Everything's Coming Up Gold

Maoyou Liu seems to have acquired a Midas touch. When he arrived in the United States from China a dozen years ago, he was a humble UCLA student. But these days he owns a factory in downtown L.A. and his business card says, "Living Gold Co. / Manufacturer Fresh Flowers & Leaves Dipped in 24K Gold."

Even though his products look like objects that the mythical King Midas may have touched, Liu claims no magical powers. Instead, he credits a manufacturing process of his own creation, plus the diligence of his wife, Lin, and a crew of 30 workers who have been with him for years.

Each week they transform 1,500 fresh roses, plus selected examples of nearly 100 other species of flora, into golden tokens of affection. The process culminates with the flowers and leaves being immersed in an electroplating tank and coated with 99.2% pure 24-karat gold. And the process is so gentle it can be used on leaves as delicate as a four-leaf clover, cypress--even parsley.

The resulting product weighs more than a fresh flower or leaf, however, because an undercoat of copper and nickel is applied before the gold goes on. If the product was gold through and through, Liu notes wryly, "retailers would have to charge $1,000 instead of $40 to $150.

"Valentine's Day is our big season," Liu says. "We have been working seven-day weeks since December, and we still can't fill all the orders we get from our distributors."

Liu does not sell his products to the public but will refer inquiries to one of the specialty retailers who carry Living Gold's products. For information, call (213) 748-2998.

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