How to Determine If Gold Is Real or Fake

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Since the discovery of gold and its establishment as a valuable and highly sought after metal, there been those that have desired to replicate its appearance and deceive others into paying extortionate prices for a cheap substitute material. Thankfully for consumers, there are a number of ways in which determine if gold is real or not.

1) The Magnet Test

In contrast to most other metals, real gold is not magnetic and will not be drawn to a magnet. This test can easily be done at home, using a suitably powerful magnet. (If the magnet is too small and weak, you won’t be able to tell whether your gold is in fact real, or if the magnet is simply too feeble to attract the metal). It’s important to point out however, that the magnet test does not necessarily provide a definitive answer, as there are a number of artificial materials that are also not magnetic. To be certain, it’s a good idea to also test it using the other methods listed here.

2) Hallmark

Whether it’s jewellery, coins or bullion, practically all gold is engraved with its respective weight value. In America, the hallmark displays the weight of the gold in karats, such as 18K or 24K, which describes the gold’s purity in parts per 24, while the European standard lists the gold’s purity as a decimal, where .75 would be the equivalent of 18 karat gold (18/24). Once again however, the absence of a hallmark does not provide unequivocal proof that the gold is indeed counterfeit.

3) Discolouration

For items of jewellery that are worn each day, such as engagement rings, the rigours of daily chores and activities can cause discolouration of the metal. If this occurs, it signifies that the jewellery is most likely gold plated, rather than solid gold. Likewise, if you discover that the jewellery leaves a mild green or black stain on your skin, then it is not genuine gold.

4) Nitric Acid Test

First, as Nitric acid is a corrosive and poisonous liquid, it’s important that this test is conducted using appropriate protective gear. Consult with your chemical supplier to ensure maximum safety. This test is often performed by the jewellers themselves, to accurately assess the validity of gold material. It simply involves pouring a slight amount of acid onto the gold surface and waiting for the results of the subsequent reaction.

If contact with the acid results in a greenish hue, then this is most means that your ‘gold’ is in fact a common metal, such as copper or zinc, that has been gold plated. If contact with the acid instead creates a whitish colour, then this is mostly indicative of a gold plated silver. If your gold really is genuine, there shouldn’t be any change in composition or colour at all, upon contact with the acid.

5) The Ceramic Test

Another quick and easy procedure to test if your gold is real or not is to drag the gold against a piece of ceramic, such as a tile or plate. If the gold is authentic, it will leave a gold coloured smear. If it’s fake, the resulting smear will be black. It should be noted however, that performing this test could tarnish your gold jewellery (of most concern, if it is in fact real gold).

6) Expert Evaluation

If you’re still not entirely sure if your gold is real or artificial, the best thing to do is have it assessed by a trustworthy jeweller. You’ll note the word trustworthy, as you would not be guaranteed an entirely honest review by a merchant who makes a living out of buying and selling jewellery, for example. For a minor fee, you will be able to learn if your gold is authentic or fake, with absolute certainty.

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