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Welcome to our extensive antique jewelry glossary with around 1,500 jewelry related entries.If you feel you are missing an explanation, feel free to let us know and we will add it.
The process of overlaying or covering any metal, wood, etc., with a thin layer of gold alloy.
The technique has been used since ancient times, and was practised by the pre-Columbian American Indians.
The methods include: oil gilding or water gilding, by attaching gold leaf by means of an adhesive (called a 'mordant'); mercury gilding, by applying an amalgan of gold and mercury with a brush, then heating the object to cause the mercury to vaporize and to leave a thin film of gold; friction gilding, by rubbing the surface with ashes of linen rags soaked in a solution of gold chloride, then burnishing and polishing; and electroplating, by depositing a layer of gold by an electric current, leaving a thin 'flash' of gold or a substantial covering, or leaving a more durable layer by 'hard gold plating'. After certain gilding processes, the effect was enhanced by 'tooling', i.e. by incising the gold surface to create a design or a textured surface.
From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson