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Gold is a precious and highly prized soft metal, which is of a bright, slightly reddish colour in its purest form. Gold has been prized as a material since ancient times on account of its rarity and distinctive golden colouring, and has been used extensively for precious jewellery and other decorative arts since its discovery.
In addition to being used in its pure form, gold is frequently used in combination with other materials. The primary purpose of this is usually for the high quality gilding of furniture and other decorative objects, such as vases.
Gold leaf, which refers to gold that has been hammered into thin sheets by the process of gold beating, is perhaps the most well know example of gold being used as an addition to other materials.
For 18th and 19th Century antiques, ormolu - rather than gold leaf - was the most common form of golden gilding. The term ormolu has been used since the 18th Century, and refers to the technique by which high-carat, thinly ground gold is applied to bronze objects, to produce a stunning, golden coloured finish.
Giltwood is similar to the ormolu technique, but refers instead to wooden pieces that have a thin layer of gold leaf applied to them. Giltwood frames and mounted furniture are of a deep golden hue, creating an atmosphere of elegance and luxury in interior spaces.
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