Gilding is the art of applying metal, mainly gold or silver leaf to a surface. The art of gilding is quite ancient and was known to the Egyptians. They were accustomed of gilding by means of gold plates and this is mentioned even in the Old Testament. Gilding has always occupied a significant place in the ornamental arts of Oriental countries. According to the Pliny the Elder, the first gilding was seen at Rome after the destruction of Carthage.

Gilding is done in various forms and methods like copper gilding which is used for the decoration of temple and other large buildings. Water gilding is the traditional way of gilding wood, oil gilding is the process of building exteriors and modern gilding is applied to frame making and gilding of pottery and porcelain. All these different techniques require different materials and involve different steps. The gesso which is applied before gilding should be chosen appropriate.

The appearance of gilded materials depends on several factors like the grades and shades of the gold leaf. The other main influence on appearance is surface coating. Silver leafs are always varnished to prevent tarnishing, but in recent times it has been replaced by palladium and several non-tarnishing materials.

Gilded objects need to be taken special care of as they are likely to get damaged when exposed to the daily environment. Gilded wooden objects should be protected from pests and moulds. Gilded objects should be prevented from daily washing and cleaning or spray polishing.

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