Leaf gold: what it is, composition, grade, production of various forms of leaf gold, range of two standards, unusual use

The average consumer is used to perceiving gold solely as jewelry. However, metal is involved in many other areas. One of them is the decoration of elements of furniture, household items, architecture and even the finishing of buildings, with the help of technologies where the use of gold leaf gold.

Susal - what does it mean: the origin, definition of the word and its meaning

Gold leaf - what it is few people know, because its widespread use in the modern world began relatively recently. The metal is the thinnest sheets that can be coated on different materials, creating a gilding effect.

The first mention of this material was found several thousand years ago in China. Popularity of this type of gold was due to its easy production. Due to its natural softness and malleability, thin solid sheets could easily be poured from the metal.

Gold leaf
Gold decor paper

Then the ancient peoples of Egypt, India and Greece learned about the metal and its use. As early as the 10th century, sussal began to be produced in Russia. At that time, work with this type of gold was a separate craft, which was used to decorate interiors, many household items, architecture.

The name gold leaf comes from the old Russian word sussal (which means face), as such sheets were covered exclusively on the front side of various objects.

Shape, Sample and Properties of the precious metal

Gold leaf corresponding to 960 Samplewhich allows him to differ a warm flame-yellow hue, resembling as much as possible the color natural metal. It is this the sample is secured by GOST. В Composition material includes:

  • gold - 960 gr;
  • copper - 10 gr;
  • silver - 10 gr;
  • other ingredients - 20 gr.
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These components give the coating the necessary hardness, durability. Today on sale, the mosaic is available in the form of:

  • sheets;
  • powders;
  • flakes.

Susal sheets: type and thickness

The gold leaf, the composition of which varies only due to the ratio of the proportion of the base metal to the proportion of impurities, can have several shades: pale yellow, white, reddish, orange, greenish. This variety is also achieved through the addition of small amounts of cadmium, palladium and nickel. Sheet gold is very thin, not exceeding 0.5 micron in thickness. Sheet gold is most commonly used to decorate household items and paintings. Recently, it has begun to be used in beauty care and medicine.

Susal sheets: type and thickness
Susal sheets of different kinds

Standards of gold leaf, composition: European and Russian, chemical formula

The formula used to produce domestic and imported gold leaf is the same. But the standards and legal requirements for the manufacturing process, without compliance with which the product is not allowed for sale, are different.  

The Russian standard is denoted by the symbols RS. The product is produced in accordance with GOST, which clearly prescribes the composition, the number of components and assay. Susal is in the form of books of 60 sheets.

The European product contains an EU mark, which indicates the foreign origin of the product. The law specifies that precious books must have 25 sheets of 80x80mm.

Chemical formula regardless of the manufacturer remains the same. Sousal alloy includes such components:

  • gold;
  • silver;
  • copper;
  • aluminum;
  • zinc.

Gold leaf forgeries

Susal is composed almost entirely of pure noble metal and the cost of such a coating is quite high. That is why the real expensive precious metal began to be replaced by cheaper analogues.

Gold leaf standards, composition
Applying gold leaf

Existing types of substitutes:

  • Doppelganger is characterized by a large number of silver in. Gold is layered on top of silver.
  • Talma - a leaf layer is layered on top of copper.
  • Potash - this method allows you to simulate a gold plating without the addition of precious metals. It is made using copper and aluminum (sometimes copper and zinc). In addition, a layer of varnish is required to protect the coating from corrosion damage.
  • Mousse gold (tin sulfide) is a method of creating a gilding effect using metallized paint. This special alloy contains a mixture of sulfur and tin, with no noble metals added.
  • Titanium nitride - makes the gold plating durable and well protected from external factors. Using nitrogen, it is possible to slightly change the tone of the gilding.
  • Gold-plated foil - is used relatively recently. The composition contains copper, nickel and cobalt.

Methods of making the leafs

The production of suli is a long and rather complicated process. The final quality of the finished product depends on compliance with the peculiarities of the technology. Today there are several ways of making gold leaf:

  • manual;
  • semi-automated;
  • automated.
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The historical manual way

The manual method was invented by ancient peoples, due to which it is now called historical. The fabrication of the gesso sheets is done with a hammer. The craftsman makes equal strokes on the entire surface of the precious metal until the desired thickness of 0.5 microns is achieved. Such a process is physically demanding and time-consuming. The disadvantage of this method is working by eye. Craftsmen could not make an equally even and flat sheet.

The Russian Standard brand of Noris
Leaf gold leaf

Automated process

This method is semi-automated, thanks to the use of modern technology. The manufacturing process is still managed by a man, but the sheets are beaten off by an automated hammer. The foreman's job in this case is to move the sheet in the right direction, replacing the precious plates in a timely manner.

Fully programmed robotic process

The automated process is considered a modern manufacturing method used by manufacturers. Automation means the use of robotics in the production process, which can be programmed to perform specific actions. This method makes it possible to produce high-quality sheets with the same parameters.

The process of making the leafs

In order to obtain sheets of susali, ordinary gold is needed. The precious ingot is heated, given a cylindrical shape, and then cut into small circles. Each piece is the future gold leaf. Each circle is separated from the other with a piece of paper.

All the ingots cut into pieces are gathered in a pile, which is placed under the automatic hammer. The force of the hammer blows gradually turns the pieces into cakes of the desired thickness. Based on the number of pieces, the hammer may strike up to 2,000 times. The resulting sheet is trimmed, giving the shape of a square, forming a book.

It is worth saying that for the production of 20 square meters of dryer is enough to use a little more than 1 gram of precious metal.

The cost of gold leaf

It is impossible to say exactly how much a mosaic costs. The factories that produce it form the price based on their own manufacturing and shipping costs. The price of pure gold is initially formed on the London Stock Exchange. This figure determines the cost of alloys of other samples, such as 960. And hence dried in any form.

The cost of gold leaf
Gold leaf gilding

Gold leaf grades

Manufacturers now offer a large selection of multi-purpose mosaic coatings. Also many foreign suppliers offer their products for ordering via the Internet with delivery to Lipetsk, Ufa, Minsk, Samara, St. Petersburg and other remote points of Russia.

German Noris gold leaf coating

One of the most famous manufacturers of sousali is the German company Noris. It is engaged in supplying precious products to Russia and offers a wide range of choices for ordering through its online store.

Pure palladium Noris

Pure Palladium by Noris is available in a 25 page 80x80mm book. This coating is easily polished, protects the surface from corrosion damage, but is intended only for interior decoration. The price of such goods is up to 3 thousand rubles.

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Pure palladium Noris
Palladium leaf

Noris "Color Chart" leaf coating

To decorate the interior, the German color chart is ideal. It allows you to make the covered surface even more bright, unusual. Gold is available in sheets ranging in width from 3 to 110 mm to order. Susal sheets are arranged on tissue paper. They are used to cover long surfaces in the process of decoration. The only disadvantage - the product is available only for individual order. Its cost is from 2200 rubles.

Noris Gold Powder

It is easy enough to cover flat objects with sheet elements, but the problem arises when there are roughnesses and various curves. Then the gold powder TM Noris becomes particularly important. It refers to a 23-carat product, is a finely dispersed precious powder of the highest standard. Buyers are offered to buy in jars of 2 or 10 grams. The material is used to coat irregular objects, and is often used for gilding paintwork. In this case, the powder is not suitable for covering large areas and objects. You can buy such gilding from 12600 rubles.

The Russian Standard brand of Noris

The Russian Standard cloth is one of the classic materials that keeps the surface from oxidation for many years. The product is released in the form of a book of 60 sheets with a size of 91.5 x 91.5 mm. The gilding is quite malleable. One such book is enough to process objects in 0,5 m. The cost of such a book is 19,3 thousand rubles.

The Russian Standard brand of Noris
Gold leaf Noris

Russian Standard Noris brand cloths

A good alternative to the expensive material is Russian standard gilding from the company Noris. The analogue is strong, high quality, and is used for decorating large temple areas or painting icons. The product is shipped in containers of 23 grams, requires special care during application. The price of gilding is 9550 rubles.

Russian Standard Transfer Gilding

Another popular product that covers flat objects is the Russian Standard Transfer Gilding. You can buy a book of 25 sheets, each 1.25 mm thick. with its help you can gild walls, ceilings. The gilding is easy to cut with scissors. It is used exclusively for large territories. Costs a book 2300 rubles.

A golden creation from the Raritet brand

Raritet is another well-known company that offers gold leaf for every taste. Gold creation of this brand has a form of metallic powder, which is used to paint paintings, icons. The price of 1 gram of the material is 5 thousand rubles.

Gold powder from the brand Raritet
Created gold under the trademark "Raritet"

Color gilding from the brand Raritet

Color gilding from Raritet is a rare, rather expensive material. This mosaic creates a mirror finish with an unusual sheen, it is used for exterior and interior works. It is notable for its resistance to weather changes. The material is available only to order, the cost is negotiated before production.

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Transfer gilding from the Raritet brand

The transfer gilding of TM Raritet is designed for processing large areas at an affordable price. It is easy to apply, suitable even for beginners, but works best on a smooth surface.

Black Schmidt gold leaf: for interior and exterior work

The manufacturer Black Schmidt has been producing decorative mosaic for many years. They offer the material for interior and exterior finishes. Their coating can be used for large areas as well as for finishing small objects. There is a large assortment of high quality gesso in a variety of shades: classic yellow, moonlight, white, red, and green. Gilding belongs to the category of professional finishing materials, which requires certain skills. The product is available in different quantities, the price - from 6 thousand rubles.

Applications for gold leaf

In today's world sussal is still popular, used in many areas of human activity:

  • It is used to coat electrical circuits: good electrical conductivity significantly lengthens the life of many devices;
  • Gold is actively used by cosmetologists for rejuvenation procedures;
  • The precious metal is an officially recognized additive used for culinary masterpieces around the world;
  • Gold glitter is actively used in architecture, for the processing of volumetric objects;
  • This coating allows you to accentuate certain interior objects.
Applications for gold leaf
Using gold leaf

Icon and painting restoration

It has long been customary to use sussal to decorate paintings, icons, and paintings. In this way the artist made his creation unique, luxurious. As a striking example, Leonardo da Vinci used sussalwood to cover his own paintings to protect them from dust, moisture and other damage.

Susal in cooking, food additive E175

Lately it has become more and more popular to use gold leaf in cooking. In many countries around the world, it is a food additive that is labeled E175 on the package. Food with this component is served by elite chefs in expensive restaurants around the world. Precious leaves decorate cakes, sweets, desserts, ice cream, pastries, sushi, and even meat dishes. Often sousal is added to spirits, soft drinks, and coffee. Such an additive is edible and safe for consumption.

It has been proven that gold, once in the human body, is not capable of causing harm and is excreted unchanged.  


In recent years, sussal has been an integral part of cosmetic procedures and products. Specialists are convinced that its chemical composition can have a certain effect on the epidermis, preserving the beauty and youthfulness of the skin. With the help of sheets of mosaic material make wraps for the face and other parts of the body. The procedure has gained popularity among people with various dermatological problems, as it is believed that gold, together with herbs and other components, is able to improve the condition of the skin in general. 

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Almost every manufacturer of cosmetics has a range of products for home use with gold particles. There are the following types of cosmetics with noble particles:

  • patches;
  • tissue and cream masks;
  • oil for the body, hands, face;
  • serum;
  • cream.
Hydrogel patches
Gold leaf patches

Medicine and Pharmacology

Even ancient physicians were convinced of the healing properties of gold leaf. It was used to cure many diseases. It is believed that the precious metal promotes blood thinning and enhances blood flow. It is used for heart, gastrointestinal, and respiratory problems. In some countries of the world, people drink different drinks with gold particles daily to prevent diseases and fight the first signs of aging.

Modern Art and Susal

Today gold leaf continues to be used for decorating temples, covering domes and exterior elements. For interior work, gold leaf and powder are used. Exterior coatings are more susceptible to the effects of natural phenomena, which means that the finish should be made exclusively with a sheet material of great thickness.

Special tools for manipulating gold in sheets

Using gold leaf for household purposes is not an easy process and requires some skills and knowledge. Any thoughtless action can affect the result of the work. The first and most important rule to remember is that gold leaf should not be touched with your hands. The thickness of the sheets is only a few microns, they are extremely quickly torn and spoiled. It is necessary to use special equipment:

  • Suede cushion - only on it you can carefully cut the sheets and peel the gold from the paper;
  • Metal knife - a specialized tool has a special shape and extremely sharp blade;
  • lampenzel - is a special brush with a wide flat surface designed for carrying gold material;
  • agate is a natural stone with which the final polishing of the surface is done. It is used to make specialized tools with a smooth tip and handle.
Susal to cover
Gold leaf

Rules for applying Susali

The definition of susali itself indicates that the sheets are used to gild surfaces. The entire process consists of the following steps:

  1. The surface is covered with a primer-leucas in 3 layers. The first coat is the most liquid, the rest a little thicker. At least one hour should pass between each application. After the last coat, the surface must dry for more than 6 hours.
  2. The prepared surface is sanded. To do this, abrasive sheets are used.
  3. Then the primer is covered with a layer of shellac, which is applied with a brush. Allow the layer to dry well.
  4. Again grind the product with paper abrasive P600.
  5.  Then you can move on to the application process gilding. Sussal is cut into pieces of the required size. The surface is wiped with a mixture of water and alcohol, on which the sheets are actually glued. When the gold adheres firmly to the surface, they begin to polish it. In some cases, the water-alcohol solution is replaced with professional glue.
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Rules for selecting gold leaf

Virtually all manufacturers use the same technology to produce the leaf material. The only difference is the surface area to be covered. To choose the right material for gilding, it is important to pay attention to the following points:

  • Each manufacturer specifies for what purposes it is recommended to use dried wood. If it is intended for the food industry, it cannot be used for finishing work. Also, different material is used to cover even and rough surfaces.
  • If you are decorating outdoors, it is better to choose a brand designed for outdoor use. This material is more resistant to weather conditions and better protects objects from corrosion damage.
  • It is best to give preference to well-known manufacturers who guarantee the quality of their products. In addition, manufacturers always offer discounts to their customers when buying large quantities.
Gold leaf
Bottled gold leaf


Recently we covered old icons with gold leaf. We bought 10 sheets of the European product, which cost about 2 thousand rubles. The sheets are 80x80mm, corresponding to 23 carats. They are easy to work with, and provide a durable protective coating for wooden frames.

Genady R., Sevastopol
Nikolay L., Moscow

As a professional interior decorator, I can tell you that now it is much more profitable to use special paint, which creates a natural gilding effect and is valued no less than precious wood. Such a coating performs the same functions, but costs significantly less. In addition, it is much easier to work with. 

I have been practicing cosmetology for many years and gradually my clients became interested in procedures with gold. Then I learned about the suli, which has a rejuvenating effect on the skin. I still do not understand how it works, but I use gold leaf treatments more and more often. Now I am experimenting with products from different manufacturers, although so far they differ only in the cost of the sheets.

Lilia G., Moscow

Video: where gold leaf is used today

Decorator's Commentary

Tatiana Vinogradova
Tatiana Vinogradova
Already in Ancient China they knew what gold leaf was, as they used it in the interior for dyeing furniture and interior items, although the coating was insufficiently studied. Gradually other countries adopted the technology.

Modern manufacturers offer a material that is not cheap, so it became popular more budget analogues, which outwardly do not differ much from real gold, but have a different composition.

It is important to remember that working with real gold leaf requires experience, special tools, and certain skills. But it is always easier for beginners to use gold leaf doubles, which are not as demanding to apply.
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