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Hublot’s Gold Invention

John Lyon

As long as humans have been forming gold into precious objects, goldsmiths have struggled to offset the metal’s softness. Traditionally, this issue has been addressed by alloying gold with other metals like silver, copper, and palladium (the percentages of which yield the familiar karat system for grading gold purity). However, Swiss watchmaker Hublot has taken a different approach to the problem with its new “magic gold,” a material that is formed by combining gold and ceramics in a process that imparts the metal with nearly 2.5 times the hardness of standard 18-karat gold. In fact, the material is so strong that it would take a diamond to scratch it. In creating “magic gold,” Hublot’s metallurgists mold boron carbide powder into the desired shape of the finished piece; this porous material is then injected with molten gold under extreme pressure, fusing the two materials together and maintaining a high-enough percentage of gold to be labeled 18-karat. The new alloy has yet to be utilized in any current products on the market, but Hublot plans to unveil a number of designs that implement this new creation at Baselworld in March. (www.hublot.com)

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