Goldwork embroidery has been practiced around the world for the past 2000 years, to represent status and wealth. Various techniques have been found on royal and religious vestments and chronicled in images and paintings, from the great ancient cultures including Asia, Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and Greece, to the courts and palaces of Europe. Around the 10th century, goldwork embroidery became highly developed in England for the church, royalty, and military. It was considered a fine art because few possessed the skill and patience required to work with the brittle threads.
Over the centuries different techniques have developed, including winding the metal around strands of hair, silk, cotton, animal gut, paper, or parchment. Although the original threads were truly flattened white or silver gold, over time many different types of thread have developed, including alloying the gold with different metals for increased strength and flexibility, using various metal and core materials, or today even utilizing technologies which have increased the thread’s durability and washability.