The motif is carved in intaglio (‘negative’) on a wooden, stone or metal die.
A sheet of gold is hammered or pressed onto the die; an intermediate layer of yielding material (wool, leather, wax or lead) helps the metal to dilate and take the shape of the motif.
Details are finished with fine wooden or bone tools (or even by pressing with the fingers).
A variation of the technique
Sometimes, a more complex form of double die was used for embossing gold.