People often have gold lying around the house that they’re not sure if it’s real or not. To the average person, it might be difficult to tell the difference if they don’t know what to look for.
Fake gold is also sometimes referred to as gold-filled (GF), gold plated (GP), or heavy gold electroplate (GEP). The difference between fake and real gold is obviously that the former is worthless.
So, here are a few tips to help you distinguish between real gold and fake gold.
Check for the Hallmark
Most real gold is stamped with a hallmark that indicates the karat weight of the jewelry. In American-made jewelry, it is expressed in karats, 24K being the highest grade, meaning it’s 100% pure gold.
While the European system expresses the gold content in decimals. So, “.500” is 50% pure and “.900” or “.1000” is 100% pure gold. Although it is a simple way to distinguish between fake and real, it alone isn’t necessarily proof.
Similarly, if the item has the letters GF, GP, or GEP stamped on some part of it, it means that it is not real gold. It’s a major factor to look for when choosing to buy gold from an unauthorized dealer.
Test the Item’s Density
To find the density of your item, get a scale that measures in grams and a spacious container that has markings in milliliters. Firstly, weigh your item and note its weight in grams. Next, half-fill your container with water and record its volume in milliliters. Lower the item into the container and note the new water level. Subtracting the first value from the second will tell you the volume of the item.
Now you can find its density by dividing its weight and volume. For instance, if it weighs 50 grams and its volume is 2.6, then its density will be 19.2 g/mL. The density of real gold is 19.3 g/mL, so the closer it is to this number, the higher the chances of it being real gold.
Nitric Acid Test
A popular method for telling if gold is real is through a nitric acid test. It’s important to note that this test could damage your item if it’s not real gold so don’t use this test if you plan to keep it or sell gold items.
Start with a tiny scratch on the item. Use a dropper to apply a small amount of nitric acid to the spot. If you see green, it means you’re dealing with a different metal or a gold-plated metal. If there’s no reaction at all, it most likely means the item is made of real gold.
Use a Strong Magnet
A magnet test is a quick way to tell if you have a real gold item or not. Use a strong magnet in front of your item, if it is attracted to the magnet, then it’s not real gold. This could still mean that there’s a little amount of gold but not substantial enough.
Get a Professional Appraisal
The most certain way to tell if your gold is real or not is by going to a reputable jewelry store. If you’re not convinced by the tests you’ve conducted on your own, a gold dealer can give you a fair assessment of its actual value.
They have professional testing kits that can tell if something is real or fake without a doubt but most will charge a small fee to do it.