Are you fond of collecting gold jewelry and ornaments? Are you looking to invest in gold this 2021?
Studies show that more and more Americans are turning into gold bugs. In turn, gold has become one of the best-performing assets this year.
Gold is one of the most valuable and sought-after traditional resources. However, many jewelers have found ways to make fake gold over the years. Metal alloys are much more rampant nowadays, so how do you know if you have real gold?
Want to know how to tell if gold is real? Whether you’re a jewelry collector or looking to invest, this is the article for you. Read on to discover how you can secure your gold investments.
The Stamp Test
Do you think you have a golden ring heirloom in your hands? Gold jewelry pieces often come engraved with hallmarks. These hallmarks are stamps that identify the jewelry’s manufacturer and content.
If you have a gold ring, you may find it inside the ring. These hallmarks will help you determine the gold’s purity level. Identifying its manufacturer will also allow you to verify its credibility and authenticity.
Here are some common hallmarks you’ll find on gold:
- Valid purity numbers using the Karat system
- Valid purity numbers using the Millesimal Fineness system
- The manufacturer name of code
If your gold shows a number apart from those under the listed purity systems, you may have fake gold. For example, numbers like 950, 925, and 800 refer to silver, not gold. If you have a jewelry piece with this hallmark, it may have a sterling silver base with gold plating.
Familiarize yourself with purity numbers to determine if your gold is real. However, since anyone can add hallmarks, take this tip with a grain of salt.
Look for Letting Markings
Another great way to identify real gold is with letter markings. These will identify how much gold a manufacturer used to cover another metal to make it look gold. This means that pieces with letting markings are actually gold-plated, not real gold.
Here’s a list of the different markings and what they mean:
- GP or Gold Plated
- GE or Gold Electroplated
- GEP or Gold Electro Plated
- GF or Gold Filled
- HGP or Heavy Gold Plated, and
- HEG or Heavy Gold Electroplated
If you’re looking for real gold, avoid pieces that have these markings. Familiarizing yourself with these markings will help you avoid fake gold if you’re browsing a jewelry shop.
Trial by Nitric Acid
If you’re investing in scrap gold, consider performing the nitric acid test. It’s important to note that you must never use the nitric acid test on jewelry you want to keep or sell. Before doing this test, ensure to perform the necessary preventive measures.
Nitric acid can be an explosive chemical depending on your environment. Prepare gloves, goggles, and ensure you have enough proper ventilation before the test. To start the nitric acid test, use a small nail file to place a light scratch on the gold item.
If possible, try to choose a spot that isn’t immediately noticeable. After creating the scratch, use an eyedropper to place a small drop of nitric acid onto it.
If nothing happens, you most likely have real gold. No chemical reaction occurs when authentic gold comes into contact with nitric acid. It does, however, react to other metal alloys like zinc, sterling silver, and copper.
You may not have real gold on your hands if you see a greenish reaction from the nitric acid. If you have a gold-plated silver sterling piece, you may notice a milky substance.
One of the most common facts about gold is that it has a density of about 19.3 grams per milliliter. If you want to test a gold piece, find a scale that measures in grams. You will also need a container with milliliter markings for a more accurate density test.
The closer the gold piece is to 19.3 g/ML, the more authentic gold it contains. Weigh the gold piece and note it down in grams. Place the container on a flat surface and fill it with water.
Stop when it’s half-full. Note down how many milliliters the container contains, then lower the gold item. Ensure to do so carefully, so water doesn’t splash out of it.
Use the markings to determine the new water level. Subtract both measurements to determine how much water your gold item displaced. The difference is equal to the item’s volume.
With the new volume, divide it by your item’s weight. This is a great test to determine how much real gold your item contains.
However, remember that some metals have a similar weight to gold. Thus, the nitric acid test may be a good guide, but it’s not foolproof.
Go to a Jeweler
If you want to play it safe and save time and effort, it’s best to go to a jeweler. Going to the jewelers is the best place to sell gold and the safest way to determine if it’s real. The above methods are good guides, but there’s always room for error.
Reputable jewelers often have the necessary testing tools that regular people may not. Jewelers also have years of experience dealing with all kinds of fake and real metals.
Invest in a Gold Testing Machine
If you’re planning on investing in gold in the long term, consider getting a gold testing machine. Unlike some methods listed above, these can help you identify real gold without the potential of damage. These machines can come in two forms: an XRF spectrometer and an electronic tester.
Your machine will send electromagnetic waves or X-rays through your gold. After analyzing how the waves interact with the piece, you’ll have your result in seconds. XRF spectrometer machines are often faster and more accurate.
Tips on How to Tell If Gold is Real
Now you know how to tell if gold is real. More Americans have been looking into buying real gold, whether for future investments or fashion. Join the gold bug train with these tips on how to tell if gold is real.
Are you looking for some tips on buying and selling gold? Check out our other blog posts to discover more great tips.