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Gold leaf is gold that has been hammered into extremely thin sheets and is often used for gilding. Gold leaf is available in a wide variety of karats and shades. 22-karat yellow gold is the most commonly used.
Gold leaf is sometimes confused with metal leaf but they are different products. The term metal leaf is normally used for thin sheets of metal of any color that do not contain any real gold. 24 karats is pure gold. Real yellow gold leaf is about 92% pure gold. Silver colored white gold is approximately 50% pure gold.
Layering gold leaf over a surface is called gold leafing or gilding. Traditional water gilding is the most difficult and highly regarded form of gold leafing. It has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years and is still done by hand.
Gold leafing in art 
Gold leaf has traditionally been most popular and most common in its use as gilding material for decoration of art (including statues and Eastern Christian icons) or the picture frames that are often used to hold or decorate paintings, mixed media, small objects (including jewelry) and paper art. "Gold" frames made without leafing are also available for a considerably lower price, but traditionally some form of gold or metal leaf was preferred when possible and gold leafed (or silver leafed) moulding is still commonly available from many of the companies that produce commercially-available moulding for use as picture frames.
Culinary uses 
Gold leaf (as well as other Metal leaf such as Vark) is sometimes used to decorate food or drink, typically to promote a perception of luxury and high value, though it is flavorless. It is usually found in desserts and confectionery, including chocolates and mithai.
In Asian countries, gold is sometimes used in fruit jelly snacks. It was also used in coffee, particularly during Japanese asset price bubble. In Kanazawa, where Japan's gold leaf production was centered, gold leaf shops and workshops sold green tea and hard candy with gold leaf within. In the late 1870s, alcohol was consumed with gold leaves to give the appearance of great wealth.
A recent trend in the US has seen the inclusion of floating bits of gold leaf in liquors such as Goldschläger. However, in Continental Europe liquors with such bits of gold leaf are known since the late 16th century. Well-known examples are Danziger Goldwasser, originally from Gdańsk, Poland, which has been produced since at least 1598 and Goldstrike from Amsterdam.
The E-number for gold is E175.