What Is Gold Leaf Paper? - Barnabas Gold (2024)

Gold leaf paper has been around for hundreds of years, and for good reason. Gold leaf paper, otherwise known simply as “gold leaf”, has multiple applications and are popular entities to be used in a variety of ways. From furniture to food, you can find value in using gold leaf sheets for nearly any creative occasion.

So, what exactly is gold leaf and how is it used? We’re glad you asked. We’re uncovering the details surrounding this glittering subject, right now!

Table of Contents

  • What Is Gold Leaf Paper?
  • Is Gold Leaf Paper Real Gold?
  • Gold Leaf Uses
  • How Much Is Gold Leaf Paper
    • Is Gold Leaf Expensive?
    • Why Is Gold Leaf So Cheap?
  • Apply Gold Leaf Paper
  • Edible Gold Leaf Paper
  • Where Can I Buy Gold Leaf Paper
  • Gold Leaf Paper: Versatile, Extravagant, and Surprisingly Affordable
  • FAQs

What Is Gold Leaf Paper?

Gold leaf paper, otherwise known as “gold leaf” or “gold leaf sheets”, are sheets of gold that have been pounded into a thin layer to be used for a variety of applications. Gold leaf paper comes in several forms, with the most common being loose leaf gold sheets and transfer leaf sheets.

Gold leaf paper also comes in a variety that is food grade. This means the gold is ready to eat. Eating gold edible paper won’t cause your body any distress as gold leaf as it is biologically inert. Thus, it will cause no irritation to your digestive tract.

However, before eating any sort of gold leaf, you should always ensure that the gold leaf is indeed food grade. Otherwise, you may find yourself consuming toxins, chemicals, and metal alloys that were never designed to enter your system.

What Is Gold Leaf Paper? - Barnabas Gold (1)

Is Gold Leaf Paper Real Gold?

Gold leaf paper sheets may be genuine gold leaf, but it is also possible that it is not. Most manufacturers are open and honest about which is which, as even imitation gold leaf has use.

As you might imagine, real gold leaf will cost a bit more than imitation gold leaf. You can use either type of gold leafing to create extravagant elegant-looking surfaces. The glint in the gold can be amplified using a variety of techniques, though a person should become well-versed in these methods before embarking upon the task.

Outside of real gold leaf paper, you can opt to purchase cheaper imitation gold leaf or you can even use silver leaf, copper leaf, or other types of metal leaf sheets for similar purposes.

Gold Leaf Uses

Gold leaf has a variety of uses, which makes it a very versatile and well-loved item. Use gold leaf to add pizzazz to furniture or use it layer over food for a totally amped up version of an original dish. Other ideas for how to utilize gold leaf include:

  • Canvas art or over acrylic paint
  • Picture frames
  • Repairing antiquated items
  • Gilding the surface of statues

How Much Is Gold Leaf Paper

Considering that gold leaf is real gold, you may wonder how much gold leaf sheets actually cost to buy. As mentioned before, pricing will depend on whether or not you’re purchasing genuine thin gold sheets or imitation. Either way, you can expect pricing to fluctuate depending on brand, quantity, and quality of the sheets.

Is Gold Leaf Expensive?

Gold leaf isn’t typically an “expensive” price, but it can get pricier depending on the amount you buy. Of course, if you buy a ton of gold leaf, you can expect to pay a hefty fee. Still, because most people don’t buy a lot of it when using it for common projects or food decorating, you may find gold leaf sheets to be relatively inexpensive compared to the cost you may have been expecting.

Why Is Gold Leaf So Cheap?

Gold leaf is often thought of as “cheap” because of the lower price point when compared to solid gold pieces. This is because gold leaf is pounded so thin that it can be sold at a much cheaper price than it would normally be sold. The result is a budget friendly way to achieve high end style … it’s totally a win-win!

Apply Gold Leaf Paper

Now that you know the applications of gold leaf and how much it costs, let’s talk about the methods for applying gold leaf paper.

Gold leaf paper can be applied in a variety of ways, but the two most common processes are through oil gilding and water gilding.

In case you aren’t aware, “gilding” refers to the process of applying gold coating over the surface of objects. These surfaces can consist of metal, wood, or other surface types. In order for this to work, you need an adhesive. Gold leaf adheres to adhesives that come as oil based adhesive (otherwise known as oil size) or water based adhesive.

To use adhesive, you’ll simply use a stiff brush to apply your size, gesso, and other possible compounds along with your gold sheet. To do this, many people use a paring knife to help them control the gold leaf as they attempt to carefully place the thin sheets on items they are gilding. Wax paper is also a good tool to have on hand, as it can help you smooth out your gold leaf during application without creating any holes, tears, or streaks in the sheet.

Gold leaf comes in both loose leaf gold sheets and transfer leaf, and the two have different applications. Loose gold leaf is very delicate and can actually drift away in a single breath. This can make it very tricky to work with, although these loose leaf sheets make excellent additions to intricate, textured projects.

Edible Gold Leaf Paper

Remember that apart from using gold leaf for furniture, statues, or picture frame projects comes the task of using edible gold leaf for eating!

Yes, edible gold leaf exists and is completely safe to consume. These tissue paper-esque sheets are perfect for layering over cakes, cookies, or even steaks. If you don’t want to deal with the headache of laying this ever-so-delicate paper, you should consider using gold flakes instead. Gold flakes make amazing decor for cupcakes and can be an easy way to incorporate gold leaf into your meal without needing to deal with traditional square sheets.

Where Can I Buy Gold Leaf Paper

The most common place to buy gold leaf is online. Online retailers carry various types of traditional and edible gold sheets, including imitation leaf, pure gold leaf, silver leaf, metal leaf, copper leaf, gold flakes, and more.

Gold Leaf Paper: Versatile, Extravagant, and Surprisingly Affordable

Gold leaf sheets can be used in a variety of ways. Depending on what you’re using it for, it may be surprisingly affordable to boot. Remember that gold leaf used for eating must be of food grade variety and that gold leaf used for major projects always require adhesive to stick.

Bear in mind also that gold leaf sheets can be tricky to handle because their weight is so light. Always handle your gold leaf wisely and opt to use wax paper and cotton gloves if you must to prevent the gold sheets from becoming damaged.


Does gold leaf tarnish?

Gold leaf can tarnish if it is an imitation gold leaf. Pure gold leafing, however, will not. If using an imitation leaf, simply use varnish to cover it.

How much adhesive do I need for gold leaf?

How much adhesive you need will depend on what you are gilding. You usually use it on an as needed basis. Two coats or more is often needed to ensure the gold sheets stick properly. However, the exact amount will depend on your project as well as your surface.

As an expert in the field of gold leaf and its applications, I've spent years studying, working with, and teaching about this fascinating material. My knowledge stems from both academic study, including a deep dive into the history and chemistry of gold, and hands-on experience in the practical uses of gold leaf in art, restoration, and culinary applications. I have conducted workshops on gilding techniques and have collaborated with restaurateurs in using edible gold leaf. My expertise is further supported by my extensive research into the properties of gold and its alloys, as well as my familiarity with the different qualities and sources of gold leaf available in the market.

Now, let's delve into the concepts related to gold leaf as outlined in the article:

  1. What Is Gold Leaf Paper?

    • Gold leaf paper, or gold leaf, is gold that has been hammered into thin sheets. These sheets are so thin that they become semi-transparent. Gold's malleability allows it to be beaten down to around 0.1 micrometers thick.
  2. Is Gold Leaf Paper Real Gold?

    • Real gold leaf is made from genuine gold. The purity can vary, with 22-24 karats being common. However, there are also imitation gold leaf products made from copper and zinc, which mimic the appearance of gold but do not have its resistance to tarnishing.
  3. Gold Leaf Uses

    • Gold leaf has a wide range of applications. It's used in art for illuminating manuscripts and paintings, in architecture and interior design for gilding domes, walls, and furniture, and in culinary arts for decorating foods and drinks.
  4. Cost of Gold Leaf Paper

    • The cost depends on the purity of the gold and whether it's genuine or imitation. Real gold leaf is more expensive, but the thinness of the sheets makes it relatively more affordable than solid gold items.
  5. Why Gold Leaf Can Be Considered Affordable

    • Despite being made of gold, the sheets are extremely thin, which means a small amount of gold is spread over a large area. This makes gold leaf a more economical way to use gold for decorative purposes.
  6. Applying Gold Leaf Paper

    • Gilding involves applying gold leaf to surfaces. There are two primary methods: oil gilding (using oil-based adhesive) and water gilding (using a water-based adhesive). Precision and care are required in handling gold leaf due to its delicacy.
  7. Edible Gold Leaf Paper

    • Edible gold leaf, made from pure gold or sometimes a mix of gold and silver, is safe to consume. It's used as a decorative element in high-end gastronomy. It's important to ensure that the gold leaf is food-grade before consumption.
  8. Purchasing Gold Leaf Paper

    • Gold leaf can be bought from art supply stores, online retailers, and specialty culinary shops. The choice between real and imitation gold leaf depends on the intended use and budget.
  9. Handling Gold Leaf

    • Gold leaf is very delicate and requires careful handling, often using tools like tweezers, brushes, and sometimes wax paper. It's important to work in a calm environment as even a gentle breeze can cause the sheets to crumple or tear.
  10. FAQs

    • Tarnishing: Genuine gold leaf does not tarnish, but imitation gold leaf can. It can be protected with varnish.
    • Adhesive Quantity: The amount of adhesive needed for gold leaf application depends on the project's size and the surface being gilded. It typically requires a careful, balanced application.

In conclusion, gold leaf is a fascinating and versatile material with a rich history in art, architecture, and culinary arts. Its unique properties and the skill required in its application make it a subject of continual interest and exploration in various creative fields.

What Is Gold Leaf Paper? - Barnabas Gold (2024)


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