For the last few centuries, gold technology hasn’t seen a tremendous amount of progress. During the Industrial Revolution, gold jewelry and coin production became easier and jewelry more intricate. Aside from those innovations, however, the way we create gold items now is similar to how it was done centuries ago. Leave it to Apple to reinvent the wheel. While designing the new 18-karat gold Apple Watch, Apple also created (and patented) a new type of gold called Apple Gold. But what makes Apple Gold so different?
In an interview with the Financial Times, Apple designer Jony Ive described what makes Apple Gold distinct: “… the molecules in Apple gold are closer together, making it twice as hard as standard gold.” Many scientists question whether it’s actually twice as hard, but a harder version of gold is obviously something that would have many applications. So how did Apple revolutionize gold to make it stronger?
As most gold investors know, karats are a measure of gold’s purity. The higher the karat number, the higher the purity of the gold. Standard 18-karat gold contains 75% gold. The other 25% is made up of other metals like copper, silver or palladium. This mixture of metals is known as an alloy. What makes Apple Gold special is that the other 25% isn’t metal at all. It’s low-density ceramic material. Which makes Apple Gold something that’s called a metal matrix composite or non-standard alloy. The low-density ceramic material gives Apple Gold an unprecedented strength compared to standard gold. But strength isn’t the only perk of Apple Gold.
According to Apple’s own patent, Apple Gold allows the company to use "as little gold as possible" in their watches. The same ingredient that gives the watch its strength requires less gold. To explain it simply: The low-density ceramic material takes up more space than any metal would. This allows Apple to use less gold, but still make up the 75% required to call it 18-karat gold. So, for example, if you bought an 18-karat gold Rolex that weighed the exact same amount as an Apple Watch, the Rolex would contain more gold. This may not matter much to some consumers, but for people who scrutinize gold items every day, it’s an important distinction.
Like this? Read Top Five Reasons to Invest in Gold and Silver.
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