Is your Gold Real? 3 Different Ways to Test

Gold is considered a precious metal that is going to come in many colors and even different levels of fineness. The value that comes with a piece of jewelry is going to depend on whether or not it is made out of pure gold. To help you figure out the quality of any metal object, you need to look closely at the surface. If you are unsure even after this inspection, then it is time to use a test to see what is in the piece

There are three main methods that you can use to test gold to see how much is found inside a piece of jewelry. You can choose the acid tester, the magnetic tester, or the electronic tester. Each one will test out a different property of gold to give you the most accurate results possible.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these three testers to learn what they test specifically and how accurate each one is.

Is your gold real or fake?

If your gold doesn’t have any letter markings (What do the letter markings on gold jewelry mean?), then try one of these 3 methods test if your gold is real or fake.

1. Electronic Gold Tester

One method to help you test out the gold you have is with an electronic gold tester. This is a simple hand-held device with a probe at the end. You can purchase these through a jewelry supply store or online.

Looking for the best gold testers? We reviewed the top 5 gold testers here.

To use this, you would need to rub a conductive tester gel onto that item. The gel is often available from the same place where you got the testing device. Once the gel is applied to at least a little bit of the metal that you would like to test, then you can rub the probe onto the item to see what it says.

The way that the metal responds is going to let you know whether it is a pure metal or not. You need to use the instructions that are on the tester to get the most accurate results with this.

Keep in mind that gold is a conductive metal so you will get a higher reading out of a pure gold piece compared to one that is plated at all. And fake gold will give off an entirely different reading.

2. Magnetic Testing

If you are not able to get ahold of an electronic gold tester and you do not want to spend the money, then it is time to try something else. One method that may be effective to test out gold and see if it is real is to use a magnet.

This method is simple.  You just need to place a magnet against the item that you would like to test. This does not need to be complicated to get started. Just hold a magnet right above the piece. You can then lower the magnet until it is almost to the surface of the item that you would like to test, but not quite on it.

When doing this, notice if you feel the magnet move at all. Does it feel like it is being pulled downward at all? If so, then this is a sign that the item is not pure gold. There may be a little bit of gold in the piece, but it is not pure gold. When the item reacts to the magnet, this means that nickel or some other item inside the item is responding to the magnet instead. A pure gold piece will not draw the magnet in at all.

3. Acid Tester

The final test that you can try out is an acid testing kit. This is a good tool to use to provide a more precise estimate of the purity of the gold. You can find these through a jewelry tool supplier in most cases. The kit should have instructions as well as all the items that you need to get started.

Inside the kit, you should find that it contains a number of needles that you will need to use to test out different types of gold. You should look for the karat value marking that should be on the side of the needle. The needles should each also have a colored gold sample at the tip. This helps you to use the right one for white and yellow gold.

From there, you can make a small notch with your engraving tool. You can turn the piece around a bit to find a spot that is less noticeable for you to do this. Then hold the engraving tool in your hand before making a small divot on the metal. The goal is to expose some of the deeper layers of the metal here.

Inside that notch, you should add a little bit of the acid that is in the kit. Then, hold the needle tip right over the notch and push the plunger of the needle down until just a single drop of the acid is in the divot. You can then read the results that come with the kit. This will help you know, based on the color that the acid turns, what type of metal you have on hand.

When you receive a piece of jewelry, you may be curious as to whether it is gold, pure gold, or a mixture of other types of metals. The good news is there are many different methods that you can use to test out the jewelry and see what it is. Most of them only take a few minutes to complete and can help you know what metals are in your jewelry.

Carl A. Jones, GIA GG

Carl A. Jones is a GIA Graduate Gemologist with over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. He is an independent jewelry appraiser. He specializes in determining the value of diamonds and advising consumers on how to buy quality diamond jewelry.

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