What is Gold Foil?


With the progress of society and the improvement of living standards, people’s aesthetic tastes are becoming more and more elegant. The demand for high-quality, environmentally friendly, personalized product packaging is growing. Gold foil perfectly meets these needs, bringing a unique golden effect to product packaging and is widely used in the packaging industry. A common question about gold foil is: “Is real gold used in the process?” Let’s dive into this article to find the answer.

Is Real Gold Used in Gold Foiling?

Before we study the details of gold foil, let’s quickly answer a common question: Does the gold foil process use real gold? The answer is No. In modern society, gold foil is usually about using electroplated aluminum.

However, historically, there were times when real gold was indeed used for gold foiling. Gold, as a metal, has excellent stability, flexibility and oxidation resistance. This precious metal could be hammered into an extremely thin gold leaf. Historical records show that gold foiling was used in ancient Egypt to decorate royal and religious items, such as Pharaoh’s masks, temple decorations, and religious texts. In medieval Europe, gold foiling was mainly applied to religious documents and church decorations. In China, since the Han Dynasty, gold leaf has been widely used in Buddhist art, cultural relics and more. The use of real gold foiling is for very important occasions.

What Is the Gold Foiling Technique Used Today?

Having clarified that modern gold foil does not use real gold, the next step is to explore how gold foiling works today. As mentioned earlier, modern gold foiling mainly uses electroplated aluminum. Using the heat transfer to imprint the aluminum layer onto the objects’ surface creates a shiny golden effect.

What exactly is electroplated aluminum? It is a polyester plastic film coated with gold-colored dye. This film is electroplated with a thin layer of aluminum under vacuum conditions to achieve an effect similar to that of a gold leaf. What’s more, besides traditional gold and silver colors, it can also produce a variety of other colors.

The electroplated aluminum is cost-effective, has strong oxidation resistance, and has good luster. This modern gold foiling technique greatly enhances the elegance and appeal of products.

Where Is Gold Foiling Commonly Used?

Gold foiling plays a role in highlighting and elevating the class of the product. It can be used in various materials, including paper, plastic, wood, and leather. With its unique features and practical value, Gold foil is widely used in the packaging printing industry and anti-counterfeiting technology. Through gold foiling technology, products stand out in the market while protecting their authenticity and uniqueness.

Packaging Printing Industry:

  • High-end product packaging: Gold foiling is widely used in perfumes, cosmetics, and fine wines. The gold foil gives the packaging a luxurious and high-end feel.
  • Printing and publishing: For example, on book covers, business cards, and invitations, gold foiling adds a touch of professionalism.

Anti-Counterfeiting Technology:

  • Anti-counterfeiting marks: Gold foiling is often used to create effective anti-counterfeiting marks due to its unique and hard-to-imitate nature. These marks are widely applied to high-value goods, official documents, and certificates, preventing forgery and piracy.
  • Personalized security elements: Gold foiling is also used to enhance the visual effect of personalized anti-counterfeiting elements, such as numbers, special patterns, or symbols, which are crucial in documents, official papers, and security documents.

In summary, applying gold foiling in the packaging printing industry and anti-counterfeiting technology highlights its aesthetic value and demonstrates its importance in safety and brand protection.

How to Apply Gold Foiling

  • Design and Plate Making: The first step in gold foiling is to design a pattern or text and convert it into a gold foiling template. This usually involves engraving the design onto a metal plate (brass, copper, or steel) to create a raised pattern.
  • Choice of Gold Foiling Material: Then, choose the appropriate gold foiling foil, which can be gold, silver, or other colors. After heating the gold foiling plate made in the first step, the gold foiling foil is heated to the appropriate temperature and then hot-pressed onto the target substrate (such as paper, plastic, or leather). In this process, the raised part of the gold foiling plate transfers the metal layer from the foil material and adheres it to the substrate.
  • Cooling and Cleaning: After the gold foiling is completed, the material needs to be cooled, and then the excess foil material is removed, leaving behind an exquisite gold foiling pattern.
  • Tips: The success of the gold foiling process largely depends on the precision of the gold foiling plate, the quality of the gold foiling foil, and the accurate control of temperature and pressure during the process. Gold foiling enhances products’ visual appeal and sensory experience when correctly executed.

Quick and Easy Way to Apply Gold Foiling

The traditional gold foiling process is complex. For those trying gold foiling for the first time, this may mean facing complex operations and potentially high costs. But now, at 4customize, we offer you a simple and quick alternative to achieve the gold foiling effect: custom gold foil stickers.

These stickers come with a self-adhesive back, and the application process is extremely simple. You need to peel off the gold foiled sticker and stick it on the desired surface of the object, such as glass, paper, or plastic. This method is convenient and creates a beautiful, attractive golden effect. 


We have explored everything from traditional gold-foiling techniques to simple gold-foiled sticker labels. Traditional gold foiling uses electroplated aluminum technology and is suitable for various materials, but the process is complex. As a convenient alternative, custom gold foil stickers provide a quick and easy gold foiling effect. This innovation makes gold foiling more flexible and easier to use.