Open those cabinets and let's make gemstones in your kitchen!
If you are at home right now go stand in your kitchen. Go on. Go to your kitchen and look around and make note of some of the things in your cabinets, shelves, and counter tops. Go ahead, we’ll wait.
Hum hum humm hum hum da dee dah dee dum…….OK, you’re back. Did you know that you just saw virtually all of the ingredients required to make gemstones in your kitchen. It’s true! Let’s find out how.
Look up again at the banner photo of this week’s ISG newsletter and you will probably see a lot of the same ingredients that are in your kitchen. And if we look at the chemical composition of gemstones you will find just about everything you need to create sapphires, peridots, opals, pearls, and a virtual smorgasbord of other gemstones, right out of the ingredients in your kitchen. Here are some examples:
To make a ruby all we need is some aluminum from our roll of aluminum foil, some oxygen from our computer keyboard dust blower can, and a bit of the chromium from our vitamin cabinet. Al2O3 with Cr(chromium) and we have our first batch of gemstones from our kitchen.....ruby.
We can make a blue sapphire out of our same aluminum foil, oxygen can, but this time we will add some titanium used to make the plastic cups white (titanium is also used in your tooth whitener products) along with some iron from our cast iron skillet. Al2O3 with FeTi(iron/titanium).
How about a batch of phantom quartz crystals. For this we only need some of the silicone from our tube of adhesive and some oxygen from our oxygen can. Place them in the oven at just the right temperature and pressure and we grow ourselves some very nice quartz crystals. SiO2
How about some yummy peridot. For this we need some magnesium again from our vitamin chest, some iron from our cast iron skillet, some of the silicon from our adhesive tube, and just a pinch of oxygen from our can. Put them all together and you get a beautiful peridot gemstone. (Mg, Fe)2SiO4
And let’s not forget pearls. That is one of the easiest gems to make in the kitchen (although don’t tell the oysters we said that). All we need is the calcium carbonate from the bottle of Antacid Tablets that I always have here at my desk at the International School of Gemology. Nothing else needed. Calcium carbonate in pearls is just like the calcium carbonate in our antacids here at the ISG office. (we need a lot of them)
How about some jadeite. Pretty easy for us now as we are getting good at making gemstones out of household kitchen products. To make our jadeite we need some sodium from the salt (sodium chloride) in our Morton’s Salt box, some more of the aluminum foil from our foil wrap, some more silicon from our tube of adhesive, and finally some oxygen from our can. Add a little chromium from our vitamin and mineral cabinet and we have made ourselves a nice batch of jadeite. NaAl (Si2O6) And yes, the jadeite photo is kind of cheezy but after all, we are in the kitchen!
And we just couldn’t do this without making ourselves a pan of labradorite sunstones from Oregon . For this we need more sodium from our salt shaker, some of the calcium from our antacids, a few inches more of our aluminum foil, a little more silicon from our tube of adhesive, and some more oxygen from our air can. Add just a pinch of copper from those scrubber brushes by the sink…..and we have ourselves a beautiful labradorite sunstone. Na(AlSi3O8)Ca(Al2Si2O8)
And for dessert, how about an opal. Easy to bake and fun to enjoy. For our opal we just need some of the silicon from our adhesive tube, the rest of our oxygen from our air can, and we will add just a bit of water from our tap to give it the needed H2O to really make it zing. And voila’ a beautiful opal to end our time in the kitchen. SiO2 nH2O
Please put the phones down
Ok, Ok before anyone freaks out, I admit it........in truth, you cannot make gemstones in your kitchen. You could never create the heat and pressure necessary to actually make gemstones. But it is a fact that if you could emulate the conditions of gemstone crystal growth in your kitchen, you do indeed have virtually all of the ingredients you need to mix up a batch of many different types of gemstones right there.
The study of the chemical make up of gemstones is fun and interesting. But I hate trying to read off those long and very boring chemical equations. Sorry, but I really don’t care about them. I would rather think of a ruby as some aluminum foil and oxygen from my kitchen, with some of the chromium tablets my wife makes me take from time to time.
I have learned the same information about the chemical make up of gemstones using my method, and quite honestly have had a lot more fun than those folks having to memorize the chemical equations.
And after all, it’s the fun that we’re really here for, isn’t it? And the most fun for me? I guarantee you someone will still call me asking what kind of kiln and pressure cooker set up they need to actually make gemstones in their kitchen.