In this edition of History of Hues, we’re chatting all things Honey Gold, which just so happens to be the name of one of our textured velvet curtains. The definition of honey gold is a moderate yellow that has red overtones—essentially just imagine a beehive in the middle of summer.
In Ancient Egypt, yellow ochre was amongst the first pigments used. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the skin and bones of their gods were made of gold, and thus depicted them as such in their art. Golden yellow was used to decorate the regalia associated with pharaohs.
The history of gold cloth, also known as cloth of gold, is a fabric woven with yarns that are wrapped in gold. The core yarn is silk, and a fine beaten filament of gold is spiral-wrapped around this. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Italian cities such as Venice, Milan, Lucca, Florence, and Genoa supplied the European markets with these materials. This fabric would be commissioned by those with extraordinary wealth. Because it was made with real gold, it could also be used as actual currency.
In the mid-1400s during the reign of Edward IV, the laws were very clear about who was allowed to wear what colors and fabrics. Wearing purple silk, sable fur, and cloth of gold were restricted to those of the rank knight, lord, or higher. In 1520, there was a summit between Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France. The two men tried to outdress each other, and there was such a show of gold and opulence that lasted 18 days. The site became known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold. The event was designed to allow the two men to bond their two nations but instead turned into each king showing off his wealth and power.
Present-day India still has mills that make cloth of gold. It is time-consuming and expensive. In addition to the cloth of gold, they also produce the yarn and use it for embroidery. Lavish borders on saris are commonly embroidered in this technique. Most people who want gold fabrics use other methods such as lamé, which is a fabric with a metallic fiber, or dye a fabric the color they are searching for. In present-day fabric stores, it is possible to find synthetic fabrics that have the sheen of cloth of gold.
Prior to synthetic dyes, saffron was used to achieve a rich yellow gold color. This color was reserved for royalty and was also used for the religious robes of Buddhist monks in China and India. The saffron stamen comes from the center of the crocus flower. Each flower produces three stamens. The flowers are ready for harvest for one week and must be harvested by hand early in the day before the blooms open. Saffron is currently the world’s most expensive spice at about $20,000.00 a kilogram.
Due to the labor and expense, other natural dyes have been used to create gold fabric. Some of the more popular being turmeric, marigold, and Queen Anne’s Lace. All of these produced lovely shades of golden fabrics.
The textured velvet in honey gold is a way to add warmth and elegance to your home. We like to say that this is the goldilocks of fabric, not too shiny and not too matte. Honey Gold is a neutral color, so if you are starting from scratch, it is a great building block for designing your perfect space.