When buying jewelry online, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. It’s not easy to simply trust any brand you encounter on the internet and you want to be equipped with the knowledge to check if your gold jewelry is real or not.
Here are some of the best DIY tests you can do at home to determine if your jewelry is real gold:
The Visual Inspection
All genuine gold jewelry has some kind of official hallmark engraved on it to signify the percentage of pure gold the piece has in it. You’ll usually find the official hallmark on the clasps of necklaces, bails of pendants, or inner bands of rings.
The stamp will be a number between 1-999 or 0K-24K depending on the grading system used. Our gold jewelry is stamped with a 14KT to signify 14 karats of pure gold in each piece.
If your jewelry doesn’t contain pure gold, you can find markings such as GP (Gold Plated), GF (Gold Filled), or GEP (Gold Electroplate).
Discoloration or Skin Reactions
Other signs that your gold jewelry may be fake are if there are any noticeable discolorations where the piece has tarnished, or if the jewelry causes your own skin to discolor after wearing it. Pure gold will not react with body sweat or oils, so if your skin shows a reaction, it’s a sign that you are reacting to other metals in your jewelry.
However, visual tests alone are not enough to ensure your gold is authentic. Even 14K Gold jewelry, which contains 58.3% pure gold, is still blended with other metals to make it stable for everyday wear. Your skin may react to the other metals in the alloy.
Testing Basic Properties
The Density Test
- Find a container large enough to hold water and the gold jewelry you want to test.
- Pour lukewarm water into the container.
- Drop your gold jewelry inside
If your jewelry is real, the piece will be dense and sink straight to the bottom of the container. If your jewelry is plated it will be much lighter and float. Also, real gold won’t tarnish when wet, so if any discoloration occurs, you can bet your piece is plated.
The Magnet Test
- Hover a strong magnet over your gold jewelry.
- Gold isn’t magnetic so if it sticks to the magnet, you can be sure your piece is impure.
For this test, you’ll need a magnet strong enough to pull even blends of metal. For example, a powerful neodymium magnet from a home improvement store will work great for this test.
Full disclosure, this test isn’t foolproof either as some fake jewelry pieces can be made with non-magnetic metals like stainless steel. Also, some authentic gold jewelry is made with iron, which is magnetic.
The Ceramic Test
- Find an unglazed ceramic tile or plate at a home improvement store.
- Rub your gold jewelry on the ceramic to see if it leaves a streak.
- A black streak means your jewelry is fake, a gold streak means your dealing with the real thing.
This test may scratch your jewelry, but it is usually minor and not noticeable.
The Acid Test
The acid test is usually the test of all tests. It is the most foolproof way of determining if your jewelry is authentic gold.
- You can purchase Nitric Testing Acid online for about $10-$15.
- Make a small mark on your gold jewelry to slightly penetrate the surface.
- Drop a small amount of liquid nitric acid on the scratch.
- Observe the chemical reaction.
Genuine gold jewelry will not be harmed. Only fake gold will immediately turn green where the acid was dropped. Gold plated sterling silver will turn milky in color.