Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Making gemstones from household kitchen products?

3 June 2008

Making gemstones from
household kitchen products?

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


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


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


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.


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

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.

Now THAT….is when I REALLY
start having fun!

James FGA, GG

President, International School of

©2008 International School of Gemology

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