[Northkeep] [Fwd: "Stunning" Viking Necklace in Ireland]

Miles Grey Kahn at West-Point.org
Sat May 1 11:11:12 PDT 2010

willowdewisp at juno.com wrote:

>What do they mean "wrapped in gold foil"

I believe that means the goldsmith pounded or rolled gold until it was 
paper thin or thinner, then the gold was affixed to the beads.  The 
latter may have been accomplished using an adhesive (probably) or by 
heating the glass beads so they were close to melting point of gold 
(just a wild guess on my part).  The result is golden beads without the 
expense of beads of gold.  Gold is more malleable than aluminum, so if 
you've ever seen how well you can make aluminum foil take on the details 
of a coin or something like that, it's easy to understand how gold foil 
could be used to cover a round object.

It sounds similar to gold leaf work.  Gold leaf has been used for at 
least 200 years, probably much longer, for decorative effect.  Gold leaf 
is gold that is thinner than tissue paper.  A thin layer of adhesive is 
applied to the surface, and then a soft-bristled brush is used - very 
carefully - to apply the gold leaf to the adhesive.  Well-executed, the 
result is striking. Gold leaf is almost unbelievably thin and you can 
blow it into shreds, so gold leaf work is best left for skilled people 
with very steady hands.  But gold leaf would be too fragile to stand up 
the the wear of beads worn as jewelry.

  Miles Grey

More information about the Northkeep mailing list