How we decorate the surface of textiles divides into a few categories, though you might not think so. The kinds of embellishments done for festival attire and for tribal attire does not separate the person wearing it from their culture, but rather binds them to the society of which they are a part. Gold work embroidery and its many variations, do something entirely different. While they do connect the person to the culture, it is done at a remove. The reason is the precision, the price, and the rarity of the process and its materials. Anyone who can afford or command such work to be done is not a common citizen, they are a person of power. Therein lies the difference, and the allure.
What makes the whole thing possible is one physical characteristic of the element itself, malleability. Gold is unlike any other metal for its nearly endless ability to be folded, twisted, and manipulated without breaking. Apart from it's singular warm color, this makes it perfect for application to the surface of a flexible textile.
The essential actions used to create gold work are not unknown in other embroidery. The only thing that is particular about it, is that the gold is never taken under the surface of the material it's applied to. In part this is because gold is so precious, and gives rise to one of the other ways of referring to it, laid work, since the gold is laid down on the surface, and held in place with stitches.
By far the most common technique is couching, where threads either matching or contrasting the gold, are passed over it at regular intervals to keep it in place.
So here is an example.
Yes, the appearance of evident wealth confers status, but only for a time, and eventually, only if it seems merited. So gold work continues to grab our attention, but not in quite the way it did before. It means wealth, yes, but it no longer instantly signifies taste or sway. Merely money.