9 Tips and Tricks to Tell If the Gold You’re Purchasing is Real or Not

Tell If the Gold You’re Purchasing is Real or Not

If you’re buying a piece of jewelry and aren’t sure if the gold is real, there are a few things you can do that might help your hunch.

Give It The “Bounce Test”

One of the simplest ways to do this is by giving the gold the bounce test. You will need a penny (any year) and a metal table or counter. 

Drop the penny on top of your piece of gold. If it sounds like a bell, your piece is most likely real because it has a high density and sound travels through it well. 

If it sounds like a regular coin, then your piece is probably counterfeit because it has less density and sound travels through it more slowly.

Use A Magnet

Pull out the trusty fridge magnet, and see if the gold sticks to it. If it does, you’ve got a fake on your hands.

Real gold is not magnetic but many of its look-alikes are. Gold, silver, and platinum are non-ferrous metals, meaning they don’t contain iron (ferrite) in their chemical makeup. 

Because magnets stick to metal that contains iron, if a magnet sticks to your jewelry it’s either base metal or plated (not solid).

Give It The Acid Test

One of the most popular (and effective) ways to verify gold is real is to use an acid test. You’ll need a gold testing kit, which you can purchase online or at a local jeweler.

Each acid test features a different type of acid that represents one of the three karats of gold: 10 karat, 14 karat, and 18 karats. 

The acid reacts with the metal it comes into contact with, changing color depending on whether it’s real gold or plated. 

A positive result should leave behind a greenish residue for 10k items and reddish for 14k items, while silver will turn gray and copper-red in 18k tests.

Before using an acid test yourself, make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment including gloves and safety glasses. 

Follow your kit’s instructions carefully because incorrect usage could damage your gold item or even cause injury. 

Once you’ve determined if your piece is indeed real gold, take appropriate measures to clean it before wearing it again.

Check The Piece’s Weight

If you’re someone who’s not educated in metals or jewelry, the easiest way to check whether a piece of gold is real or not is by using a simple scale. 

Gold is extremely dense, which makes it easy for the density of its weight to be measured. The more gold there is in each piece, the heavier it will be.

While many people assume that gold should be as heavy as lead, this isn’t true at all. Lead tends to weigh twice as much as an equal volume of gold. 

If your jewelry weighs anywhere near what lead would weigh, it’s probably fake gold plating over another metal! Gold is also very soft and can be easily scratched if dropped on a hard surface such as tile or concrete.

Gold weights are measured in troy ounces (31.1034768 grams), pennyweights (1/20th of an ounce), and grams​. The most accurate way to test your item for its carat purity, and therefore how much it’s worth is by taking it to a local jeweler who can perform this test for you.

Look For Imperfections

If imperfections are visible with the naked eye, then it means the gold has been poured into a mold and is likely real. 

Gold can be made perfectly smooth if made into a thin sheet, but if it’s thick enough to see the color, then there will be imperfections. 

Imperfections can come in many forms: nicks, pockmarks, bumps, or even small bubbles or lines. Using a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe on your piece of gold is another great way to find these imperfections.

Also See: Gold Plated Or Gold-Filled jewelry?

Examine The Jewelry’s Surfaces

Is it smooth? Is it shiny? How does it feel? Those are the questions you should be asking yourself when examining the jewelry you’re looking to buy.

First, take a look at the jewelry under good lighting and with a loupe. If your loupe has 10x magnification, hold it about three inches away from the piece. 

You can also use an online jeweler’s loupe for this purpose. If you don’t already have one of these, remember that a magnifying glass is better than nothing!

Once you have a good look at the item, there are several things you should check:

  • Is your gold smooth? Real gold will not have any pits or nicks in its texture. Fake gold will have surface irregularities around the edges and on the bottom of each piece (clasps, links, etc.)
  • Does your gold shine? Real gold will be dull red in color and shine like glass in the light. If your piece has a yellowish tint or looks more metallic-colored, then it probably isn’t real gold. Fake gold pieces may also appear flat instead of shiny, remember that real gold does.

Pay Attention To The White Gold

Gold in its natural state is yellow, but white gold is created by combining pure gold with a white metal (usually nickel or palladium) to give it a silver-like appearance. 

Because of the addition of another metal, white gold is not magnetic. True white gold will also be stamped with its karat amount and won’t be marked as 100% pure gold.

Use A Magnifying Glass Or Loupe

A magnifying glass or loupe is used to examine the piece of gold in detail. Look for imperfections within the gold itself. If you spot any, don’t buy it because this indicates it’s not real gold.

When examining jewelry, be sure to look for hallmarks as these indicate the quality of the metal. Scratches are a good indicator that the item you wish to purchase is real as well.

If you are buying gold-plated jewelry, check to see if there is gold solder at the point where two different metals connect. If there isn’t any, then it isn’t authentic gold plating and your money would be better spent elsewhere.

Hire An Expert

The best way to avoid being fooled by a fake is to hire an expert. An appraisal conducted by a professional will give you the most accurate information as to whether or not the gold you’re purchasing is real. 

The cost of this appraisal may be more expensive than the piece itself, but it’s well worth that expense if it means you’ll know what you’re getting into before making the purchase. 

And if you don’t have access to an expert, get a second opinion from another expert. They might be able to confirm whether or not your first appraisal was correct and trustworthy.

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