Diamonds Made from Salad Dressing?

by Ken Rock, MSDC Editor

In March 2022, bidding closed on an auction for a diamond that was literally crafted out of ranch seasoning. Yes, you heard that right. California’s Hidden Valley Ranch sent a few bottles of its popular, nationally marketed ranch seasoning to a commercial diamond-synthesizing lab and enlisted the services of geologist Dean VandenBiesen to create a diamond.

The company sought the help of a geologist to make the diamond. The ranch seasoning was first heated to a scorching 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Photo by Hidden Valley.

VandenBiesen first heated the Hidden Valley dry ranch seasoning to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit so that only so that only graphite remained. The graphite came out in chunks and grit. “And graphite is what’s needed to go inside the diamond press in order to transform it into a diamond,” the geologist explained.

Dean VandenBiesen is seen heating the seasoning in a special oven. The heat turned the seasoning into graphite. Photo by Hidden Valley.

Those chunks and grit were shaken in a tube with ball bearings, which ground it down to a powder. That powder then went into a closed chamber that applied a pressure of 400 tons per square inch, an extraordinary amount of pressure and heat, for about two months.

The graphite was crushed with a special press for two months, eventually turning it into a diamond. Photo by Hidden Valley.

Once that powder came out of the chamber, the diamond maker broke the hardened graphite powder apart to find a rough synthetic diamond inside. Next, the rough diamond was sent for polishing and cutting to create the look and shape of a diamond anyone would be proud to wear — especially someone who loves ranch dressing.

Hidden Valley Ranch diamond
Photograph: Courtesy of Hidden Valley Ranch.

After faceting, the glittering 2.01-carat (carrot?), round brilliant-cut diamond was polished to perfection and expertly set in a 14k white gold band with the engraving HVR LVR: “Hidden Valley Ranch Lover.”

As an indication of the item's popularity, there were 79 bidders and final winning bid was for $12,500.  The buyer received the ring in a custom Hidden Valley Ranch ring box with a custom jewelry pouch.

The Ranch Diamond
Photo by Hidden Valley Ranch.

Synthetic Diamonds from Other Sources

Although Hidden Valley enjoyed wave of publicity from its "salad dressing diamond," the transformation of its salad dressing into a gem diamond was, from a scientific standpoint, nothing unusual. Gem-quality diamonds have previously been synthesized from many carbon-rich materials, including peanut butter, motor oil – and even the cremation ashes of pets and family members.

The increasingly routine nature of making diamonds has prompted a standing joke among diamond synthesizers. Pointing out that it is no longer any great feat to make diamonds from materials like salad dressing, they wryly note that a much greater technical challenge would be to make salad dressing from diamonds.

Funds Raised Used for Charity

Deb Crandall, Marketing Director at Hidden Valley Ranch, said the idea behind the diamond stemmed from one of its custom Valentine’s Day ranch bottles being used in a marriage proposal last year. “We saw a love of ranch become part of one of life’s most beautiful moments,” she said. “It made us wonder, how can we make this act of love even more memorable?”

All funds raised in the eBay auction were donated to Feeding America, said Crandall. “We are especially excited to... know that every dollar raised will provide 10 meals to those in need.”

The Hidden Valley Ranch diamond is just one of many over-the-top stunts the creator of ranch dressing has pulled off in recent years, along with the likes of RanchNog, Ranch trick-or-treats, and giant inflatable ranch bottles.

Hidden Valley Ranch, which calls itself “the nation’s original ranch dressing brand,” was founded in 1954 by Steve Henson. It is now part of the Clorox Company.

Diamonds are forever — and, it turns out, ranch dressing is, too.