All that glitters: 12 golden objects in our collections

Gold is a colour of reverence, an object of luxury, a symbol of wealth and power. As a mineral, it is geologically scarce, adding to its rarity and value. On top of this it is uniquely malleable and resistant to tarnish and corrosion.

From goldwork and gilding to goldsmithing and jewellery making, here is a look at the ways in which gold has been used in objects from our collections.


Golden threads

Gold leaf and gold ground


" Gold — what can it not do, and undo?"
- William Shakespeare

Solid gold


See an 18th-century gilt table being restored

Thanks to generous support, a beautiful 18th-century gilt console table in Beningborough's collection in North Yorkshire has recently returned to its former shining glory. It took 240 hours of skilled craftsmanship to conserve the structure of the table and the marble top. The final aspects of gilding the gold took place in the saloon for visitors to see. This video tells a rare behind-the-scenes conservation story.

Art & collections

We care for one of the world's largest and most significant collections of art and heritage objects. Explore the highlights, our latest major exhibitions, curatorial research and more