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How To Tell If Gold Is Real

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Knowing how to tell if gold is real will help you when you are ready to sell scrap gold or if you just want to know what your item is worth. If you need to know how to tell real gold, these five simple gold tests will show you if you have real or fake gold.

1. The Hallmark Test

how to tell if gold is realNearly 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 your 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 your gold jewelry does not have one of the fake gold markings as seen in the box on the right. If your gold jewelry does not have a real gold jewelry hallmark at all, the tests below will help.

2. Nitric Acid Test

how to tell real goldIf you are dealing with strictly scrap gold, you can 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 you see green. Gold-over-sterling will leave a milky substance when nitric acid is applied.

3. Liquid Foundation Test

The liquid foundation test is not as reliable as some, but it is a good indicator as to whether your gold is real or fake. Plus, you probably already have some liquid foundation handy. Apply liquid foundation and powder to your forehead. Rub your gold jewelry across the area. If a black streak is left behind, it is probably real gold.

4. Heaviness Test

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.

5. Magnetization Test

The magnet test is also a good test to determine if gold is real or fake. If your gold jewelry is attracted to a magnet, it is definitely not real gold. Still, this does not mean that there is no gold in your item, 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 you have no intention to sell it. If you are not near one of our stores, do your research online to find a competent and honest gold buyer and you’ll get an honest and fair assessment of the true value of your scrap gold.

Now that you have tested your gold,
Click here to learn how to tell what your gold is worth!
Click here to call the Gold Kings nearest you!

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