If something isn’t good to begin with, there’s not much one can do to improve it.
Literal translations – Dutch: A monkey may wear a gold ring, but it stays an ugly thing. | Spanish: The money may dress in silk, but it stays a monkey. | German: One can’t cut a diamond out of a pebble. | Irish: Dress a goat in silk, but it still remains a goat. | Romanian: One can’t make a whip out of shit. | Russian: One can’t make candy out of shit. | Finnish: Many cakes may look beautiful on the outside, but be shitty in the inside. | French: One cannot make a race-horse from a donkey. | Turkish: You may put a golden packsaddle on a donkey, but the donkey is always a donkey.