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Have you inherited an heirloom or bought some gold and want to know whether it’s real? You’d be wise to do so: owning gold is a wise investment, but it can be difficult for the layperson to tell real gold from other metals.
If you want to know how to tell if gold is real, there are several different methods that you can use. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at some different ways to tell whether you’ve got real gold coins, jewelry, or ingots, or whether you’ve been scammed and left with fake gold.
Are you ready to learn more about the different types of gold and how you can tell whether they’re genuine? Then read on!
1. Look for a Hallmark
One way to tell whether gold jewelry is real is by looking for a hallmark. This is a small, stamped mark that says how much of the item is made up of pure gold.
Hallmarks can be a number from one to 100 or it can be the karat number, from zero to 24 karats.
Karat is a measurement of purity, with one karat meaning that the item is one 24th gold, while 24-karat gold is pure gold.
Hallmarking became common in the 1950s, so this isn’t a reliable method with older items.
2. Look for Any Discoloration
Gold is a famously soft metal, and this means that it can wear away very easily. A ring that has been worn for years may have serious wear on the inner side.
However, if the gold has worn away, look for any discoloration. This can indicate that what you’re holding is gold-plated rather than actual gold, so look for any other metals under the worn spots.
3. Test Your Gold With Nitric Acid
If you feel comfortable working with chemicals, you can get a gold-testing kit that contains nitric acid. If you’re going to buy gold, investing in one of these is well worth it.
To perform a nitric acid test, you will use a needle to make a small scratch in the gold, then drip some acid into the scratch.
If you’ve got genuine gold, there won’t be any reaction at all.
If the nitric acid produces a milky liquid, you’ve got gold-plated silver, and if it produces a gold liquid, you’ve got gold-plated brass.
If you’re going to perform this test, make sure to work in a well-ventilated area.
Perform a Scratch Test
You can also use a stone called a touchstone to test with nitric acid. You will need to drip different strengths of nitric acid onto various parts of the stone and then scratch the gold across the stone.
This test can show the purity of your gold, once you’ve established that it’s real gold.
Take a look and see which strength of acid leaves streaks on the stone. The weakest acid that leaves a streak will indicate the purity of your gold: for instance, 16-karat nitric acid will not leave a streak if you’ve got 24-karat gold.
4. Test Your Gold With Water
You can use water to test your gold, too. Real gold should sink in a jug of water, as gold is a very dense metal.
If the gold floats, you have imitation gold. If you’re interested in learning what metal your item is made of, you can compare the gold’s density with the density of other metals.
5. Test Your Gold With a Magnet
If you have a strong magnet or electromagnet, you can test your jewelry to see whether it’s real gold or not.
Real gold is not magnetic, so won’t be attracted to the magnet. However, this isn’t necessarily foolproof, as a gold alloy may still be attracted to the magnet, depending on the magnet’s strength.
6. Is the Gold Soft?
Real gold is soft and malleable, which means that it can be hammered into very thin sheets, with the smallest sheet of metal being just two atoms thick.
This means that real gold should be malleable and easy to flatten with a hammer or other tools. If the gold is firm or hard, you’ve not got pure gold.
Take note that gold jewelry is very rarely made from pure gold, due to its softness, so this method only works with pure gold coins or bars.
7. Test Your Gold With Liquid Foundation
If you don’t have access to any of the materials or chemicals that we’ve mentioned so far, one way to test gold is with a liquid foundation.
To do this, you need to apply a bit of liquid foundation to your skin, then rub the gold across it.
If you’re left with a black mark on your skin, the gold is probably real.
8. Go to a Professional
All the ways that we’ve detailed can tell whether you have real gold or not but the most foolproof way is to take the gold to a jeweler.
These professionals have access to all the necessary tools to tell whether the gold is real. They also have a lot more experience than you do with gold, which means that they’re more easily able to spot fake gold.
How to Tell if Gold Is Real: Solved
We hope that you now know how to tell if gold is real or not. Recognizing whether you have real gold or not is very important, especially if you plan on selling your gold since the gold’s purity will determine the price that you can sell it for.
For more great informative articles like this one, check out the rest of our blog.