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Jewellery Guide

How to Identify Real Gold Like A Pro

Gold is an expensive and valuable metal which can often be imitated (badly) in metal blends and fake jewellery. According to international standards, any jewellery consisting less than 10 karats of gold is considered fake. If you’re wondering whether your gold is real or not, then the best and easiest way is to visit a local trusted jeweller. However, you can do the identification on your own by inspecting and conducting a few tests. By doing so, you can learn about its realness which can come in handy if you wish to sell it to earn money from a gold buyer in Toronto or other parts of the GTA.

Our experts are going over all the identification methods in this blog-post to help you spot fake gold at home.

Visual Inspection

  • Find out the official number marking

This marking is also known as a hallmark that reveals the percentage of gold present in your jewellery. This is usually present in the inner bands of rings or jewellery clasps. The number in the stamp may range from zero to twenty-four karat based on the grading system that is used. You can use a magnifying glass to identify the hallmark if you can’t spot it with your eyes. Also, remember that this mark can wear off over time.

  • Search for a letter marking the impurity

When people can’t afford real gold jewellery, they usually opt for mixed items.  These are marked with a few common letters such as GP (gold plated), GF (gold filled) and GEP (gold electroplate). They indicate that the gold piece is plated which means other metals like copper or silver is covered with a thin layer of gold. However, this stuff may not be considered as real and you may not get any resale value.

  • Look for any discolouration

Though pure gold may not react to sweat or the skin’s natural oil, the presence of other metals like brass or silver can leave marks on your skin. This is because gold is soft and it has to be mixed with other metals to make it sturdy. Copper can leave green stains while silver can lead to black blemishes. But too many of these marks may signify that the gold is unreal.

Conducting a Density Test

  • Weigh your item on a scale

You need to use a decent kitchen scale to determine the weight of your gold jewellery. Place it on this device and observe the weight. However, if you decide to get it done by a local jeweller, make sure you get the mass in grams that can be used in a calculation later.

  • Fill half a cup with water

Use a container with measurements in millilitres (ml) and centimetres (cm) that can fit your jewellery along with water. Avoid filling the vial to the top to prevent water spilling when you drop the gold in it.

Fake Gold Test – Using Water

  • Read the initial water level

Before dropping the gold in the water, record its level for further measurements that will be done later. Always remember to keep the container on a flat surface to get an accurate result.

  • Drop the gold in the water and record the new level

You need to be very careful when you drop the gold in the water to prevent loss of any water which is important for calculation. Read and note the new measurement which will be required later.

  • Subtract the levels to see the difference in the water level

You have got two measurements now, so subtract the smaller number from the final measurement to get the figure that will signify the quantity of water that the gold has displaced. For instance, if you started with 17 ml of water that rose to 18 ml after the immersion of gold, then that leaves a 1-ml difference.

  • Split the gold’s weight by the difference in the water level

Use the subtracted number and divide it with the weight of the gold as measured earlier. After the calculation, if the figure is higher than its standard density then the gold can be fake. For instance, an 18K gold has an average density from 15.2 to 15.9 g/ml.

Performing a Nitric Acid Test  

  • Buy a gold-testing kit

This kit consists of several bottles of nitric acid that can be used for different types of gold like 18K, 20K and 22K. It can also include a flat rock that can help in the later tests. Order it online or purchase it from a local shop.

Fake Gold Test – Using Nitric Acid

  • Use a sharp tool to make a small scratch on the gold

Scratch a small part on your jewellery like an inner band until you get the top layer of gold with a sharp tool. You can also ask for professional help if you’re unsure of this method.

  • Add a drop of nitric acid

Wear latex gloves and place the gold item in a stainless-steel container. Then add a drop of nitric acid on the scratch and wait for a reaction. If it turns green, then the gold is unreal or the presence of other metals are more.

Some Important Easy Testing Methods

  • Drop the gold in a jug full of water

Use a container that is big enough to hold water and your jewellery. Drop your item on the bucket and observe whether it falls to the bottom or not. This is because real gold is a dense metal and can fall directly to the bottom, whereas, imitation or gold-plated items are lighter and can float.

  • Hold a strong magnet

Use a powerful neodymium magnet and hold it over your gold jewellery. If it sticks then it may be impure as real gold isn’t magnetic. But this test may not be useful as gold can be mixed with other metals like iron which is magnetic.

Fake Gold Test – Using a Magnet

  • Rub the gold on an unglazed stoneware

Buy an unglazed piece of ceramic tile or plate and drag your gold item on it. If you notice any black streak on your precious metal, then it may not be pure. This is one of the safest ways to identify real gold as it may not leave any noticeable damage, unlike acids used in other methods.

That’s how you can identify real gold like an expert. You can choose any of the above-mentioned methods and get the result that you’ve been waiting for. If you’re not confident enough, you can approach a gold buyer or any local jewellery shop in Toronto or other parts of the GTA to conduct the job.

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