Gold leaf has never truly gone out of style. It’s an excellent material to use if you want to upcycle furniture, add a touch of elegance to a piece of art, and, in some cases, can add some glitz to your favorite cocktail, too. But what is it about the gold leaf that makes it so luscious? Is it edible? Does it tarnish over time? Whatever you want to know about this imitation gold material, this article has got you covered.
What Is Gold Leaf?
This is real gold that has been turned into thin sheets using a particular hammering technique. Each gold leaf sheet is usually about 0.1 microns thick and comes in many different karats, colors, and sizes. However, a completely pure gold leaf should be 24 karats.
Gold leaf is most frequently used for gilding thanks to its high aesthetic properties. For example, you’ll often see real gold leaf used as a finishing step in the decorating process for furniture, picture frames, or as an accent for art prints because of its expensive appearance.
What Is Gilding?
This is an age-old decorative technique that consists of applying a thin sheet of gold (or another metal leaf such as copper or silver) to a specific surface. It results in a lustrous finish that elevates the viewer’s experience.
Is It Edible?
Pure gold is biologically inert which means it can be eaten without causing any damage to your digestive tract. However, not all gold leaf is edible—some leaves might contain more impurities that could make you very sick.
Types Of Gold Leaf
Gold leaf can be found in shades varying from silver to yellow, and also comes in a variety of different karats.
If other metals mix with the gold then the gold leaf will change shade or color. An increased amount of palladium or silver will make the leaf whiter whereas the addition of copper will turn it a darker shade of red.
24-karat gold leaf is the purest type available and is typically yellow. In 12-karat gold leaf, its purity will reduce to 50%, with all remaining metal usually being silver. This particular gold leaf is called “white gold.”
For example, 22 karat gold leaf that is made using palladium rather than copper will be much paler. This is referred to as “moon gold.”
Imitation gold leaf, or “Dutch Leaf,” on the other hand, consists of zinc and copper and shares lots of similarities with aluminum foil. Unlike a pure gold leaf, this will slowly tarnish and change color over time.
Main Uses Of Gold Leaf
As an interior ornamental feature, gilding has regularly been used to accentuate particular details to draw the viewer’s attention to the sheer grandeur of the area.
Notably, gilded decoration using gold leaf remains a prominent practice in liturgical art to this day and can be seen in many temples, churches, and mosques all around the world.
A lot of buildings were set up in the US using gilding; some of which still stand today. This occurred in the mid-19th century, just after the civil war.
Gold leaf is an ornate addition to any piece of art. It’s been utilized in many art practices for centuries and was once used solely to wrap an object without the need for gilding.
One of the most prominent oldest examples of gold leaf decoration is a necklace that dates all the way back to the 15th century. Nowadays, artists will intricate gold leaf decorations in many things such as paintings or as an embellishment for physical prints.
As it is so widely used, it’s easily accessible and can be purchased from a variety of hobby stores.
Some gold leaf can be very safe to eat (provided it is labeled as “edible” or is completely pure.) This means it is sought after by high-end bakeries and restaurants around the world. These establishments will use edible gold leaves to garner their most delightful creations; from full meals to single pastries.
Is It Expensive?
Contrary to popular belief, gold leaf is relatively inexpensive! You can purchase packs of 25 or 100 sheets for very little. But if you find this to be too expensive, you can bulk buy sheets of imitation gold or gold leaf flakes instead. This depends on the project.
Gold leaf is an instrumental decorative material that has been around for centuries. With intricate interior designs making a comeback in recent years, gold leaf is as popular as ever.