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Figure of the month: 7,000

News Arnulf Hinkel, financial journalist – 01.04.2024

The best-known uses of gold are certainly its processing into valuable jewellery and its use as a store of value and portfolio stabiliser for investors. However, gold is also an integral part of technology – in smartphones, computers, smart wearables and motor vehicles as well as in space travel. Gold also plays an important role in medicine: in the treatment of rheumatism, for example, or in diagnostics, since the precious metal can be found in pretty much every rapid test. Another, albeit much less well known, application dates back 7,000 years: Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing precious tea sets and vases with gold.

The beauty of simplicity – enhanced with gold

The end of the 15th century saw a new philosophy being established in Japanese tea ceremonies: that of Wabi-sabi. As part of a philosophical shift, tea ceremonies moved away from using the most sumptuous and immaculate tea ware, towards more simple and imperfect tea vessels, usually the fragile raku ceramics. In addition, defective tea ware was no longer discarded, but instead repaired with urushi lacquer and the glued seams decorated with powdered gold. This visually enhanced vessels which would previously have been destined for the rubbish bin.

The meaning of Kintsugi: preserving valuable items

It may be due to peoples’ increased awareness for sustainable lifestyle choices around the world and yearning to turn away from “throwaway” consumer society. In any case, Kintsugi has also achieved a certain level of popularity in the western world over the past 20 years, and quite a few people are interested in the 7,000-year-old repair technique. The Internet is a treasure trove of various DYI instructions on how to repair and beautify a favourite broken vase or cup according to the principles and techniques of Kintsugi. You can even buy ready-made kintsugi kits, and the indispensable gold flakes give your damaged favourite piece a valuable and unusual look.
 

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