Best Gold Ink?

Does anybody have any recommendations for their fave gold ink? I am printing up some Christmas cards and one of them is screaming for some iridescent gold ink. :)

I am doing one in honor of a little girl in my neighborhood who is battling cancer. :( Her favorite color is purple, but wanted to add some holiday sparkle. Can you add silver ink to a color like purple to make it iridescent?

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To answer your second question first, you should be able to start with silver, and add a little purple to it to make a metallic purple ink. I would not start with purple because you might have to add such a large amount of silver to it that you will end up with a much bigger batch than you need. Your purple ink should be transparent, but since you won’t be adding very much, the ink you have on hand will probably work OK regardless.

If you have silver, you should be able to add a little transparent yellow and red to make your gold. Process colors are transparent, so if you use process yellow and process magenta, you can play around with the amounts to make the shade of gold that you want. Or you can use Pantone yellow and Pantone rubine. Mix the yellow and rubine together until you get a “gold” color of orange, and then put a little of that into some silver.

If you need to buy metallic ink, you may or may not see the term “leafing” in the description. If you do see that term, so much the better. Nowadays most metallic colors are made with aluminum powder. The aluminum is in the form of tiny flakes which are intended to lay down flat, forming a flat surface which will reflect the light and make the ink look shiny. This is called leafing. (Of course, the paper plays a part in the overall effect as well. The smoother the paper, the more the tiny aluminum flakes can lay down flat and form a shinier surface).

This is how I, a do-it-yourselfer, would do it, but if you are in business you might not want to take the time to do it this way. Good luck and have fun!


I’m also trying to use a gold ink and just tested out some VanSon Gold (874). I printed on 110lb Crane Lettra and did not achieve the results I was looking for - that metallic shine. It is instead a gold color because the paper “absorbs” the metallic element of the ink, or as Geoff mentions they’re not flat enough to shine perhaps because the paper is so textured.

I think the key here, is the paper. A woman at Boxcar told me to use coated paper, but I’m not looking for a shiny stock, and I’m unsure of the next step. I only just saw this post after I posted my question about which paper to use…maybe we’ll get our answer on either one of these discussions. Best of luck!

Any uncoated paper will take most of the shine out of a metallic ink. You will have some sheen, but it’s nothing like what you’d get on a coated stock. Your best bet would be to use something as smooth as possible – Mohawk Superfine is a good one – to get the best possible result on uncoated paper.

If you truly want a metallic shine, try foil stamping.

We would use yellow ink, then dust with gold dusting powder. Depending on the run, it was generally a 2 man operation. One printed and delivered it to the duster who would slip it into a custom mask and dust. The mask keep the powder from getting all over everything. It created a surefire rich metallic effect. For silver we used white ink and silver dust.

Get someone to screen print it or learn to do it yourself. Screen printing, the most brilliant metallics are possible.

I might try that gold ink that they sell for the controversial at home letterpress. It’s only $7 so much of a commitment. If I don’t like it, I might end of trying screenprinting it. I do have the setup for that too. Would be curious to try to screenprint it first and then letterpress it without ink??

With most gold inks on uncoated paper, I’ve found it necessary to double strike the image (feed the stock, let the form hit it twice, then feed the next stock). You get better coverage and the first hit levels the paper and lays a base that the 2nd hit can stand on. It isn’t as good as foil stamping, but it is better than single hit with metallic inks.

Screen printing and letterpress inks have very different formulations, I wouldn’t try to print letterpress/offset ink via silkscreen.

One of the things that is not being mentioned along with uncoated paper is that you need a very smooth surfaced paper. Anything with a great deal of texture or tooth to it will impact how the metallic ink sits and reflects.

For example, silver ink on a very smooth vellum will have its shine/reflective nature intact whereas the same ink on a more textured paper, it will not.
if you are wondering the main reason for this is the usage of the metal particles are unable to sit flat and form a smooth surface.