Morganite (#24)

Lustrous gem to gemmy good-colored crystal.
Asia Kunar Valler, Afghanistan 2 ¾" x 1 ¾" x 1"


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Morganite is a variety of beryl, like Specimen #23. In this case, the minor impurity in the ideal formula, Be3Al2Si6O18, is not iron (Fe}, but manganese (Mn). Colors of morganite are typically very pale, and include pink, peach, salmon, and rose. The color can be enhanced by heat treatment, and nearly all morganite sold in jewelry has been heat treated to produce a more vivid pink.

This brings up a question: Are gems that have received some sort of treatment to enhance their appearance less valuable than those that have not? The answer is not straightforward. Many gems - precious and semi-precious - on sale in jewelry stores have been treated in some way. For example, emeralds are routinely impregnated with oil to hide micro cracks that, while small, are still noticeable. The colors of gems can be enhanced or even changed by, for example, irradiation, dyeing, or heat treatment. Is this in some way "cheating" the customer? That depends. If the treatment produces a color or clarity that fades with time or exposure to light, then the customer might rightly feel cheated. If the treatment is permanent, then the value of the gem may be increased by the treatment.

What about artificial gems? These are typically worth less than natural gems. Part of the value of natural gems is their comparative rarity. If similar (or essentially identical) stones can be produced artificially, then those are not rare and their value is diminished. This does not necessarily make them less attractive, but we humans are finicky. Those who can afford the "real deal" don't want equally attractive but artificial ("counterfeit") substitutes - sometimes because they cost less!