What Is Gold Leaf and Can It Be Recycled?

Since ancient times, artisans have been hammering gold into very thin sheets and applying it to a variety of surfaces. Thanks to gold’s softness and malleability, even a few ounces of the precious metal have been used to cover large surfaces such as church walls, picture frames, as well as the backgrounds of religious icons and renaissance paintings. 

 Shown: Gold coins and a pack of 100 gold leaves from Bangkok, Thailand. Each gold leaf is less than a micrometer thick (typically about 100 nm) and is so light and delicate that the smallest puff of air can blow it away.

Shown: Gold coins and a pack of 100 gold leaves from Bangkok, Thailand. Each gold leaf is less than a micrometer thick (typically about 100 nm) and is so light and delicate that the smallest puff of air can blow it away.

In the ancient world, hammers were used to beat pure 24-karat gold into leaf. Over time, more sophisticated manufacturing processes have been developed to produce extremely thin layers of gold, and those films have been used to cover even bigger surfaces.

Can Gold Be Extracted from Gold-Plated Objects?

If you have a large number of gold-plated picture frames, for example, can they be recycled? In most cases, the answer to that question is no – even a large gold-leaf-covered frame can contain only a very small amount of gold or gold alloy. Plus, the process of removing the gold from wooden or other surfaces is complex and costly.

But you may also have some object on hand that could contain more gold than you expect, such as older gilt jewelry or statuary. If you have gold-leaf-covered objects and don’t know what they might be worth, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344.  We’ll be happy to talk with you and help you understand their value.

It can be possible to extract gold from a variety of gold-leafed items, including…

  • Interiors of churches and other buildings where gold leaf has been used on altars, walls and columns, and other architectural elements.
  • Older gold-leafed metal frames found in museums and antique stores.
  • Mosaics, where gold leaf has been applied to tiles or put between layers of glass to create an impression of richness or light.
  • Old statuary, which was sometimes covered with gold leaf to create the impression that it was made of solid gold.

Want to Know More? Speak with Our Gold Recycling Consultants Today

We are here to answer your questions about recycling gold profitably. Call 800-426-2344 for a free complimentary phone consultation.

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