Many of us have seen old movies and TV shows where a character tries to determine whether a coin is gold by biting it. While there may actually have been a time when this was a useful means of testing gold, it is probably not something that you would want to try today, whether you are in a thrift shop looking to make a purchase or checking out jewellery at home. So how do you know if gold is real or fake?
Here are some simple home tests for gold, to help you determine if gold is real.
How To Identify Gold Hallmarks
The fastest and easiest way for you to verify whether gold is real is to simply look for an official stamp. This stamp will show how pure the gold is, measured in karats or fineness. In the case of the former, real gold will be marked 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, or 24k. If the stamp measures fineness, it should show a number between 1 and 999 or .1 and .999. Having a magnifying glass handy can help.
Of course, fake gold can have an authentic-looking stamp, and real gold may have endured wear and tear or repairs, making the stamp illegible, so this is just one way of checking.
What Does Real Gold Look Like?
Since you have your magnifying glass out from looking for hallmarks, continue to examine your gold. Look for any discoloration. If you find some, you may also discover other metals underneath. Genuine gold should not be discoloured and should have a soft yellow appearance. If the gold is tinted with another colour, or if it is too shiny, then it is not pure.
Real Gold Wont Discolour Your Skin
Since we mentioned discolouration, be aware that real gold will not discolour your skin. In order to test gold this way, simply hold it in your hand for a few moments. If it is fake, it may react with the sweat on your palms. This chemical reaction will cause your skin to discolour to green or black. Just be aware that if you are testing the gold against skin upon which you have placed liquid or powder foundation, real gold will leave a black mark. Only test on clean, makeup-free skin. And this brings us to…
Can Makeup Damage Real Gold?
As mentioned above, liquid or powder foundation will react with real gold. Use this as a means of testing. Apply a thin layer of foundation and allow it to dry completely. Once dry, press the gold into your skin where the foundation has been applied and rub lightly. Real gold will leave a black line or streak.
Is Real Gold Magnetic?
Real gold is not magnetic, so it should not be attracted to a magnet. That said, this is not the most reliable method given that other non-magnetic metals can be used to create gold-plated jewellery.
The “Ping” Test
If you are trying to determine whether a coin is real gold, try measuring the sound it makes by balancing it on the end of your finger and tapping it with another coin. Real gold should make a long, high-pitched ringing sound, while base metals will make a shorter, duller sound.
Have Your Gold Professionally Appraised
Of course, the best way to determine whether gold is real or not is to have it professionally appraised. If you want to test at home, however, the above methods (especially if you use 2 or more) can give you a good idea whether you are dealing with real or fake gold.