Colourful gold, an innovative product of Colombia

Colourful gold jewellery made in Colombia (AFP/Raul Arboleda)

The idea was born three years ago in the minds of a group of engineers from the University of the province of Antioquia in Medellin in Colombia, the North Western region of the country which houses most of the gold resources of the country.

Some 56 tons of mercury were mined in Colombia in 2011, an increase of 4%, in one of the main Latin American producers, with Peru and Mexico. That same year, its gold exports rose 31.4% in value to $ 2.8 billion, according to official figures.

“We are sitting on a mine and it’s sad to see large companies take our gold as a raw material to other countries, where it is processed to return here at a high price”, told AFP Maria Eugenia Carmona , a member of the scientific team. “We are confident that we can in our own country metalworking and become exporters of new products,” she says enthusiastically.

So far, the first experiments to make gold “Blue” had been tried in Italy, according to Colombian researchers. Their technique is to submit samples of 24k gold mixed with 20% other metals, to a thermal process of eight to ten hours in special ovens. After cooling, the material obtained, whose color has changed radically, is polite to take the appearance of a precious stone, and covered with a resin and then mounted on a ring, brooch or a pendant.

The color of the new jewel can span a wide range from white to blue, to the intense yellow, green, purple, when it does not take a coffee or fuchsia color. “It’s not gold paint or cover with any material to conceal his traditional colors are white, yellow or pink,” says Carmona. Through this process, the metal “does not only from red to blue or green, among others, but its commercial price increases dramatically,” comments she. According to proponents, the value of gold and transformed could reach five times its usual price.

Until the transformation process is patented, the gold jewelry have not yet been commercialized, although some samples have already been presented in trade.

Eladio Rey, a jeweler deemed the center of the capital Bogota, for its part the end result “wonderful for its innovative” and promises a bright future for the project developed by the Colombian university. “It is undoubtedly attractive to traders and buyers because of the diversity of colors, and more, if they are guaranteed a high quality metal,” says he told AFP. The initiative is good, because “it allows combinations with other gemstones,” according to the professional, which also sees a selling point in the label of a product “made in Colombia.”