Making Gemstones from Household Kitchen Products



We are standing in an ordinary kitchen inside an ordinary house. The cabinets are stocked with an ordinary array of food stuffs, condiments, and garnishes. The cabinets are also stocked with ordinary pots, pans, dishes, flatware, and serving utensils. In other words...we are in just about any kitchen, in any home, around the world. With one exception: along with us we have a high heat, high pressure hydraulic press. And with this press we are going to take ordinary items from this ordinary kitchen and make some extraordinary gemstones and minerals.

To do this we will take elements contained in these various items in this kitchen, mix them together in our hydraulic press, heat them to the required temperature, and allow them to form crystals of the various minerals that we choose to make. Admittedly we are taking some poetic license since the correct conditions of heat and pressure could not really be duplicated in our kitchen press, and some crystallization processes take millions of years. But for the sake of our understanding of gems and minerals, we will speed up time, turn up the heat, and increase the pressure enough to make this happen for us here in our ordinary kitchen, in our ordinary home, and within a short period of time




We will start with something easy. Like an opal. To make the opal we will forgo growing an ancient conifer tree and having to wait until it dies and decays in the ground and the empty space left being filled with liquid silicon that hardens into an opal. We will simply take the required products from the kitchen cabinet and make an opal. In this case all we need is some of the silicon glue from the tube under the kitchen sink. Opal is a hydrated oxide of silicon, which means the tube of silicon glue we have can be mixed with some of the air in the kitchen, and some water from the faucet, and stir it up until is forms a paste-like concoction. Now we can let this paste seep into a cavity, formed where our ancient conifer tree died, was buried by other vegetation, decayed and disappeared. Wait about a million years, and viola' the paste has hardened into a nice opal.

Silicone + oxygen from the air in the kitchen + water = Opal



 Since we have our tube of silicon glue out we might as well whip up a batch of amethysts while we're at it. The ingredients are basically the same, we just need to make a few changes. First we will take some of the silicon from our tube of glue and put it in the press. We will need some of the oxygen from the air. Just like an opal, silicon and oxygen are the prime ingredients of quartz. Which is a large family of gems and minerals of which amethyst is a member. But even though all of the family members are quartz, they are all a bit different because each has its own type of impurity in the form of various other elements within their crystals, which cause the variations in colors. So in order to make an amethyst we are going to mix the silicon and oxygen, but we are also going to have to take down that iron skillet from the pot rack. Because amethyst has just a pinch of iron in it to give it its purple color. So we will add a piece of the handle from the cast iron skillet to the silicon glue and oxygen from the air and turn on the heat and pressure for a few million years and again, viola', we have an amethyst.

We can do the same with our silicon and oxygen mix to make a lot of other members of the quartz family. Throw the entire cast iron skillet into the press and you will have a yellow citrine. Turn down the heat so the mixture does not have as long to crystallize and it will make millions of tiny crystals that will form a larger massive stone known as chalcedony. These will not be transparent but will rather be opaque.


But lets get a bit more creative with our chalcedony mixture. We will leave in the silicon and oxygen, but this time add some of the nickel. We can take some nickel from the Ni-Cad rechargeable batteries from our emergency light on the wall.








We will take some of the nickel and add it to the mix, leave the heat down low so the mix crystallizes quickly in small massive stones, and now we get the beautiful apple green variety of quartz chalcedony known as...chrysoprase. We could continue all day with the quartz family but there is so much more to see. So we will press on (no pun intended)!




Since we have torn up our cast iron skillet we might as well use some of it to make ourselves a peridot. Except for this we will also need some magnesium. So we will go to the cabinet and get the "milk of magnesia", you know, the antacid. We could also use the magnesium from the Epson salt, but we may need that later. For now we will use the magnesium, some iron from our skillet, and throw in some or our silicon glue from the tube that is starting to get empty by now, and put them in the press with some oxygen from the kitchen under very high heat and pressure and we get ourselves a very nice peridot crystal. (Mg2SiO4-Fe2SIO4)


Now that the milk of magnesia bottle is open we should use what's left to stir up some garnets. But for these we will also have to get the aluminum foil out of the cabinet. Because garnets are made from magnesium, aluminum, oxygen, and what's left of our tube of silicon glue. We will put all of this into the press and we will soon have a beautiful red pyrope garnet. If we take out the magnesium and add some iron from our skillet to the aluminum foil, and oxygen and silicon glue, we will can have ourselves an almandine garnet. Tired of red, let's go to the cabinet with the vitamins and get some chromium tablets. We can substitute that chromium for the iron, and get a beautiful green uvarovite garnet. Since the stainless steel cookware contains almost 18 percent chromium we could have used those for our chromium source. But then, the tablets have more chromium and we may need the cookware for dinner. Lets go to the corundums.........

Sapphires and Ruby 

Getting board with green and red stones, lets make some blue sapphires. Sapphires occur in every color of the rainbow so we can have some fun with this one. We have just about everything out we will need to make a sapphire. The mineral that forms sapphire is known as corundum. The red one's are known as ruby, every other color is known as sapphire. We will create a blue color. All we need to make a corundum is the aluminum from our roll of aluminum foil, and oxygen from the air. Pure and simple. Throw that aluminum foil into the press with some oxygen and you will get a colorless corundum crystal. But for some color we will need to add something extra. We will put some of the iron from the skillet in the mix along with something new...titanium. There are a number of places in the kitchen we can get titanium. We can take it from the white paint on the walls, from the plastic cups in the cabinet, or from the linoleum floor. Since we don't need much we can scrape some paint from behind the refrigerator and put it in the press. The aluminum and oxygen will form the corundum, and the iron and titanium will join together by sharing an electron, and together they will selectively absorb the right colors to make our sapphire transmit a beautiful blue color. (Al2O3) This one is the colored banded one from the gem grading course.

And of course, you can take the aluminum and oxygen from the air and mix in just a pinch of chromiumand you will have yourself.....a ruby!That's all there is in a ruby.


We can make some simple gems and minerals with very little effort. Just take the graphite pencil lead out of all the pencils in the drawer, turn the heat and pressure up to the highest setting and we can make a diamond.


Or dissolve some table salt in a bowl of water and let it sit long enough to dry and form crystals. You have halite.

Pearls, Aragonite, Ammolite 

Here's another good one. The TUMS tablets by the sink. it is made of calcium carbonate. We can put the TUMS into the press and let them form some aragonite crystals. Nothing else needs to be added. And if we run that aragonite through an oyster, we will get ourselves some nice South Sea Pearls. If you allow an ammolite to eat your TUMS, he will eventually turn that calcium carbonate into a sea shell. Which will one day become a gemstone made from a fossil called ammolite All four items, TUMS, aragonite, ammolite, and pearls, are made from the same mineral: calcium carbonate (CaCO3).


Something in pink? No problem. Take some of the lithium grease from under the sink, add some aluminum foil, use what's left of our silicon glue, add some oxygen, and we can make ourselves a variety of the spodumene family known as kunzite. ( LiAlSi2O6 ) Don't take it out in the sun, though. The color is not permanent and will fade in strong sunlight. That's why they call it the "midnight stone". But if you stick it in a flame it will make the flame burn a brilliant color of red.


How about some feldspars? Let's make a variety of microcline feldspar known as amazonite. For this we will need to go to the refrigerator and get a bunch of cans of Diet 7UP. In those we will find a great source of potassium due to the preservatives: potassium benzoate, potassium disodium EDTA, and acesulfame potassium. We will take this potassium, mix it with our aluminum foil, add some silicon glue from our tube, and finally oxygen from the kitchen air...and make ourselves an amazonite, a member of the potassium feldspar group. (KAlSi3O8) 

Imperial Jade


OK, one more. Someone may be wanting to start dinner. We are going to take some of the sodium out of the salt shaker on the table (you know, sodium chloride). We will add in some aluminum from the last of our foil roll, a piece of iron from the cast iron skillet, whatever is left of our silicon glue tube, some oxygen, and just a pinch of chromium from our vitamin cabinet. Press it at the right temperature and pressure. And we have made ourselves a very fine piece of jadeite known as Imperial Jade. Na(Al,Fe)Si2O6 

We could go on and on. Because extraordinary things like gems and minerals are actually made out of ordinary things like aluminum foil, cast iron skillets, table salt, lithium grease, silicon glue, and soft drink name a few. In reality, we could make just about every gem and mineral on this earth from a few bottles of vitamin and mineral supplements from the local GNC or some groceries and other items from the local Walgreens stores. And it is the exceptionally wide variety of gems and minerals that are formed by a rather unexceptional list of elements that makes gems and minerals so fascinating to so many people.

I hope you enjoyed this little demonstration on the formation of gemstones. I took some poetic license, I realize. You cannot actually make gemstones in your kitchen without a lot more heat and pressure than you can generate. So please don't you science guys write me and tell me every little detail of physics that may have been violated. The general purpose was fulfilled with a respectable amount of accuracy. And the real purpose was to have some fun. I hope it fulfilled its purpose for you.

To learn more about the formation of gemstones we invite you to join us for the study of gemology with the:

International School of Gemology

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