Published: 04 Oct 2018

What goes behind making weavable, wearable, and washable gold?

All you need to know about a new fabric threaded in 24 karat gold

Over the past decade, the clothing industry has advanced greatly. Whether it is 3D-printed fabrics or IoT-based smart and interactive clothing, technology is revolutionising the world of fashion.

One such discovery was made in 2011 – the development of a new fabric threaded in 24 karat gold. After extensive research for over a decade, a team of Swiss engineers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology pioneered a way to weave gold into fabric. And the final gold fabric thus obtained was held together in such a way that it is weavable, wearable, and washable.

Though gold-plated fabric has had a special place in the wardrobe of royalties for centuries, this was the first time that threads made of pure gold have been woven together to form a fabric. The EMPA team claims this is the world’s first textile made of gold that will not wear out in the weaving and washing process.

Related: How gold is used in textiles

Putting it together

To make the gold fabric, the following process is followed :

  1. Sophisticated technology is used to break down a piece of gold into tiny fragments- so tiny that they are within the scale of nanometres
  2. A chunk of gold is bombarded with a stream of fast-moving argon ions, which remove individual metal atoms
  3. A gold-laden gas jet is then directed at the silk thread to coat it with a thin layer of gold
  4. The thread is then passed through a plasma stream

Use of the fabric

The fabric is currently used to make bowties, pocket handkerchiefs, and full-length ties. A standard necktie that contains about 8 grams of gold was said to be priced at 7500 Swiss francs (approximately USD 8500).

Built to last

Gold fabric is not only a display of elegance and luxury; it is also highly durable (since silk is used as the base fabric). It is flexible, wearable, and washable as well. Even the fabric’s shine and lustre is not compromised when washed.

Discovery of gold fabric is a valuable addition to the world of luxury clothing around the globe. And with the fast pace of technological advancements, it’s safe to assume that we’re going to be further surprised by developments that will be made in the future.

Related: How the meaning of gold has changed over time