How to tell if gold is real

Posted at 06:00h in Gold

In need of quick cash? One of the most common items pawned for quick cash is gold. It can be difficult to distinguish real solid gold pieces from gold plated or fashion jewelry by sight alone, though.

So what is the best way to determine if your gold is real and can be pawned for money? The hands down best way is to take your gold jewelry to a certified jeweler or licensed pawn shop that buys gold, and have it tested. Keep in mind that anything that tests less than 10 karats is not considered real gold.

How to test if gold is real

If you are curious right now about whether or not your gold is real, here are 4 of the most common home tests you can try to test if your gold is real. Beware not all gold tests are fool proof.

4 Ways to Test if your Gold is Real

  • Take a bite out of it. We’ve all heard you can check if gold is real by biting down on it. If it is real gold, your teeth will leave bite marks.
    • While the above is true, it is important to consider that even gold-plated items will show indents from bite marks.
    • This gold test method is not recommended as it can cause damage to your teeth.
  • Take a peek. Gold pieces often have engravings or markings verifying the karat of the gold.
    • Unfortunately, counterfeiters are smart and can easily engrave a fake piece to make it look as if it’s real gold.
    • Engravings may fade after years of wear and no longer be visible.
  • Discoloration is a major sign of a counterfeit piece. If there are any areas where the color of the gold is wearing off and you can see other metal peeking through, it is gold plated at best. Discoloration typically occurs on the edges of jewelry pieces where there is constant friction.
  • Get a magnet! For this gold test to work, you are going to need a magnet stronger than your typical refrigerator magnet. If the gold piece sticks to the magnet, it is not real. Gold is NOT magnetic.
    • Unfortunately, this is also not a fool-proof gold test as counterfeit gold pieces can be made with non-magnetic metal as well.

In short, leave the gold testing to the pros. If you want to be certain your gold piece is 100% gold, find a local certified jeweler or stop in our store.

Some Ways to Tell if  if Your Jewelry is Made from Real Gold

spotting real gold in rings

1. Does Your Jewelry have a Hallmark?

An easy way to tell if gold is real is if there is a hallmark that tells you about the piece. The hallmark will indicate the karat weight (such as 14 or 24 karat), and a lot of jewelry pieces will have a stamp like this to indicate that the gold is real. This karat weight system can help indicate the amount of gold that is present in a piece. 24 karat gold is pure gold, whereas a lower karat indicates a fraction that represents the amount of gold in the piece. For example, something that is 10 karat gold would be 10/24 units of gold, meaning it’s less than half gold. Other systems use different markings that indicate the percentages in the form of a decimal, which can be easier to interpret.

Not all jewelry has these markings, so the absence of a hallmark does not always mean the piece is fake, but it can possibly be an indication. Sometimes if jewelry has been previously repaired or resized, these markings can be on the pieces that were removed or repaired so they may not be visible anymore or may be gone altogether.

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It’s also important to note that some really good fake pieces of jewelry will even have a convincing fake hallmark or stamp, so even this method can be flawed. The best way to know for sure is to take it to a dealer  or a repair specialist to  have them inspect it.

2. Visually Inspect your Jewelry

Another way to visually inspect your jewelry is to see if there is any visible discoloration. If there is another color showing through (such as a copper or silver color) it is a good indication that your piece of jewelry is gold plated. Something that is solid gold will not experience this kind of discoloration due to the fact that there are not layers of other metals underneath the gold.

There are some tests that are better for pieces that are intended to be scrap gold. Nitric acid can be used on a fine scratch to see if there is a reaction. If there is no reaction, it means the gold is probably real. Certain reactions, such as a green or milky color can indicate that something is gold-plated or made of another type of metal. This can be dangerous to do on your own, so it is not recommended unless you have the right tools and protection. This method is only recommended for scrap pieces because it can leave marks behind, so it’s not a good idea to try this on jewelry that you want to keep for aesthetic reasons.

Gold is a very heavy metal, so if it’s placed into water it should sink to the bottom. Some fake gold is made of lighter metals, so it will float when placed in water. Seeing if your jewelry sinks is another good way to test if it’s real without risk of damaging the actual jewelry if it’s nice or delicate.

Gold is not magnetic, so another test you can do is holding your jewelry up to a magnet. If it is attracted to the magnet it is most likely fake. This test, however, is not always 100% accurate due to the fact that real gold can be mixed with more magnetic materials. A piece sticking to a magnet does not necessarily mean that the entire piece is fake, but that if there is real gold it’s likely mixed with something else. Pure gold will not be attracted to a magnet at all.

3. Conduct a Test

Another interesting test to try is known as the “liquid foundation test.” This test is not always the most reliable but it can be a fun one to try. If the gold is rubbed over liquid foundation, a black streak will be left behind if the gold is real. Sometimes, if someone has low iron, the gold can be rubbed directly on their forehead. Real gold will sometimes leave a black mark behind similar to the foundation test. While it doesn’t always work, it’s an easy test to try at home if you have liquid foundation on hand.

A similar test to this can be done with an unglazed ceramic plate. You can scratch the surface of the plate with the jewelry and if it leaves a gold streak behind this means your jewelry is most likely gold. If a black streak is left behind, the piece is likely fake.

4. Have Your Jewelry Appraised

The best way to find out if your gold jewelry is real or fake is to bring it to a reputable appraiser, repair specialist, or dealer. Someone like this will have the right tools to be able to tell for sure whether your gold is real. If the aesthetic appearance of the jewelry is important, it’s a vintage piece, a family heirloom, or even if you’re just unsure of some of these tests, bringing the piece to a reputable dealer can be the best way to know whether or not it’s real without risking any damage to the piece itself.

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We hope that this guide will help you to break down whether you have a real piece or gold or not. At Quick Jewelry Repairs, we have various appraisal services where we can determine if your piece is fake or not as well as its worth.


For examining gold of 24 carat and above, a density test should prove sufficient; this method can be used to spot poorly made fakes. On the other hand, in cases where gold of lesser purity must be tested, and for testing bars sold in Certipacks, it is desirable to use more sophisticated technologies even though these are more costly. A reputable precious metal dealer will give their clients a chance to take advantage of such professional devices.

The American Eagle - 1 ounce of silver

16.41 EUR

The Australian Kangaroo - 1 ounce of silver

15.91 EUR

The Koala - 1 ounce of silver

17.04 EUR

Descriptions of methods involving the examination of the surfaces of an item (i.e. spectrometry or x-ray fluorescence) have been omitted here. Some of these methods are very precise and useful but only for the testing of very homogenous structures (i.e. items that, in every point of their structure, have the same quantity of constituent metals) – and so they can be useful after the melting of the item to be examined. They make it possible to find out the exact constituents of the examined surface: i.e. the proportions of the constituent metals.

Find out what opportunities gives you gold

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How To Tell If Gold Is Real

Here are a few tips to follow to make sure you are buying real gold.

  1. Gold and Silver are NOT magnetic therefore if the jewelry sticks to a magnet you can know immediately it is not gold.
  2. Look for Hallmarks, jewelry should be stamped 10k (417), 14k (585), or 18k(750). If the jewelry is stamped with EP or GP it means it is plated.
  3. Gold will never turn green, or have a bronze color. If you see green spots or the piece looks dull, faded, a color between copper and bronze it is not real gold.
  4. If it looks extremely exaggerated yellow, or  a really heavy piece, it most likely is not gold.

How To Tell If Gold Is Real | Other Factors To Consider:

  1. Do Not buy any gold from someone selling it on the streets. Most likely it is a scam with bad intentions. If it seems too good to be true, it’s probably not true.
  2. If your purchasing gold at a jewelry store ask the sales associate if the piece is solid gold or is it gold plated?
  3. Have the sales associate test the jewelry in front of you before you pay.
  4. Ask how many karats / purity the piece you are buying is. Gold comes in 10k, 14k, or 18k,  the higher the karat the more value it has.

If you are in the Los Angeles County area you are always welcomed to bring in your jewelry and we will test and authenticate for you.

Authenticate My Gold Jewelry

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I had just finished a walking tour of the Royal Canadian Mint when I saw it. Right there, out in the open, was a 400-ounce bar of pure gold.

It was chained to a display table and kept safe by an armed guard. At the time, in 2005, the bar was worth $220,000.

Today, the same bar is worth $526,700. In just nine years, gold prices have jumped by 296.1% – and that's even with the 28% plummet the yellow metal saw last year.

But it's not the eternal fascination with gold that has boosted the price. With growing levels of worldwide uncertainties, mounting inflation risks, and government distrust, people are clamoring for gold primarily as insurance.


According to the World Gold Council, world gold demand was 4,080 tonnes in 2013, an 8.8% increase over 2005. In the first quarter of 2014, gold demand came in at 1,074.5 tonnes, maintaining the robust levels seen in 2013.

With the market for gold growing at a feverish pace, it's now more important than ever to know that your gold is the real deal – especially now that gold has begun to show signs of a strong rebound.

Here's why…

Gold counterfeiting is nothing new. In fact, just yesterday (Thursday) two suspects were caught in New York for multiple incidents of selling fake American Gold Eagle gold coins on Craigslist.

But rest assured there are a number of methods you can use to mitigate the risks of ending up with counterfeit gold. Some are simple, quick, and inexpensive. Others are more elaborate, detailed, and not so readily accessible.

Here's how to tell if your gold is real…

Seven Tests That Determine Your Gold's Authenticity

Fake Gold Test No. 1: Size

Whether we're talking about coins, wafers, or bars, the producers of these items usually have very exacting standards. So a little research goes a long way to making sure you get what you expect.

Find out what the true dimensions of the item should be, and then compare them to what you have.

To do this, buy yourself a good-quality pair of calipers so that you can measure the diameter, thickness, or other dimension of your gold item very precisely.

Gold is a very dense metal, so some counterfeiters may make a coin in a wider diameter, in order to compensate for a less dense metal. If you compare gold to iron, it takes twice the volume of iron to equal the same weight of gold.

Plating other metals with gold still allows them to match the proper weight, but the size would be off. The difference could be very minor, but if you know what to look for, you can spot the fake.

Fake Gold Test No. 2: Magnetic

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Magnet Test

This is, perhaps, the most convenient test in the list, although not even this one is totally foolproof. All you need to do is place a magnet near your jewelry. Since gold is not responsive to magnet, the item should not stick to it. Just make sure the magnet you use is strong enough, so don’t place your trust in those you have on your fridge.

Bear in mind that the gold we wear is mixed with some alloys to make it more durable, because pure gold is a soft metal. Counterfeiters can very easily use non-magnetic metals in their jewelry.

wedding-ring-design-for-men-1414Genuine gold does not show signs of discoloration.

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