It takes years to learn how to create gold leaf. It’s a complicated process with 10 different stages. Part of this includes beating sheets of gold repeatedly with hammers. It’s hard work but the result is gold which is so thin you can crumble it just by touching it.
Of course, there are machines that do the work today, but they still can’t make the gold as thin as the specialists, such as manetti.com who have been doing this for hundreds of years.
What gold leaf is used for
Originally, gold was considered the color of the gods. Only those with immense wealth and power could afford or use gold leaf. That’s people like the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt who were seen as close to the gods.
Gold leaf was applied to statues, perhaps the most famous is the chryselephantine statues. Many have not survived the evolution of humanity.
Gold leaf was also used in sculptures and paintings, a trend that continues today. However, in modern society gold leaf is also crumbled into food, painted into hair, and used to adorn clothing. In fact, uses for gold leaf seem to be almost limitless.
Why it’s considered a luxury
Gold stands out, it’s durable, catches the light, and transforms almost anything into a thing of beauty. That means people are drawn to it. This is the reason so many examples of gold leaf exist, such as the famous picture of Naomi Campbell covered with gold leaf.
However, while gold leaf is cheaper than solid gold, it is still fairly expensive. This is partly due to the cost of gold, a limited commodity, and partly thanks to the time and effort it takes to make it.
This cost and limited availability work well for the luxury industry:
Gold remains a rare substance and something that most people desire. This makes it perfect for the luxury market as they want to attract buyers.
Luxury industries know this and use it to make their products seem less obtainable, making them even more desirable.
When demand outstrips supply, the supplier can charge almost anything and still sell the product. For the luxury industry, adding gold leaf instantly increases demand and the cost of an item.
Because gold was historically only available to those with wealth and power, maintaining this status is instrumental to the ongoing success of the luxury industry. An industry which was worth over $300 billion in 2021.
The luxury industry wants to attract the wealthiest customers. This allows them to charge higher prices, effectively making them luxury products.
Of course, the price needs to be justified and the addition of gold leaf makes this easier. In short, the luxury industry needs gold leaf to help create the allure and demand which fuels the industry.