If you’ve heard of composition gold leaf and thought, “What is composition gold leaf?” you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll detail the difference between composition gold leaf and genuine gold leaf, and how each is best used. From decorative materials to covering whole a surface area, there’s a practical application you can find for each gold leaf type.

If that sounds interesting to you, stick around. We’re getting started now!

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What Is A Composition Of Gold Leaf?

What Is the Composition of Gold Leaf?

The composition of gold leaf will vary depending on the type you select.

Gold leaf comes in various types, ranging from 100% pure gold leaf content to little to no gold at all. As you might imagine, there are pros and cons to all gold leaf types. Let’s take a closer look at each of these types for a better understanding of gold leaf, and which kind might prove the most suitable (and durable) for your project needs.

What Is Composition Gold Leaf

Composition gold leaf also goes by the name “imitation” gold leaf, dutch metal leaf, or dutch gold. Its use includes any project for which you’d like to add an extravagant gold sheen without having the need to spend extra on regular gold leaf.

Imitation gold leaf can sometimes come in edible varieties as well. However, it is important that you only consume metal leaf that is specially designated as “edible”; otherwise, you may end up consuming metal that could render harmful effects on your body.

What Is Imitation Gold Leaf Made of?

Imitation gold leaf, or Dutch gold, is made of a combination of metal types. These often include copper, brass, and zinc. Some manufacturers may use more of one type of metal than another to affect the color of the finished metal leaf. For example, some manufacturers will use more copper to create warmer gold tones when needed.

It is important to note that, unlike regular leaves whose gold content is pure, imitation leaves have the propensity to tarnish over time. Because of this, it is recommended that you use a varnish over the surfaces that you have used imitation gold to gild. This will preserve the surface and keep it from changing colors.

Is Gold Leaf Solid Gold?

Real gold leaf is another type of gold leaf you can purchase, and no, it isn’t considered composition.

Real gold leaf is entirely gold, and thus, contains no other metals except possibly a hint of silver in lower karat types. Real gold leaf is considered anything 23 karats or higher. This type of gold does not require varnish as does other metals, making it that much more appealing to those working on both exterior and interior projects.

How Much Gold Is in a Gold Leaf?

How much gold is actually in gold leaf depends on the type you buy. It generally ranges anywhere from 6 karat to 24 karat gold.

The 6 karat gold is considered white gold, while 24 karat gold is entirely pure gold. Remember that pure gold will be impervious to oxidation, while other gold types, particularly those under 23 karats, will become affected by oxidation as the time rolls on.

Because of these factors it is important to carefully choose which metals you use for gilding projects. Each has their pros and cons and some require certain parameters that others do not.

What Is A Composition Of Gold Leaf?

Will Composition Gold Metal Leaf Tarnish

Remember that composition gold metal will definitely tarnish if it is not finished with varnish of some sort. Thus, gilded projects should always be sealed with a top coat to preserve it. This is especially true if used for exterior projects. Also, all exterior projects must be applied with oil gilding methods. Never attempt to use water size outdoors as it is not feasible for outdoor weather.

Can I Use Composition Gold Leaf Outside?

You can use imitation gold leaf outside, but, as mentioned before, you’ll need to use oil size rather than water size to do so. If you opt to use real gold leaf square sheets outside instead, make sure that you do not use a sealant.

Doing so will actually cause your real gold to become discolored after a while, leaving behind an odd milky haze that will disrupt the natural beauty of your gilded surface.

Composition Gold Leaf vs True Gold: It’s Different!

Ultimately,while composition gold leaf and real gold leaf are both beautiful and useful materials to create stunning gilded surfaces, the truth is that the two are completely different. Composition gold is another name for imitation gold leaf and contains little to no gold at all. True gold, on the other hand, will typically be 23 karat to 24 karat gold, and will not require any varnish or sealant once applied to a surface.

We hope you’ve found this information helpful. Happy gilding!


Is gold leaf a compound?

Pure gold is an element and not a compound.

Can gold leaf rust?

Genuine gold leaf will never rust.

What kind of paint will go over the composition gold leaf?

Some have experienced success using oil paints over gold leaf paint. Do so only once the paint and varnish has dried.

Does silver leaf tarnish?

Yes. Unlike genuine gold leaf, genuine silver leaf may tarnish if there is no varnish applied to it once you’ve finished gilding the surface.

What is a patent leaf?

Patent leaf is another name for transfer leaf. It usually comes with a wax paper backing that makes it easier to apply to a flat surface than loose leaf.

Is imitation leaf really just a metal alloy?

Yes, imitation leaf is made of alloyed metals and lacks the purity that true gold metal contains. Still, you can find this type of leaf covering the surface of various decorative materials as it is a less costly option than pure metal leaf.

Is regular gold leaf pure gold?

“Regular” gold leaf may or may not refer to real gold leaf. To know for sure, look at the item description before purchasing. The purest metal leaf will be marked as genuine or will contain 23-24 karat gold.

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