Cutting a 294-ct Trilliant Morganite: An Interview with Steve Moriarty

Learn the story behind the 294-ct trilliant morganite cut by Steve Moriarty of Moriarty's Gem Art and watch his gem-cutting demonstration.

6 Minute Read

HomeLearning CenterGemologyGem and Jewelry NewsCutting a 294-ct Trilliant Morganite: An Interview with Steve Moriarty
Large colored gems with excellent cut, color, and clarity are truly exceptional. Steve Moriarty of Moriarty's Gem Art has cut an amazing 294-ct trilliant morganite. In this interview, Steve talks about cutting, pricing, and promoting this one-of-a-kind gemstone. 
steve moriarty holding 274-ct trilliant morganite
Steve Moriarty with the 294-ct trilliant morganite gemstone. Photo by Moriarty's Gem Art. Used with permission.

Getting Into Gem Cutting

All right, Steve. First, tell us about yourself and how you got into gem cutting.

How I got into gem cutting is quite the story. I was on the road selling colored stones to jewelers around the Midwest and just developed such an interest in it. I'd always been interested in colored stones, but now I thought maybe I'd like to try cutting. So, I gave it a shot but was unsuccessful at first.

I was talking to a customer at a gem and lapidary supply and mentioned my attempts at cutting. He said, 'Well, come on over to my house, and I'll give you a little hand with it.' I went to his house, sat down at his machine, and spent the next 12 hours cutting a synthetic quartz. That customer was Jim Larimore, and it was very kind of him to sit with me for 12 hours, someone he had just met. When I finished, he said, 'You probably should continue doing this.'

What happened next?

I kept cutting and started my business here on the Square in Crown Point, Indiana, Moriarty's Gem Art, and online as and It's all about our cut gems and the jewelry we design for them. My family is involved, too. My wife and son Michael are here, my other son Jeff works remotely, and my nephew Christopher Michael is our Designer.

About the Trilliant Morganite

Let's talk about this morganite you cut. What is this large gem you're holding?

It's a morganite from Mozambique. A friend offered me the piece of rough. It was kind of preformed. My son Michael and I were in Tucson, and I looked at it with great desire because it was just a beautiful color.

What exactly is a preform?

A preform is gem rough somebody has worked on to remove inclusions and show it can cut a clean piece of material. This preform looked better than most morganites, which are generally heavily included.

And you were debating purchasing this preform?

Yes, I was very interested, but it was a very expensive piece of material. I discussed it with my wife. She was concerned about the salability because it was so expensive. That is indeed a concern. When you get into $70,000 to $80,000 gems, the potential buyers and sales become a bit more limited. But there was a chance for profit, and Michael suggested making a promotional video, which is very important. That was enough to persuade me, so we went for it.

Cutting the Trilliant Morganite

What was the trilliant morganite's weight before and after cutting?

It weighed about 740 carats before cutting and 294 carats after cutting. That was within the range I had hoped for. I aimed for at least 250 and dreamed of hitting a finished weight of 300 carats. Many people commenting online think, 'Oh, you lost that much weight.' But that loss is typical. You're going to lose about 50% on a piece that looks like the finished stone. I probably get a yield of 35% to 40% on an average cut, so this actually worked out very well.

Cutting the morganite. Photo by Moriarty's Gem Art. Used with permission.
What happened to the material you cut away? Did you cut other gems from it?

The piece was shield-shaped. In my experience, cutting shields doesn't yield very brilliant gems. So, I decided on a trillion cut rather than a shield. The corner that made the rough shield-shaped might have had a recoverable stone. I estimated it could probably yield a 10-ct stone. When I started measuring it, my estimate came down to six or seven carats. When you get to that size, you risk reducing the weight of the bigger stone by six or seven carats. You have to saw it, and you'll lose several carats even if you mis-cut just a millimeter into the bigger stone. So, I just decided to grind off that corner. As a result, there really was nothing left to cut from it. The ground material wasn't usable.

Is the morganite more valuable cut as it is now or as rough?

It's always more valuable as a cut gem. The rough gem just has no life, no brilliance. Yes, it was pretty and had value, but I at least doubled the gem's value by cutting it.

How long did it take to cut the trilliant morganite?

Forever. It was a long process, probably the most time I've spent on a gem since I cut a 571-ct quartz. Cutting the trilliant morganite took about 30 hours. One day, I worked on it for 11 hours straight and managed to hurt my shoulder a bit during the cutting process from doing the same action over that length of time. I'm still suffering from that.

The Market for the Trilliant Morganite

Are there any other stones out there on the market like this one?

There are no other morganites on the market exactly like this one. I see some bigger morganites out there, but they're windowed. They're just not cut well and don't have the color this stone has. I haven't seen cut morganites in this size range with this gem's quality. I took so much time with this morganite just getting the cut and all the angles right. This gem has perfect symmetry and extreme brilliance.

The cut and polished 294-ct trilliant morganite. Photo by Moriarty's Gem Art. Used with permission.
What would someone do with a gemstone this size?

Just hold it and enjoy it. Making a pendant out of it isn't out of the question. It'd be a very large pendant. We've made some big pieces like that. More likely, a collector or a museum might have an interest in this gem.

Is the trilliant morganite available for purchase, and what is its value?

It's for sale on our website,, currently priced around $80,000, around $275 per carat. The appraised value is significantly higher than that. Using The GemGuide pricing for a morganite over 30 carats, we'll end up well over $200,000.

Who uses The GemGuide's pricing?

Appraisers and jewelers use The GemGuide publication because it prices so many types of gemstones. I think many jewelers use The GemGuide because it's difficult to keep up with the current prices of 50 different colored gems. Representatives from The GemGuide go to the major gem shows to research current pricing, so their publication is a very good representation of wholesale gem pricing.

Gem Cutting Video by Steve Moriarty

Do you have any other wild gems you foresee cutting in the future?

I needed a break after this one, but we do have plans for more big gems. We have a very large Ethiopian opal that may turn out bigger than the trilliant morganite. It's a little different. We must keep it wet constantly, or it'll crack. Cutting it will be interesting. This beautiful opal might weigh 300 to 400 carats when finished. It will surely be something unique.

Where can someone find information if they are interested in getting into the gem cutting trade?

We have many videos that teach the complete gem-cutting process from start to finish. If you search the MoreGems YouTube channel, you'll find many educational videos, including videos of me teaching gem cutting.

How many people have seen the trilliant morganite?

Well, it's been on Reddit, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. We've received a remarkable number of subscribers from these posts. The TikTok video got about 3 million views in the first week. The Instagram video got around 2 million views. Wow! I think that's incredible and certainly worthwhile.

Jeff Moriarty

Jeff Moriarty has been in the family jewelry business for over 25 years. His family has a jewelry store in Crown Point, Indiana, as well as an ecommerce website.  He travels the world with his father in search of amazing gemstones and new discoveries.

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