Anthony Hilton: Striking gold at a glistering exhibition

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Some 20 years ago when I was trying to find a venue for a business reception I called Goldsmiths' Hall, home of the grandest of the City livery companies, and asked how I went about hiring it for a function.

"You wait until you are invited, sir," came the haughty reply.

Well things have changed, and this week I got an invitation worth waiting for, to the preview of the most comprehensive and ambitious exhibition ever to be staged in Goldsmiths' Hall.

Gold: Its power and allure has taken five years in the planning, and the assembled treasures from private collections far and wide to tell the story of gold down the ages .

With input from the Gold Council, the result is the most astonishing showcase of gold treasures one is ever likely to see in one place.

Exhibits range from a gold lunula – a moon-shaped collar – dating from 2000BC found in Northern Ireland, though rings worn by Elizabeth I and other monarchs, some of the earliest ever coins, including the Venetian ducat we all read about in Shakespeare, an astonishing collection of cups, trophies, tableware and clothing, snuff boxes and some beautiful examples of modern jewellery. There is even a handkerchief made from gold thread.

It is free, two minutes from St Paul's, and open after the bank holidays until the end of July.