Carats and ranch: Diamond made from salad dressing highlights lab-grown popularity

ASDA unveils a copy of Camilla Parker Bowles' engagement ring (Photo by David Lodge/FilmMagic)

Hey guys or gals, now is the time to step up your proposal game.

And if you were thinking about popping the question, maybe here’s your sign. March 20 is National Proposal Day when everyone can celebrate the first step in the engagement process in all its beauty.

If you wonder why the date is so symbolic for this observance, it’s also the first day of spring. And it’s the perfect excuse to get outside, enjoy the weather and create a memorable showcase of love to your partner.

So, you have the date, you have the location, but do you have the ring?

The history of the first proposal is dated to the 1470s when Austria’s Archduke Maximilian proposed to Mary of Burgundy by giving her a ring with flat diamonds arranged in the letter’ M.’

The basic building blocks of diamonds are carbon atoms. According to the American Gem Society Laboratories, a diamond crystal is essentially carbon that is arranged in such a way that it becomes one of the Earth's hardest materials. Most natural diamonds are 1 to 3 billion years old. 

Aside from their natural presence, anything that can be reduced down to carbon can potentially be used as a raw material for the creation of a laboratory-grown diamond. There are even companies that create memorial diamonds from the remains of loved ones – humans and pets – after they have passed. 

Carats cooked in labs

Recently, Hidden Valley Ranch happened to use their ranch seasoning for this resource to create a first-of-its-kind diamond.

The 2-carat round brilliant-cut diamond was created by a professional diamond maker in a lab by heating Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning to 2,500 degrees and then crushing the output beneath 400 tons of pressure, taking five months to create.

"Last year, when one of our custom Valentine’s Day bottles was used in a marriage proposal, we were inspired," said Deb Crandall, marketing director at Hidden Valley Ranch. "We saw a love of ranch become part of one of life’s most beautiful moments. It made us wonder, how can we make this act of love even more memorable?"

The timeless combination of carats and ranch sold on eBay for $12,550 on March 17, just in time for National Proposal Day. All proceeds from the sale benefited Feeding America.

Prior to 2018, lab-grown diamond sales totaled less than $1 billion – or less than 1% – of the total global diamond jewelry market, according to National Jeweler, the jewelry industry’s most reputable magazine. Increase in popularity could top sales near $10 billion by next year acquiring more than one-tenth of the same market.

The creation of man-made diamonds has also changed as advancements in technology over the years have allowed larger lab-grown diamonds to be produced.

A more recent process now uses hydrocarbon gases in a chamber that are energized with a microwave beam to create a plasma cloud that deposits layer upon layer of carbon atoms onto seed crystals to create laboratory-grown diamonds, AGS Laboratories said. However, it still requires the main ingredient, carbon.

While lab-grown diamonds have provided the consumer with an additional choice for their jewelry purchases, industry experts agree that it is up to the consumer to understand what they are deciding between when thinking about their purchase.