The Jewelry Insider

December 29, 2009

Watching the ball drop isn’t the only thing sparkling in New York City for New Year’s. The Empire State Building has a new lobby – and it’s filled with gold.

Gold isn’t just a precious metal used to make jewelry (although, it’s certainly our favorite incarnation). Gold is also used to make semi-conductors, dental instruments, fabric – even face masks at your favorite salon. Another popular use is for interior design, and artists during the Art Deco period of the 1930s and 1940s used oodles of it in their interiors for luxury buildings.

Back in the 1931, the folks who designed the lobby of the Empire State building used 23 karat gold to create their stunning lobby decor, including several ceiling murals that were left to deteriorate more than 35 years ago after being covered with white plastic panels and fluorescent light fixtures.

According to the New York Times, Anthony E. Malkin, the president of Malkin Holdings, which currently owns the building wanted the lobby to be more of a triumphant portal than a utilitarian passageway for tourists on the way to the observation deck. So as part of a $550 million project to upgrade the entire building, Mr. Malkin and a team of architects and designers set out to make the lobby as impressive as it was when the building opened in 1931.

That made recreating the murals a priority. The pieces cover more than a third of the square footage of a football field using 15,000 square feet of aluminum, 1,300 square feet of 23-karat
gold leaf
, and more than 50 artists, site painters and installers to bring them back to life. While further lobby renovations continue, the golden murals are finished and are currently display for tourists and locals alike.

Visit the Jewelry.com gold jewelry treasure chest for deals that cost a lot less than a gold-leaf ceiling decoration.

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