5 At Home Tests to Determine If Your Gold is Real
Wondering about your gold? Purchasing gold jewelry is an investment. Gold jewelry is valued based on its karat content, with lower numbers (like 14k or 10k) meaning less gold and therefore less valuable than say 18k or 22k. When purchasing gold, it’s important to purchase from reputable jewelers. Not only are they transparent about their process and sourcing, but you’re also sure to get the real deal. But what if you aren’t sure if that piece you just purchased is gold or plated? Or maybe you’ve found some gold jewelry you aren’t sure of and want to test it out. When performing at home tests, it’s important to perform multiple tests because one test isn’t sufficient to make a conclusion.
The Magnet Test
Using a strong magnet, hold it up to the piece. Gold is a noble metal, therefore it won’t react to a magnet. Plated pieces on the other may display weak magnetic fields because of their base metals.
The Float Test
Fill a cup or bowl with water and drop the piece in. Gold is dense and won’t float. If you’ve dropped the piece in water and it didn’t sink right to the bottom, the piece isn’t truly gold.
The Scratch Test
Using unglazed ceramic, scratch the gold piece across. Gold will leave gold scratch marks behind whereas other metals will show up black or may not leave any mark at all.
Check for Hallmarks
Take a good look at the piece itself. Legally, gold should be stamped with its purity value. This may appear as a karat number (14, 18, 22, etc) or the percentage of gold (585, 750, 916, etc). Also check for any letters following the purity value. Gold plated and gold filled should be indicated with GP or GF.
The Acid Test
You’ll need some nitric acid for this test. Rub your gold on a black stone. Apply the nitric acid to the mark. Nitric acid won’t dissolve gold but it will dissolve other base metals.
By performing multiple tests, you can safely assume whether or not your piece is gold. However, the only true way to know to know if it’s gold and the value is to have it examined by a professional jeweler. When in doubt, it’s always best to leave it to the professionals.