The art of gilding dates back as early as the 23rd century BC in ancient Egypt. It takes a certain level of expertise to work with as whisper-thin metal leaf is extremely fragile and fickle to handle, but once applied, it creates an unmatched elegance. Despite its delicate nature, the material itself is so chemically stable that it will not tarnish nor deteriorate as long as the substrate it lies on remains stable. There are two techniques used to apply metal leaf: oil gilding and water gilding. Oil gilding provides only a matte finish, while water gilding provides both a matte finish or a shiny finish.