Step 1: Introduction to Gemology

Lesson 4

Make Your Own Crystals

Making crystals yourself is a good way to learn how crystals grow. The simplest method involves crystallizing sugar to make rock candy.

  • Take a pot of water and stir in as much sugar as you can. When you see it settling on the bottom and no more dissolves, you’ve reached the saturation point. The water has absorbed all the sugar it can. This condition is called super-saturation.
  • Next, bring the pot to boil. At boiling, the saturation level changes. The solution is no longer super-saturated. You can now add considerably more sugar. So, add more sugar until you again reach a super-saturation level.
  • Remove the pot from the stove. As the water cools to room temperature, the amount of sugar it can hold in suspension will return to the previous level. The excess sugar must come out of the solution. As it does, it will crystallize.
  • Hang a string in the sugar solution for the crystals to grow on. (Put a weight at the bottom of the string to keep it straight). Although the process itself isn’t fast enough to observe unaided, you will see changes