th birthday. They are a very pale blush pink, very pretty, but I do like the more pronounced pink of the cocktail ring you show. The nicest morganite jewellery I've seen are the Kiki McDonough earrings that the Duchess of Cambridge wears.
Duchesse said…
Patricia: What a lovely gesture by your friend. McDonough's earrings are here:

The price is on the high end, but that probably does not concern the Duchess of Cambridge.
Kamchick said…
The images that you sent me are truly beautiful and I am encouraged to find a fearless jeweller who can release the emerald from its bezel setting. Might that jeweller be the one that you work with?? Thanks for taking the time to educate your readers - it is a fascinating business.

diverchic said…
Peachy pink! Yep, that's me. I love the danglers.

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