Gold - considering its high worth and easy liquidity we have witnessed a number of incidents when forgers have tried out various counterfeiting practices and create duplicate jewellery resembling pure gold jewellery to cheat people.
Differentiating between highly quality and low gold requires some knowledge and professional experience; though to distinguish between fake gold and real gold you just need to know some simple tricks; you can try by yourself at home.Let's discuss some of the conventional yet highly effective tests which can be done to check for fake gold.
Rub it on Stone!
Perhaps the simple of all the test is to rub a piece of gold jewellery against a hard rough surface - preferably a stone. Fake gold jewellery is mostly gold coated. So, rubbing it against a rough surface would scrape the outer gold coating and should expose the inner metal. Most of the times this simple trick is good enough to check for fake gold.
Search for the Hallmark
Almost all original gold articles are being stamped with a hallmark which, specifies the jewellery's karat weight. This stamp is generally spotted on the clasp of a bracelet or necklace or on the inner band of a ring. The purity or originality of American-made gold is typically measured in karats and with adherence to it, the stamp on gold objects consists of a number accompanied by the letter 'K'. This number indicates the fact that; how many parts of an object is actually gold if it is being divided into 24 equal parts. For instance; a stamp of '22K' indicates that 22/24 of the metal comprises of real gold. Thus, a '24K' stamp indicates a cent percent purity.
On the contrary, the purity or gold content of European gold is being symbolized as a decimal. For instance; '.591' would indicate a gold content or purity of 58.5% and similarly, '.999' or '1.000' would indicate a cent percent purity.
The Magnetic Test
Another critical assessment test which, can be conducted by using minimal equipment is the magnetic test. In contrast to most other heavy metals, gold is non-magnetic in nature and thus, a piece of jewellery or object made of real gold will not get attracted to a magnet. All you need to conduct this test is a high-strength magnet and keep it close to the jewellery to observe any type of reaction. In case the jewellery sticks to the magnet, then the object can be concluded to be made of fake gold.
In case you observe a slight attraction but, the jewellery does not completely stick to the magnet, then it can be presumed that the jewellery comprises a minimal or low proportion of real gold and if doesn't attract at all, then it is possibly made of pure gold.
The Vinegar Test
Drop the piece of gold jewellery in a glass bowl filled with white vinegar and leave it aside for 15-20 minutes. Remove it and rinse it with clean water. If the object doesn't loses its gold color and shines then its most probably made of gold. Fake gold if left in white vinegar for some time generally starts changing colors as it reacts with the ascetic acid present in the vinegar.
Weight and Size Test
This test mainly applies to the gold bullion coins which, involve checking the size and weight of the coin. Bullion coins are manufactured with adherence to a set of specifications, which in turn, serve as a reference point for testing the authenticity of gold. With a high level of density, gold boasts a set of unique physical properties, which are almost not replicable. Thus, any metal used for recreating a gold coin will be comparatively less compact as more quantity of it will be used for replicating a specific weight of gold. Thus, knowing the specific diameter, weight and thickness of your bullion coins will help you to determine whether it is made of real or fake gold.
Liquid Foundation Test
Though it is not considered as a proven or certified method, it is being widely used as a conventional practice for examining whether the object is made of real or fake gold. Apply some liquid foundation and powder on your forehead and rub the gold object across that area. If you observe an immediate black streak, then the chances are more that the object is made of real gold. Another way is to rub the gold object across the forehead of a person who suffers from deficiency of iron or mild anemia. If the metal is original, temperature of the haemoglobin present in the blood rises up and mostly leaves a black blotch on the skin.
Nitric Acid Test
Another significant method of testing real gold is the nitric acid test. For scrap gold, this conventional method can serve as the ideal way of testing its originality. Kindly keep note of the fact that it is not advisable to conduct this test on gold jewellery which, you are planning to retain or has a significant aesthetic value for resale. The simple steps which, you need to follow for conducting this test is; make a small, light scratch on the gold object with the help of a small nail file. Apply a drop of nitric acid on the scratch and if you haven't witnessed any reaction, then the object is plausibly made of real gold. The object might be a gold-plated item or made of any another metal if it turns green. On the contrary, in case of gold-over-sterling, you can see a milky substance after the nitric acid is being applied to the object.
Generally, no chemical reaction occurs when real gold gets exposed to nitric acid. However, you can witness a certain kind of reaction when other metal alloys like copper, sterling silver and zinc are being exposed to nitric acid. If you witness a greenish colored reaction, then the object is probably made of fake gold. It is important to take all the necessary precautions (like use of goggles, gloves and proper ventilation) into consideration before conducting this test since any kind of mishandling of nitric acid might lead to an explosion.
Needless to say that; gold is one of the densest metals and a piece of real 24K gold comes with an accurate density of 19.3g/ml, comparatively higher than most other metals. Thus, a simple density test can be a quick way of determining whether the object is made of real or fake gold. The guiding principle is; the purer the metal is; the denser it will be. Keep note of the fact that there are no gemstones attached to the metal before conducting the density test. All you need to do is drop the gold object in a jug of water and measure the amount of water being displaced by it. Calculate the density and you will be able to decipher how much real gold is contained by the object. Irrespective of being considered as a conventional method, it requires the tester to provide accurate measurements by doing an exercise of complex calculations. Furthermore, it becomes quite confusing for him to set a reliable benchmark for defining how much dense an alloy of a specific karat ideally should be. On a worsening note, the density of a gold-plated object can reach almost close to the density of an original gold object due to its potential variation.
Last but, certainly not the least, consulting a competent and honest jeweller or gold appraiser is a surefire way of testing the purity of gold. The jeweller or dealer uses an authentic testing kit for ascertaining whether your piece of jewellery or object is made of real or fake gold in exchange of a small fee.
The rational take is; always purchase gold from a reputable and certified dealer who holds an impressive reputation in the market for selling pure, hallmarked gold at the right price. Doing so will not only ensure your peace of mind but, also an assurance of getting a fair resale value in the future.