The Physics
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Thickness of Gold Leaf

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Bibliographic Entry Result
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Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. CD-ROM, 1998. "four to five millionths of an inch in thickness" 0.1–0.125 μm
Gold Leaf Technique for Jewelers. Goss Design Studio. "Leaf metal varies from 1/8,000 mm to 1/10,000 mm in thickness." 0.1–0.125 μm
Facts About Gold. The Gold Institute. "Pure gold that is pounded into sheets applied to other surfaces by hand. Usually about 3 micro-inches thick." 0.08 μm
Sign Gold Films for Vinyl Cutters from Beacon Graphic Systems. Beacon Graphic Systems. "10-14 year outdoor life 1 mil thick Non-Fading 22 Karet Gold Film Easy cutting, weeding & application" 0.03 μm
Schvaneveldt, Steve. Problem Set #1. Chem 125E. "Assuming that a sheet of gold leaf is 1.27 × 10−5 cm thick, how many square feet of gold leaf could be obtained from 100.0 lbs of gold?" 0.127 μm

Gold is one of the rarest elements found on the earth and has been sought by people since ancient times. In the massive form it is a soft, yellow metal with the highest ductility and malleability of any element. Thus one ounce of gold can be beaten out to 300 square feet. Gold nearly always occurs in pure or native form. Gold is the most easily worked of all metals. This means that it can be drawn out into fine wires or beaten into sheets so thin that they are almost transparent. At this stage the gold is just a few atoms thick.

Gold leaf is defined as a sheet of gold ordinarily varying from four to five millionths of an inch in thickness (0.1 to 0.125 millionths of a meter or micrometers, μm). It is used especially for gilding to cover a surface as decoration. Gilding is used on furniture, walls and religious objects. Gold leaf is made by melting solid gold and mixing in other metals to achieve the desired color. The gold is hammered by hand, until it is so thin that it is nearly weightless and a slightest movement of air will cause it to wrinkle. It will melt between your fingers.

Jenifer M. Vilfranc -- 1999