Wondering if there is a way for you to tell if the gold jewelry in your jewelry collection is actually made of real gold or not?
Well, the answer is yes, and you will be happy to know that this precious metal is considered one of the most precious metals and also the most beautiful materials in the world.
Gold jewelry is, therefore, the kind of jewelry that anyone would love to invest in and wear. Unfortunately, gold is quite expensive and not affordable to everyone, which means that most people donning gold jewelry are actually wearing fake and gold plated or gold-filled jewelry.
If, however, you spent a good chunk of money or just came across an expensive-looking gold jewelry piece from your grandma’s jewelry box, you may want to test the gold jewelry for authenticity.
The good news is that you can test your gold jewelry at home really easy, and this guide will give you some insights into how to test the gold jewelry at home.
But first, some basics about gold and gold jewelry.
Properties of Gold
Gold is a precious metal that has been around for thousands of years, and societies all around the world have used it for just about anything from currency and jewelry.
And it’s also been incorporated into architecture and décor. And in some of the ancient civilizations, gold was believed to have some healing powers.
Some of the properties of gold, besides the fact that it is highly prized for its beauty thanks to its warm-yellow tone and the natural shines, is the fact that gold is versatile, useful, and malleable.
Gold is also quite easy to work with, meaning it is used to create some of the most elaborate jewelry designs, and you can incorporate all kinds of gemstones on the gold pieces. It’s also quite flexible hence its use in gold leafing and gold plating. Its resistance to tarnishing is also impressive.
So, how do you test for real gold at home?
How to tell if gold jewelry is real at home
1.The Stamp Test
First on the list is the stamp test, which is the fastest and the easiest way of testing the authenticity of the gold pieces. In this test, you will be looking for the engraved hallmark on the jewelry piece in question.
For the stamp test, you need to check the specifics of the stamp, which point to the manufacturer’s details, as well as the metal content.
You may need to use a magnifying glass to scope out the hallmark, and in most cases, you would be looking out for it on the back and on the sides of the jewelry in question.
In this test, the hallmark for you to look out for would be the numbers that are often specified in either the Karat system or the 3-digit Millesimal Fineness System.
You may also find the listed purity numbers on the jewelry. Note that if the numbers stamped on the jewelry are numbers other than the expected karat system numbers, then that piece of jewelry is most likely a fake piece.
The catch is that this method is not completely foolproof because some manufacturers are able to fake the hallmark stamps.
Some of the markings you need to look out for are the letting markings. These markings include the marks GP, GE, GF, GEP, HEG, or HGP; any of these markings point to a piece of gold jewelry that is fake and not made of solid gold.
These markings are often used on the gold-filled and the gold-plated pieces of jewelry – these contain a very small percentage of gold but not real solid gold. GP symbolizes gold plated, GF represents gold-filled, while GEP means Gold Electroplate.
Keep in mind that solid pure gold is 24K gold that contains 99.9% pure gold, while 18K gold contains 75% gold, and 14K gold is 58.3% gold.
If you are looking for a simple, foolproof test for gold, the scratch test might be an ideal test for you to take. This test is also known as the ceramic scratch test.
For the test, you need an unglazed ceramic plate or some pieces of tile, then use it to scrape a piece of gold off the surface of the gold. Real, solid gold pieces will leave a gold-colored marking on them when scratched against the gold piece.
But be careful when doing this because the scratch may damage the gold piece if you scratch off a big chunk of the gold. Also, it may be safer to scratch the interior lining of the gold jewelry piece rather than the exterior or a section that would be more visible.
The other test for real gold jewelry is the float test. Also known as the density test, it is a great test because gold is a rather dense test, which means that one square foot of gold often weighs at least half a ton.
And so, real solid gold pieces almost never float. The gold piece of jewelry will most likely sink if you put it in a cup of water.
Gold’s density is about 19.3 grams per milliliter, and the closer the density of the item to be tested is to 19.3, the more it means that it’s most likely made of real gold.
And for you to determine the density of the piece, you’ll need to use a scale that takes measurement in grams, and perhaps a container with some markings in milliliters, and big enough to hold more than enough liquid.
When taking measurements of the weight of the gold jewelry, measure the weight in grams, then place the container on a flat surface and record how full the container is before lowering the piece of jewelry in the container, making sure that the water doesn’t splash and then not the new level of the water.
Now, subtract the initial measurement from the new measurements, and use this volume or the displacement to find the volume of the piece. Next, divide the volume by the weight to find the density.
6.Skin (Discoloration) Test
The other test for real gold you could try at home is the skin test. If you have owned a piece of jewelry that has ever discolored your skin, leaving a blue-green discoloration or perhaps a purple or black tint on your skin, you understand how frustrating some pieces of jewelry can be, and also that the color change points to the metal’s oxidation.
This often also tells you that the metal is cheap and fake. There will not be the case with real gold, though, meaning real gold will not discolor your skin at all.
For this test, wear the piece of gold jewelry on your bare skin for a few minutes, then see how the skin reacts. If you are looking at a piece of real gold, there will be no discoloration on the skin.
If, however, the gold piece comes in contact with a liquid foundation on your skin, then it may turn black at some point, and this would be a good thing. So, just wash your hands well before carrying out this test, just to make sure.
7.The Magnet Test
This is the other effective test for gold jewelry, and it will tell you if you have a real gold piece or a fake. The test is effective because of the non-magnetism of solid gold.
So, if the jewelry in question is not attracted to the strong magnet at all, it is made of real solid gold. And if it is attracted to the magnet, then it is not made of real solid gold.
That said, gold isn’t the only non-magnetic metal. Therefore, you need to run other tests besides the magnetic test to determine if the gold piece is real or not.
This is the other simple test that you could run to determine if the piece of jewelry is made of real solid gold or not. Run this test on an inconspicuous section of the gold jewelry, then apply a few drops of vinegar to the section.
If that jewelry is made of real gold, it will not show any change in color when exposed to vinegar, but a metal piece made of fake gold will show some color changes.
9.The Nitric Acid Test
Gold is one of the noble and inert metals, and this means that it is highly resistant to oxidation and wouldn’t be corroded when exposed to acids. This is the reason why solid gold pieces don’t change when exposed to vinegar. And it will not react with nitric acid too.
For the nitric acid test, you need to get the test kit online or from the nearest jewelry store. In this test, you need to rub the test item in a black stone until it leaves a small visible mark. Next, apply some nitric acid to the created mark.
Essentially, nitric acid should dissolve any base metals present in the jewelry or just any other metal that is not real gold. If it’s made of real gold pieces, the mark from the black stone will remain.
In this test, you need to take some precautions in advance; for example, you must gloves before the test because nitric acid is a dangerous and corrosive metal that you want to be careful when handling.
Besides gloves, you also need to wear goggles and make sure that the room is very well ventilated. Also, use a very small amount of acid to avoid damaging the gold jewelry. And if you are scared about hurting yourself, you might want to go to a professional jeweler for them to do the test for you.
The next step is to apply some aqua regia just to confirm the authenticity of the gold. Generally, aqua regia dissolves real gold.
This is the other test you could try to determine if the gold jewelry is real or not. And all you need is your liquid foundation. Although it is not the most reliable test, it is good enough, and it will tell you if the gold is fake or real/ solid.
All you need to do is to put a little liquid foundation on your skin, then blend it on the skin and allow the foundation to dry. Now, take the gold piece and then rub it on the area you have applied the foundation.
If the area with foundation turns black or if it leaves a black mark when you rub the gold piece on, then it means that the gold piece is made of pure/ solid gold. If, however, the rubbing causes no changes, then it’s not made of real gold.
Fail-Safe Gold Tests
The Gold Testing Machines
Thanks to the technology, there are some pretty neat, fast, and efficient ways of testing gold. All you need is the gold-testing machine. This machine makes it easy for you to quickly and easily identify the level of the genuineness of the gold or if it’s real gold or not.
For these tests, you will need either the electronic tester and/or the XRF spectrometer. Well, unless you are running a jewelry business, these machines can be very expensive.
The machines either send X-Rays or even electromagnetic waves that pass through the piece of gold, telling you if you have a real gold piece or not.
These machines would also analyze and record how the metals interact with the metals. And using the recorded information, the machine tells, in a matter of seconds, if the piece is real or not.
So, if you are looking for the fastest and the most accurate test for gold jewelry, and you don’t mind spending some money on the piece of jewelry, then this would be an ideal tester for you.
These are some of the best and most effective tests that you may use to determine the authenticity of the gold pieces right at home.
These tests are simple, and you may not have to spend much money to run the tests.
Read more useful tips here or here!
Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.