Identification of Real Gold Vs. Fake Gold A Complete Guide

Gold is one of the most precious metals humans have used since they developed civilisation. Despite its scarcity, it has served as a legal tender in various cultures and societies. Through the ages, its bright yellow colour and excellent malleability have made it a go-to material for artists and jewellers.

Despite its popularity as a hedge against economic uncertainty, gold is unfortunately also subject to counterfeiting. Therefore, to ensure you invest in a valuable piece of gold, it is now more important than ever to tell the difference between real and fake gold.

Identification of Real Gold Vs. Fake Gold  A Complete Guide


But what characteristics distinguish real gold from counterfeit gold? Trivial fact: Most countries agree that ten-carat gold (or 41.7% purity) is the minimum acceptable standard for gold. Thus, having your item appraised by a professional jeweller is the most accurate technique to determine its actual gold content.

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Nonetheless, there are some easy ways to determine whether your gold piece is real or fake before you take it in for a professional inspection. Let's take a look at them without further ado!

Hallmark — The Best Way to Identify Gold

Finding a hallmark on the gold you're considering buying is the surest way to know it is authentic. The carat weight of the gold is marked on this little stamp. Various regions employ varying units of measurement. Yet a 12K hallmark indicates that the jewellery contains 50% gold. Moreover, the highest possible gold purity standard is 24 carats worldwide.

The absence of a hallmark may indicate that the jewellery is not pure gold. On the other hand, there are alternative hypotheses to consider. The trademark may have worn away if the item has been in frequent contact with skin. Furthermore, if the piece of jewellery is ancient, it may be constructed of genuine gold yet lack a hallmark because it was produced before hallmarking became standard practice.

Reading the Hallmark

A number can indicate gold content from 1 to 999 or 0K to 24K. A hallmark may suggest that a gold product is not 100% gold. The letters GP (Gold-Plated), GF (Gold-Filled), and GEP (Gold-Electroplated) denote gold plating. They indicate that the item is plated with a thin layer of gold over another metal, typically silver or copper.

Colour of the Gold

Gold can be identified by its colour or by rubbing it on the skin to check if it leaves a mark to determine its purity. Let's investigate both of them.

The Eye Test

Since only pure gold does not fade over time, this is not a remarkably accurate test. In typical conditions, objects manufactured from 24-carat (99.9%) gold will maintain an almost orange-yellow hue.

There is a copper or silver alloy in 18-carat (a rich buttery colour) and 14-carat gold (a straw yellow tint); thus, the colour of the jewellery will fade over time. However, brass or steel in false gold jewellery will quickly discolour the wearer's skin.

Identification of Real Gold Vs. Fake Gold  A Complete Guide


Gold has a metallic shine, and its surface must not show any symptoms of corrosion. Therefore this is the only regulation about the metal. Gold may resist corrosion, but it will eventually tarnish from environmental exposure. Although it's available in a variety of hues, the quality of the finish on each piece should be consistent.

The Skin Test

Soaps, detergents, and other chemicals that cause different metals to change colour or erode have no effect on the skin and are harmless to gold. Therefore, test if the gold causes an allergic reaction by rubbing it against your skin.

If you don't change your skin or the gold, your jewellery will look the same for a long time. However, fake ones will cause the skin at the place of touch to take on a green, black, or blue colour.

The only gold that will pass this test is that stamped 24-carat or 23-carat. But if you have a piece of 15-carat gold (which contains only 62.5% of gold), it may still react with the skin due to other metal elements.

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Gold's softness and the thinness of the plating mean that it will eventually wear away. If you've been using gold objects for a time, you should examine the edges and the areas that touch your skin or clothing. If you can see through to the base metal, it's not accurate and likely plated.

You can also feel a rough texture while rubbing your fingers over the gold to determine if it is silver-plated. If that's the case, you're not looking at gold!

Real gold has Non-Magnetic Nature

You may test if the jewellery is magnetic by using a magnet; gold is not magnetic, so this should work. Since most magnets in kitchens are not powerful enough, you may need to get one from a hardware store. Remember that if the gold is alloyed with magnetic material, such as iron, you may experience an attraction between gold and magnet.

Real Gold Sinks in Water

First, you'll need to fill a container with water until it's halfway complete, with enough room to spare so that your gold object is completely submerged. Put the gold thing you're holding gently into the water. If an item purported to be gold floats, it is likely not made of precious metal.

The presence of rust or tarnishing after contact with water is another giveaway that an item is not made of genuine gold. However, you probably shouldn't try this out with something of sentimental value, given the possibility of tarnishing.

Ceramic Scratch Testing

Scratching it with unglazed ceramic will reveal fake gold. Put light pressure on the object and drag it across the ceramic surface. A genuine gold object will leave a yellowish trace behind when scratched. If there is a brownish-black line on it, it may be fake gold. However, a ceramic test will only leave a superficial scratch on the gold's surface.

Identification of Real Gold Vs. Fake Gold  A Complete Guide


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1. Is fake gold worth anything?

If you own a piece of gold-plated jewellery and wonder if it has any resale value, it doesn't. This is because only a few microns of actual gold are used in the plating process, making the coating or layer of gold on the item's exterior extremely thin.

2. Why is real gold not attracted to magnets?

There will always be an odd number of electrons in a single gold atom, meaning one will be unpaired. While they can't find a partner, unpaired electrons in the bulk population have a better chance of meeting the right electron. The absence of unpaired electrons and classical magnetism in gold indicate that it is in a metallic state.

3. Is 18-carat gold fake?

Since 18k gold costs more than 14-carat gold but doesn't offer many additional benefits, it is one of the less popular forms of gold. Approximately 75% of 18-carat gold is made of gold, while the remaining 25% is alloy.