There are a few different methods of testing your ‘gold’ items to see whether they are genuine or not. Some are obviously more reliable than others, however, they all have their own benefits to identifying whether it is real or not.
The first method, and probably the simplest in trying to work out whether your gold is legitimate, is looking for a hallmark. Nearly all real gold is stamped with a hallmark that notes the karat weight of the jewellery. This hallmark can normally be found on the clasp of bracelets and necklaces, and in the inner band of a ring. American made gold jewellery is measured in karats, so the item should have a stamp on it with a number followed by the letter K. This number represents how many parts per 24 is made up from gold, for example, 14k would indicate the jewellery has 14/24 parts gold. European systems mark the gold quantity as a decimal, so .585 would equal 58.5% of the jewellery’s content is made up of gold. 24 karat gold is represented as .999 or 1.000 in the European system and as 24k in American jewellery.
Another method would be to use the nitric acid test. Nitric acid can be bought from several online stores, however, you must take caution when using this method as the acid itself is highly corrosive. To test your gold items this way, you must first make a small scratch on the metal using a nail file. It is recommended that you do this on the inner band of a ring or in a non-obvious place on the item, so as not to ruin it. Once the scratch has been made, use a dropper to apply a small amount of nitric acid to the metal. If there is no reaction, it is likely the item is real gold. If the metal turns slightly green, this indicates another metal or even a gold-plated item. Gold over sterling will produce a milky substance.
A less reliable way to test gold items would be by dropping them in water. Gold is quite a heavy metal and therefore will sink in the glass. If your gold item floats it is likely made from ‘fool’s gold. Similarly, testing the item with a magnet could also work. If the item is attracted to the magnet it is likely fake. However, this does not mean there is no gold content in the jewellery, it could just mean there is a low gold content.
A common item found in many homes is liquid foundation, and surprisingly you can even use this to test the legitimacy of your gold. Apply the liquid foundation and powder to your forehead and then take the gold item and rub it across the area. If this leaves a black streak on your head, it is not likely that the item is real gold.
These techniques can possibly work at identifying whether or not your gold is real or not, however, the most effective way to identify your items would be to bring them in for testing with us. We don’t charge fees and if you decide you don’t want to sell with us once your gold has been tested, it is returned to you free of charge.