Knowing how to tell if gold is real or fake will help when you are ready to sell scrap gold or if you just want to know what a piece of gold jewelry is worth. These five simple gold tests will show you if you have real or fake gold.
Nearly all real gold is stamped with a gold jewelry hallmark, like 10K or 14K, that notes the karat (purity) of the jewelry. This stamp is usually found on the clasp of a gold necklace or gold bracelet, gold ring as seen in this picture. However, if gold jewelry does not have a hallmark- it is not necessarily proof that the item is not real gold. This is particularly true of older gold jewelry. Make sure gold jewelry does not have one of the fake gold markings as seen in the box on the right. If gold jewelry does not have a real gold jewelry hallmark at all, the tests below will help.
If dealing with strictly scrap gold, use the nitric acid test to determine if it is real or fake gold. Nitric acid gold kits can be purchased on ebay for about $15 with free shipping. Search for "Gold acid test kit." To perform this test to tell if gold is real, make a light, tiny scratch on the item using a small nail file. Choose a spot that is not noticeable if possible. Use a dropper to apply a small drop of nitric acid to the scratch. If there is no reaction, then the piece is probably made from real gold. You are most likely dealing with another metal or even a gold-plated or gold clad item if it is green. Gold-over-sterling will leave a milky substance when nitric acid is applied.
The liquid foundation test is not as reliable as some, but it is a good indicator as to whether gold is real or fake. Plus, you probably already have some liquid foundation handy. Apply liquid foundation and powder to your forehead. Rub the gold jewelry across the area. If a black streak is left behind, it is probably real gold.
Drop your gold item into a jug of water. Real gold is a heavy metal. Real gold should sink. Any piece of jewelry that floats is likely fake gold.
The magnet test is also a good test to determine if gold is real or fake. If gold jewelry is attracted to a magnet, it is definitely not real gold. Still, this does not mean that there is no gold in it, just that it is not made with a substantial amount of real gold.
The best way to tell if gold is real or not is to take it bring it to Gold Kings. We will not charge anything to test gold jewelry even if there is no intention to sell it. If you are not near one of our stores, research online to find a competent and honest gold buyer to get an honest and fair assessment of the true value of the scrap gold.