Blog How to Tell if Gold is Real

How to Tell if Gold is Real

It’s easy to recognize the color gold. The shiny, yellow, metallic hue is undeniable.

But figuring out how to tell if gold is real or not is a different story.

Gold can be extremely valuable. In fact, in today’s market, the price of gold has reached a record-breaking, all-time high. Current values of gold have grown by 53 percent in just a little over a year, so it’s not a bad time to check whether the gold you have is real or not.

So, how can you tell if gold is real or not? Let’s take a look.

How to Tell if Gold is Real: DIY Methods

Most professional standards will tell you that anything with under 41.7 percent (or ten karats) of gold in it is considered fake gold.

Thankfully, you can get a good idea of whether your gold is real or not in the comfort of your own home. These tests may not tell you how much your gold is valued, but they can help determine whether it’s worth it to have it inspected by a certified jeweler.

Check for the Hallmark

A hallmark is a symbol used to mark gold. These stamps are used in various countries, mainly Europe, and are great for identifying precious metals like gold.

The hallmark symbol for gold is an octagon shape. While scammers out there may try to mimic this shape to sell fake gold, there’s a good chance that a piece of gold with this hallmark is real.

Some hallmarks will also include a stamp with numbers. This stamp signifies the purity of the gold. For example, 585 represents 14K gold.

A genuine piece of gold may have a stamp that shows which company submitted the piece for its original hallmarking. If your gold has all three of these stamps, it’s almost definite that it’s real.

Look for these stamps as well:

  • GP
  • GF
  • GEP

GP stands for gold plated, which means the whole piece is not solid gold. GF stands for gold-filled, and GEP stands for gold electroplate. All of these stamps indicate that your gold is not pure.

Heaviness Test

One of the most straightforward tests you can perform on your gold is to fill a jug with water and drop the piece of gold in. Real gold is much denser than fake gold, so you can expect a real piece of jewelry to fall quickly to the bottom.

Fake gold, which is lighter, tends to float in water. So if your piece of gold floats, it’s probably not real.

At the same time, fake gold will rust or tarnish when it gets wet. If you see any discoloration on your gold, it’s likely a plated gold piece and not pure gold.

Note Discolorations

Speaking of discolorations, various signs of this instance is a pretty typical indication that your gold is fake or simply gold plated. You’ve probably worn a ring at some point in your life that turned your finger green or black.

Jewelry that turns your skin a different color is probably not real gold. A green mark means the piece is copper, while a black mark comes from silver.

Some lower karat gold items, like 14K rings, come from a blend of metals, so it is possible that this could leave a mark. But it’s not likely.

Magnet Test

Did you know that real gold is not magnetic? Another simple test you can use on your jewelry is to take a strong magnet and hold it up to your gold piece to see if it sticks.

Oftentimes, fake gold will react to a magnet and stick to it. Real gold will not.

This basic test isn’t super reliable because some counterfeit golds use stainless steel, which is not magnetic. But it is a good initial test to see if your gold jewelry is even worth bringing to a jeweler.

Nitric Acid Test

You can purchase a nitric acid gold testing kit online to test any piece of gold you might find. These kits include different bottles of nitric acid that test different kinds of gold. It also has a touchstone, which is a flat rock that lets you scratch off a small shaving of gold to test.

The various acids will allow you to test for different karats of gold. Once you scratch the piece along the touchstone, add a drop of each along the mark. Whichever spot doesn’t dissolve is the approximate karat.

Final Thoughts

It can be easy to get excited when you stumble across an old family heirloom or a piece of jewelry on the street, but it’s essential to test these gold pieces out before you get your hopes up.

These tests can make for a great first step, but the best way to test your gold is to bring it to a certified professional jeweler. Not only will they be able to tell you if it’s real or not, but they may also be able to tell you how much it’s worth.