Gold leaf: what is it, what it looks like, is it real

There are many uses for precious metals around the world. One of the most interesting is gold leaf or tinsel. If you stick a thin sheet of this metal to some thing, it will seem that it is completely made of gold.

What does gold leaf look like and what is its composition

Gold leaf is the thinnest sheets of yellow gold. Their thickness can reach only 100 nanometers, which equates to 0,00001 centimeters. In most cases, tinsel is used for decorative purposes, but it has also found application in the field of beauty and health.

Since gold leaf is too thin and does not have sharp edges, it is added to some cosmetic products, such as anti-aging creams.

And do not think that such gold is a rarity. In fact, anyone can buy it in the store for creativity. Moreover, the price of such a decorative element will not be too high.

The texture of such sheets can be completely different. Smooth gold is the most popular, but there are also sheets with scuffs and folds on sale. With the help of such tinsel, you can give things the effect of antiquity, decorate them in a vintage style. Since the range of sheets is quite large, everyone can choose the option that most closely matches the idea.

The color of the material may also vary. Depending on the composition and sample of the metal, there are yellow, white, green and even red sheets. For example, tinsel of 22 carats boasts a slight greenish tint. And if you see tinsel with a barely noticeable yellowness, then you have 18 carat white gold.

The composition may include the following components:

  • silver;
  • copper;
  • zinc;
  • aluminum.

Basically, manufacturers add these metals, as they give the alloy hardness, strength and the appropriate color.

Gold leaf is usually sold in the form of books, since the whole sheet is not injured. But there are several more options that can be found in stores:

  • powder;
  • flakes;
  • rolls.

This variety allows you to experiment more with the use of tinsel. With its help, decorate furniture, cakes, paintings and much more.

What is the difference between real gold leaf and real gold leaf

Many people may think that there is a huge difference between these two materials. In fact, gold leaf differs from ordinary gold only in the name, appearance and scope.

To make the difference between the two materials more understandable, it is better to disassemble in more detail:

  1. Name - with this it seems like everything is clear. Ordinary yellow gold, which we meet in the form of jewelry or ingots, is called so. But the thin sheets used for decoration and gilding are called "tinsel".
  2. Appearance - classical gold is usually presented in the form of objects (for example, jewelry) or nuggets. But the leaf is the thinnest sheets that you can’t even hold in your hands. If they are lifted too sharply, they can break.
  3. Scope - Ingots or jewelry are made from ordinary gold, but non-gold objects are decorated with the help of tinsel.

Of course, you will not find gold leaf in the form of nuggets in the bowels of nature. However, this is a product that is obtained from ordinary gold, so it can also be considered "real". And not just anyhow, but also of a rather high standard. However, there are sheets that are made without the addition of gold. They are cheaper and only imitate real tinsel.

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What sample

Many European countries are engaged in the production of gold leaf. At the same time, companies are required to adhere to certain quality standards.

If the product does not meet the established standards, it is considered unsuitable for sale.

All gold leaf is produced according to two types of standards:

  1. Russian - which is also reduced to RS.
  2. European - denoted in the form of the EU.

Consider these requirements in more detail, because they regulate the quality of products.

When making tinsel in Russia, all companies must take into account the relevant GOSTs. They accurately indicate the percentage of components and the sample of the metal. The material standard in Russia is 960 assay or 23 carats.

The coating composition for Russian tinsel is made according to the following formula:

  • 96% Gold;
  • 1% Copper;
  • 1% Silver;
  • 2% other components.

Such gold is sold in the form of books, each of which contains 60 sheets. Each piece of gold leaf is fixed on a special paper that prevents possible damage. So it is convenient not only to store, but also to transport the precious metal.

European products are more diverse. For example, the well-known company Noris produces tinsel in the form of sheets, a color card and powder.

The color card is a set of several different sheets of gold leaf. Each of them differs in color and, accordingly, breakdown. In such a set you will find tinsel from 23,75 to 15 carats or even less.

You can choose not only the thickness, but also the shade of gold leaf, which largely depends on the sample. The following sheet options are the most popular:

But the powder is presented in only one version - 23 carats. With the help of such small gold leaf, small relief items can be decorated.

How do

They make gold leaf from ordinary gold. To do this, take a small ingot of metal, heat it and roll it into a “sausage”. Then it is cut into small pieces. They are laid with special paper, which prevents the fragments from connecting to each other. These pieces are blanks for future sheets of gold leaf.

After that, the parts are collected in piles, each can contain about three hundred blanks. Further, these stacks fall under the hammer, which inflicts up to two thousand blows. The hammer works until each of the blanks turns into a cake, whose thickness is only a few microns. A little later, squares are cut out of these cakes and put into special books.

Surprisingly, about 1 square meters of gold leaf can be obtained from 18 gram of the alloy.

There are three options for the production of gold leaf:

  1. Manual mode - it is also called historical, because this is how gold leaf was made before. In this case, the raw material is beaten off by the “gold digger” with a hammer, inflicting identical blows on the entire stack. This is a very hard job, which has its drawbacks. Since the work is done by the eye of the master, it is simply impossible to make even sheets.
  2. semi-automatic way - this is a more modern technology, which is still led by a person. With this method, an automatic hammer beats off gold under the close supervision of a master. It is he who moves the workpiece under the hammer and removes it when he sees fit.
  3. Automatic way - the most popular technology for the production of tinsel today. Sheets are made using specially programmed systems that accurately track every step of production. It is believed that this is how the products of the highest quality are obtained. This method is actively used by factories in Italy and Germany.
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The production of gold leaf is a very laborious and long process. There are many nuances on which the quality of the resulting product depends.

Is it possible to eat gold leaf

Cooking is one of those areas where gold leaf is very popular. Such an unusual decoration has been used around the world for more than a decade. Confectioners paid special attention to shiny sheets, who use them to complement their exquisite sweets.

It turns out that when ingested, gold leaf cannot cause any harm. Too thin sheets cannot scratch, and there is nothing in the composition that can cause allergies. It is for this reason that it is considered edible and is used to decorate dishes.

Regardless of the form (sheets, powder or flakes), tinsel is considered safe for humans. On its basis, even a food supplement is made - E175.

Food can be completely covered with gold leaf or only partially decorated - it depends on the chef's imagination. Precious metal looks great with different products. Decorate with:

  • cakes and other pastries;
  • ice cream;
  • rolls and sushi;
  • meat and fish;
  • baked vegetables and much more.

A dish decorated with gold leaf can be ordered at a restaurant or an elite cafe. This practice is very popular.

Particles of gold decorate not only food and desserts. Some restaurants serve drinks sprinkled with gold powder. Such jewelry looks especially solemn at a wedding.

Do not think that eating gold began only in our time.

In Japan, golden leaves are eaten to improve health and preserve youth.

There is an opinion that tinsel has a positive effect on heart function and improves digestion.

How is gold leaf applied

Thin gold sheets are mainly used for decorative purposes and art creations. Artists often use tinsel to make their paintings more luxurious and spectacular.

With the help of gold particles, you can achieve a noticeable play of light.

But the coating is used not only for beauty. In fact, gold can extend the life of many products, as it serves as a reliable protection against corrosion, dust particles and moisture.

Gilding with gold leaf is a rather complex and delicate process that must be approached with all caution. Even one careless action can spoil the entire work of the wizard.

Remember that the sheets should never be taken with your hands, otherwise they will simply tear. To transfer gold, you need to use special tools.

For this procedure you will need:

  • suede pillow - on it you can carefully cut the sheet and carefully detach it from the paper;
  • special knife - it is very sharp and has an appropriate shape;
  • lampenzel - a wide flat brush, which is necessary for carrying an almost weightless precious sheet to the surface or to the pillow;
  • agate - natural stone is used to polish the product to a shine. The agate tool has a smooth tip and a comfortable handle. Sometimes, in order not to displace the gold leaf, they polish it not with agate, but with a cotton cloth.

The traditional gilding method is suitable for even and smooth surfaces. Surface preparation technology consists of the following 4 points:

  1. Ready-to-use primer-gesso (special material) must be applied in three layers. The first layer should be more liquid so that it is better absorbed, and the rest should resemble yogurt in consistency. Between each layer you need to wait at least an hour, and the last one should dry for about 6-8 hours.
  2. Then it is necessary to grind the surface with abrasive paper P240, P400.
  3. Cover the entire product with one layer of shellac to bind dust. This must be done with a brush.
  4. After drying, sand the surface with P600 abrasive paper.
  5. As soon as the product is prepared, you can proceed to the gilding itself. Gold leaf should be transferred to the pillow, cut with a knife into small pieces. The dried coating must be wiped with a solution of water and alcohol. Until the liquid has dried, you need to use the lampenzel to transfer the pieces to the surface and overlap. Thanks to the above procedures, the tinsel lies flat. The excess is swept over with a goat hair brush. If the gold is stuck, you can start polishing.
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You can also use special glue. In this case, you need to apply with a brush an aqueous or oil emulsion for gluing the sheet. Then carefully take the gold and cover the surface with it. It is necessary to press it with a brush so as not to move from the right place.

The next day, be sure to polish the coating with a cotton cloth.

Why is it called "leaf"

For the first time, gold leaf was made in China several thousand years ago. The production was, although physically difficult, but not very difficult, because the gold metal is very soft and easily succumbs to pressure. It was in this country that they began to cover furniture and other objects with the thinnest sheets of almost pure gold.

The technology became more and more famous around the world and at some point became popular in Russia, where it was called "tinsel". What does the phrase "gold leaf" mean? Literally, this name means “face gold” (since the word “tinsel” was translated as “face”), which is quite logical. Only the front side of the objects was covered with thin sheets, since it was considered pointless to spend precious metal on something that no one would see.

Gold leaf price: how much does a leaf cost

The cost of gold leaf directly depends on the rate of precious metals. The higher the price for 1 gram of gold today, the more expensive the sheet of tinsel will cost.

Now one square of 16x16 centimeters of European-made gold leaf will cost 2 euros.

But those buyers who need more volume are accustomed to buying tinsel in the form of books. Manufacturers have several options:

  1. 23 carat gold leaf in the form of a book. The number of sheets is 60, the ligature weight is 1 gram. The dimensions of each sheet are 91,5 x 91,5 centimeters. This set costs a little more. 90 euro.
  2. A book with the same characteristics, but with more weight. In this case, the ligature weight is 1,25 grams. It would seem that the difference is only a quarter of a gram, but the cost has increased to 100 евро.
  3. Again, 23 carat gold leaf, also 60 sheets of the same size, but the weight is already 1,4 grams. The price is now 90 евро.

You can find gold leaf in special stores, for example, with products for creativity.

Gold leaf - the thinnest sheets of real gold, which are of value in our time. With the help of tinsel, furniture, works of art and even culinary masterpieces are decorated. And although at first glance it seems that only real masters can do the gilding process, everyone can try to cover a picture or photo frame with tinsel. All you need is gold leaf, tools and a great desire to create.

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