How to differentiate gold from fake?
How to tell if gold is real? Have you ever found someone trying to sell gold jewelry or bars, and felt like the price was too good to be true?
How do you know that you didn’t just take a piece of silver and paint it gold?
Gold has always held a special place in various cultures.
From ancient times, it has been used as currency and in religious ceremonies.
Girls hands with golden bracelets
Because of limited mining, extensive worldwide use as a form of money, and skyrocketing price gold is highly valuable.
Just like other precious gemstones and metals, gold is counterfeited in high volumes. Don’t worry! With a few simple tests (some of them cost zero dollars), you can steer clear of fake gold jewelry.
One precious metal that humankind has used from the dawn of civilization is gold. Despite being relatively rare, it has been a universal currency in many cultures and societies.
Because of its shiny yellow texture and incredible malleability, it has been a favorite for crafting jewelry and art pieces throughout history.
Gold has been an integral part of Ancient Egyptian culture dating back to 3000 BC. The Aztecs used to consider it as the “god excrement.”
It was a rare material that was first mined from rivers, and then excavated from mines. It’s been discovered all over the world – from remote locations like ancient Australia to enormous areas such as South Africa.
Gold is edible (!) and has been used as a garnishing element for food and beverages from ancient times. The Egyptians started it around 5,000 years ago and then it spread across the world – from Eastern civilization to Europe.
Chocolate eclair pastry with edible gold leaf
Gold is a popular choice for people when they look for sustainable investment. This is because of its scarcity, which is low enough to make it desirable in today’s society but not too low that it becomes useless.
According to the World Gold Council, approximately 197,576 tonnes of gold have been excavated (until 2019) since the beginning and the underground reserve is nearly 54,000 tonnes.
Gold bars are traded at set weights like ounces or grams, but the coins that you can purchase on eBay are fun to collect.
To understand the properties of counterfeits, you should know the composition of genuine items. The unit for measuring authenticity is Karat and you will find various denominations from 24 to 8 karat.
A 24k gold article is pure as it has 99.9% gold element in its composition. On the contrary, a 14k item contains only 58.3% gold and the rest is a metal alloy featuring two or multiple metal items (which could be silver, copper, nickel, and zinc).
Gold bullion coins and bars
Your gold items like jewelry or coins will have a metal alloy because of the soft nature of 24k gold. It’s too flexible to hold a firm shape.
Remember that a jewelry piece or coin can be genuine without looking like gold. For example, white gold is 75% pure gold and 25% alloy of nickel and zinc. It imitates platinum but is similar to 18k gold.
On the other hand, counterfeit gold articles are not gold at all. They are made of completely different materials and only have a thin gold coating on the exterior. Some common and popular imitation variations are:
Plating means adding a thin layer of gold over the existing metal, which is mostly silver or copper. Due to the use of chemical or electrochemical bonding, the coating lasts for years and does not chip away like paint or lacquer which can chip away.
Plated gold bracelets
Plated jewelry isn’t as expensive as a solid gold item, but it still holds some value and creates a nice look for any kind of ornament.
Gold-filled jewelry is a way for consumers to get the benefits of gold without paying the premium price. It’s a way of bonding a layer of solid gold on a base metal, such as sterling silver or brass core.
It’s different from plating because it uses more than an atom-thick layer of 18-karat gold and has a much higher quality to it.
This type is popular because it can be worn for years and never lose its luster, while plated jewelry will only stay shiny for a few years before it needs to be re-plated.
Popular copper alloys (bronze and brass), are the most common type of counterfeits out there. Between them, brass (copper-zinc alloy) has a wider use case for imitation gold because of retaining its gold-like color for longer than bronze (copper-tin alloy).
A copper-nickel alloy (cupronickel) also mirrors a golden color but it’s not used for making jewelry because of nickel allergies.
In the United States, anything lower than 10k (which means lower than 41.7% of gold) cannot be labeled as gold. That limit is 8k in Germany.
The mineral pyrite also known as fools gold
Fool’s gold is a nickname for an iron sulfide called pyrite. People often mistake it as the real deal because of its metallic sheen and brass-yellow color. However, this mineral is brittle and yields powdery residue when scratched.
Can you tell if gold is authentic or fake just by looking at it? No. But there are some things to look for that might offer a clue, and we’re going to get into the details.
There are some telltale signs that your gold might not be real if you’re looking closely enough:
Not a super reliable test because only untainted gold does not change its color over time. Anything made of 24 karats (99.9%) gold shows a nearly orange-yellow color and it does not change much under normal circumstances.
Jewelry made of 18k (a rich buttery color) or 14k gold (a straw yellow color) will change color over time because of the copper or silver alloy in them. However, wearing fake gold jewelry items will turn them dark pretty fast as they contain brass or steel.
The one general rule for gold is its appearance: gold has a >metallic luster> and its surface should not show any signs of corrosion. Although external elements can tarnish gold over years of use. It does come in different colors, but it should always have a uniform finish.
Look for the marking on the clasp or inner band of a jewelry piece as it indicates the gold percentage in that item.Hallmark is an international standard for denoting the purity of valuable metals. However, it’s not foolproof since anybody can engrave those markings. On the other hand, letter markings refer to mostly gold-plated jewelry, which is not real.
The markings for the Karat system are:
The markings mean that 24k gold has 99.9% of gold while the 8k contains only 33.3% gold. In the United States, anything less than 10k is not considered gold while 8k is the lowest limit in German markers.
Gold ring with carat inscription
Sometimes the stamp will be in a different location but it’s always worth looking to see if there are any markings at all.
If you see any of the following letter markings on a piece of jewelry, avoid it because it’s not genuine.
These letter markings make it clear that these pieces only have a gold-like appearance because of the plating. The base will be some kind of other materials, such as silver, copper, or nickel.
This is a simple test to see if your gold items have been adulterated. Gold will not react with the skin and can withstand soaps, detergents, and many other substances that would make any other metal change color or even corrode into oblivion.
Rub the gold gently with some skin to see if any reaction occurs! If there is no change at all, either on your skin or the gold piece, chances are high that your jewelry will stay beautiful for years to come. Fake ones will transform your skin’s contact point into green, black, or blue.
Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly because the chemical elements in makeup or liquid foundation can temper the results.
However, this test is foolproof only for pure 24k or 23k gold pieces. For example, if you have a 15k gold piece (which contains only 62.5% of gold), it can still react with the skin because of other metal elements.
Plated gold’s exterior coating will wear away over time since gold is soft and that layer is pretty thin. If you have been using any gold items for a while, inspect the edges and the parts that touch your skin or clothes. Seeing another color underneath means it’s fake or plated.
It’s also possible to check if your gold has been plated with silver by vigorously rubbing your fingers over it and seeing if you can feel a rough texture. If so, then there’s no gold underneath; just paint.
The weight and size are two more tests that will help solve the mystery of how to tell if gold is real. Gold is heavy and dense. It weighs more than other metals and this means it’s a great way to tell if your jewelry has been tampered with.
Ellery bangles floral beautiful
The weight of gold will always be the same at about 19.3 grams per cubic centimeter (cc). Other familiar metals are much lighter – lead is 11.34 g/cc, copper is 8.96 g/cc, and aluminum is 2.7 g/cc.
If the jewelry weighs less than what should be for its size, then there’s a good chance that something has been added to make it seem bigger (like brass or steel).
Gold will not react with a magnet because it’s non-magnetic. If you suspect that your gold might be diluted, then try this out to see if the metal has any ferrous properties.
Use a robust neodymium magnet because a kitchen magnet is too weak to attract the metal blends inside a gold item. Bring the magnet close to the piece. If it moves forward, you are dealing with a fake item.
This is a simple test but in no way guarantees the authenticity of gold. Real gold items can be bonded with ferromagnetic metals, such as iron and nickel. On the contrary, counterfeits can contain non-magnetic metals like copper and stainless steel.
To see if your gold is real, try scratching it with an unglazed ceramic. Push the item gently on the ceramic surface and drag it around a bit.
If it leaves behind a yellow streak, you are looking at a genuine gold item. A brownish-black streak could mean it’s a knockoff or fool’s gold (pyrite).
A ceramic test does not damage the gold except for leaving a light scratch on the surface.
Take a vial or jug and fill up at least half of it with water. The temperature of the water does not have any effect on this test, so you can use room temperature or lukewarm water.
Drop your gold item gently into the water and see what it does. A genuine piece of gold is dense and heavy, so it will quickly sink to the bottom of the container. Counterfeits are likely to float or sink slowly.
The density test involves how much a gold bar or coin weighs compared to how much water it displaces. If the item is genuine, it will be heavier than water, and the increase in weight is proportionate to the purity. If there are any other additives in your gold like copper, then it will be much lighter than it should be.
You will need a kitchen scale, a container with measurement markings, and water for this test. Follow these steps:
The result should be close to 19.3 g/mL, which is gold’s standard density. In comparison, copper has only 8.96 g/mL of density. The density of 18k and 14k gold items are 16.5 g/mL and 14.0 g/mL, respectively. The densities of alloys vary depending on how much gold is present.
How to tell if gold is real? When it does not react with any acidic element. So, you can use vinegar or nitric acid to find out its authenticity.
Gold is almost inert, so vinegar’s acidic element cannot change its color or properties. Use white vinegar since it’s the most acidic of all types.
Just add a couple of drops of vinegar to the jewelry piece and see if the color changes. It’s fake if it does; otherwise, you have a real piece. Give it at least 15 minutes to ensure enough time for the vinegar to set in and cause a reaction.
Nitric acid does not react with gold, but it can melt the common metals in fake items. Careless application may ruin the ornament.
Use a touchstone or a jewelry engraver to create a tiny but slightly deep scratch in a part that is not easily visible. Pour a few drops of acid on the scratch mark and if it turns green or milk-white, the piece is not real.
You can do the same test with aqua regia (75% nitric acid and 25% hydrochloric acid) too, which can melt gold. Pour a drop on the scratch mark to see if it disappears. If it does, your jewelry piece is genuine.
If you are still not convinced about these tests for how to tell if gold is real, try an electronic test. A Sigma Metalytics machine will give precise results in seconds.
The machine uses electromagnetic waves to detect the resistance of the metals of an item. So, if your piece has a gold plating with copper or nickel underneath, this tool can detect that difference.
Precious metal verifier
However, the machine is accurate only for coins and bullions. For finding out the authenticity of a jewelry piece, use any of the gold testing machines available in the market.
An XRF Spectrometer will give you the most accurate answer without damaging the prized possession in any way. You can examine any type of gold item with this machine.
A spectrometer sends X-rays through any item to charge its atoms into a higher power level. When the charged atoms cool down, they release radiation, which the spectrometer can detect and analyze.
Gold’s radiation is different from any other metal, so it will be easy to identify the authenticity of your item.
Appointing a jeweler to test real or fake gold is ideally the best method. They are professionals who have been trained for it. They also have access to equipment and different chemicals that can determine if the weight, shape, color, or purity of gold are right.
Jeweler inspects silver ring with acid
Many jewelry stores offer testing services for a small fee. This fee is well worth the peace of mind to know that your precious metals are not gold fillers or less expensive metals.
We don’t highly recommend these tests because they don’t give conclusive results. However, they cost nothing and in no way damage your precious gold. So, why not give them a try?
Strike the gold piece with a metal object and listen for how it sounds. Gold makes a high-pitched, sonorous sound that rings on for a long time. Other gold-lookalike metals like copper or zinc will create a duller and shorter sound.
However, you cannot completely rely on the result because the sound of a 24k and 18k article will not be the same, although both are genuine.
You can check the authenticity of gold by biting it, which is not reliable but very popular. You must have seen Olympians biting their gold medals. This is done because gold is a very soft metal, so it can be easily bitten and the teeth marks will appear on the surface.
Athlete biting gold medal
The purer the piece, the deeper the teeth marks will be. The texture of gold is also much smoother than other metals, such as silver and nickel, making it easier to chew and identify in comparison.
If your gold items pass the tests mentioned above, then congratulations! You can now wear it with pride knowing that the beautiful items are not just for show but hold real value. If, however, the DIY methods can’t clear your confusion about how to tell if gold is real, try to get a second opinion from someone who knows about these things or take a professional service.
A. A fast way to identify whether something contains imitation gold would be to look closely at the color of the metal on especially bright surfaces like light bulbs. Real 24 karat gold has an almost orange-yellow hue on such surfaces while inexpensive metals often display a yellow-gold shade.
Ways to test if something made from gold is fake include whether or not it rusts or feels heavy compared to its size. Commonly, jewelers will test gems by using acid because gold is non-reactive.
A. No. Gold is naturally a non-magnetic metal. So, a magnet cannot attract a 24k or 22k gold item. But 18k, 14k, or 10k gold items have a significant amount of metal alloy mixed in it. You can pull them out with a magnet if those metals are ferromagnetic.
A. The magnet and acid tests are the best way to tell the difference between unadulterated gold and gold-plated items. A piece of solid gold will not react to these tests. Checking the weight is another good method since a piece of gold-plated item will be lighter than an authentic gold of similar size.
Of course, the best way to get the correct result is to use a Sigma Metalytics machine or an XRF spectrometer.
A. Check the hallmark and color. A bright orangish-yellow shade with letters or numbers, like “24k” or “999”, stamped somewhere gives a primary indication about its authenticity. Also, it will show zero magnetism and no kind of acidic reaction.
A. Using vinegar is the easiest method because we all have vinegar at home. You can also rub it with your skin to see the color of either your skin or the gold piece changes.
A. To some extent, yes. Although you should not rely on the result completely and examine the items with other tests too. Forged gold will turn black or green because of the presence of other metals in it. Some counterfeits can create smoke or cause a cracking sound too.
Gold is the quintessential symbol of status, power, immortality and wealth, often restricted to royalty.
Accounts differ on when the first gold mines were dug and operated. Some say it all began in 3,100 BCE with the ancient Egyptians. Archaeological sites like the over-6,000-year-old mines of the Asosa region of Ethiopia and the 5,500-year-old Sakdrisi mine of Georgia put the systematic practice of gold mining back several thousands of years earlier. Some say that in South Africa there are mines that are even older.
The ancient Egyptians believed gold was the flesh of the sun god Ra. Gold is considered luxurious and precious because it is beautiful and easy to work. It does not tarnish, rust or dissolve (except by aqua regia, the name for nitrohydrochloric acid, which is used in one of the tests mentioned below). Gold is hard to extract: Barely 50 grams come out of a ton of ore. It is also one of the best electrical conductors, which is why it is used so heavily inside computers and other technological equipment.
This article discusses several tests you can easily do at home to help you when you need to know how to tell if gold is real.
A piece of gold jewelry is often engraved with a hallmark, which is a stamp that identifies its content and/or manufacturer. Hallmarks usually appear in an inconspicuous place like the inside of a ring.
The standard purity scales are based upon karats and millesimal fineness. The hallmark test, also known as the magnifying glass test, is a good place to start when checking if your gold is real.
Hallmarks show the gold’s level of purity and manufacturer to lend greater credibility to a piece’s authenticity and to make it easier to identify and verify. Since anybody can engrave any hallmark they choose, this level of testing is not 100% foolproof
If the numbers say anything other than the ones mentioned above, then you have fake gold. For example, 800, 925, and 950 do not refer to gold, but to silver. Why would they be put 925 on gold? Because this often means the jewelry is gold plated with a sterling silver base.
Another thing to look for is whether or not the marks indicate that the value has either been measured in karats or in millesimal fineness. Any other numbers than those above would indicate that the gold is fake.
Not all real gold jewelry has hallmarks—for example, older pieces may have had original markings that have been worn off.
Any gold that is marked less than 10k (41.7% purity) is considered fake.
Anyone who is familiar with the different levels of quality will quickly recognize the following markings:
You will want to avoid the above designations if you’re looking for real gold. They all indicate gold plating. In the same order, they mean:
These markings indicate that only a small percentage of gold was used to cover a piece that was made out of some other kind of metal in order to give it the appearance of gold.
To give you an idea of how the upper levels of purity stack up next to one another: 24k gold is 99.9% pure, while 18k gold is 75% pure. Absolutely 100% pure gold is unheard of, mainly because pure gold is very soft and wouldn’t make for a durable piece of jewelry.
This test is simple: It involves holding a piece of gold jewelry between your hands for a couple of minutes. The perspiration from your hands will either react with the metal and change the color of your skin or leave it unaffected. When real gold is in direct contact with your skin there is no discoloration. If the gold is fake it will cause your skin to turn black, blue, or green at the contact points.
One exception to this procedure occurs if you test gold on your skin while wearing a liquid foundation. When gold touches the makeup it will turn your skin black at the points of contact. Removing all makeup before testing makes this test more reliable.
Alternatively, makeup can also be used to test for gold authenticity. Put on a liquid foundation and add powder over it. Once the makeup has dried, press the piece of jewelry against your skin and then run it lightly over your skin where you have the makeup. If the jewelry leaves a black track on the makeup, you probably have real gold.
Gold is extremely nonreactive, so real gold jewelry will never discolor your skin. But using the makeup test is a unique way to also check if it’s real.
If there are discolorations in gold jewelry it means you have an alloy where there are other metals mixed in.
This test works well on coins and bars. You can
Gold is denser than most other metals. If you have a piece that looks too large for its weight or feels too light for its size, then you probably have fake gold.
Bullion coins are actual coins made from precious metals, including gold, silver, palladium, or platinum. They serve as collectibles, investments, or as a hedge against inflation.
Hold a strong magnet next to a piece of gold and watch for a reaction. Gold is not magnetic, so there should not be any attraction to magnets. If there is, you most likely don’t have real gold.
However, some of the base metals that can be mixed with gold are also non-magnetic so you can get a false read. The test isn’t foolproof so it’s a good idea to do this in conjunction with another more accurate testing method.
Just drop the piece into a container of water. Gold is dense. If it doesn’t float at all or hover over the bottom of the container, you could possibly have real gold.
Take an unglazed ceramic plate or piece of tile and scrape a piece of gold across its surface. Real gold will leave a gold mark or trail. Other metals will leave a black trail.
This is done by calculation. You need
Now do the calculation: subtract the “before” measurement from the “after” measurement. Then divide the weight of the jewelry by the difference in the water levels.
This gives you the density.
The standard density of real gold is 19.3 grams per milliliter (also written 19.3g/mL). Not a lot of other metals come very close to it. If your calculation gives this figure or something very close to it, you probably have real gold.
When you use density to distinguish gold's authenticity, you also need to keep in mind that there can be differences in density between different types of gold.
For example, the purer the gold, the heavier it will be--and white gold is heavier than yellow. Therefore, the density of gold between 14k and 22k will be anywhere between around 12.9 and 17.7 for yellow gold and anywhere between around 14 and 17.8g/mL for white gold.
This test simply requires that a few drops of vinegar be applied to the metal, hopefully in an inconspicuous place.
If the metal is real gold there will be no change. If the metal is fake gold it will change color.
Gold is a noble metal which means its resistant to corrosion, oxidation and acid. To perform this test, rub your gold on a black stone to leave a visible mark. Then apply nitric acid to the mark.
The acid will dissolve any base metals that aren't real gold.
If the mark remains, apply nitrohydrochloric acid, also called aqua regia (75% nitric acid and 25% hydrochloric acid) to the mark. This mixture dissolves gold so, if the mark disappears, the gold is real.
The Sigma Metalytics Precious Metal Verifier is calibrated for accuracy on a minute scale, enabling it to distinguish between metals in less than one second. While this equipment is good for measuring bullion and coins, Sigma Metalytics recommends the Kee Gold Tester for testing jewelry.
This machine sends electromagnetic waves into the item, passing through surface materials like wrapping or plating to read the resistance of the underlying metal. Its meter display is set to show a specific range of resistance that is or is not consistent with the resistance of each metal the machine has been calibrated to detect.
This machine works by sending X-rays through the gold and exciting its atoms into a higher energy state.
When the excited atoms return to normal they give off radiation. The machine monitors and analyzes this, using the radiation reading to identify the material. This method is fast and accurate. It is precise and far outperforms other methods while doing no damage to the items being tested.
In fact, none of these methods causes chemical or mechanical damage, so they will not jeopardize the value or integrity of your piece.
If you really want to know for sure how much gold is really in your gold, the most tried-and-true method of finding out is to take it to a reputable jeweler and have it tested there.
Jewelers have a wide array of methods available to the public for authentication of gold content. Of course, nothing beats experience. But those who are trying to pass lesser metals off as real gold having become increasingly sophisticated in their “craft,” so even the jeweler will probably resort to machine verification to make sure.
Most home tests can give you an idea of whether or not your gold is real. While they are all good at showing probability, none are 100% conclusive.
The Properties of Gold
Pure gold is shiny and bright yellow, and it doesn't oxidize or tarnish like copper, brass, iron, silver, or aluminum. It's soft and malleable, so many pieces of gold jewelry are alloys that also contain nickel, silver, copper, or platinum. The purity of gold is measured in carats or karats, an ancient unit of weight. Pure gold is 24 carats, and 50 percent gold is 12 carats. To get the percentage purity of gold, just divide the carat value by 24 and multiply by 100. In the United States, selling gold below 10 carats as gold jewelry is prohibited.
A variety of gold colors and alloys are available. White gold looks like silver, but it doesn't tarnish. It's often coated in rhodium to give it an especially shiny look. Gold combined with enough copper can look pink or red. Since copper is relatively hard, it's one of the most durable types of gold jewelry. This is the most durable type of gold since copper is a hard metal. Green gold or electrum often contains silver, cadmium, and zinc. However, the purity of gold is responsible for most of its value, not its color.
Gold isn't magnetic, so it shouldn't respond to even the strongest rare earth magnets. However, the clasps on your jewelry could still be magnetic. There are also many nonmagnetic metals that could look like gold.
How to Examine Gold Carefully
Use a magnifying glass to look for any signs of discoloration. This could indicate jewelry that's only gold-plated. You should also look for a purity hallmark. This can be in carats or millesimal fineness. For example, pure gold will have a small engraving that says 24K or 999. It's usually on the backs of earrings and the inner surfaces of rings. Necklaces and bracelets often have jewelry hallmarks on or near the clasp. The manufacturer's stamp is nearby.
You should be aware of hallmarks that indicate that jewelry isn't gold. HGP means heavy or hard gold plate, and GP means gold-plated. GF is gold-filled, and H.G.E. stands for hydrostatic gold electroplating. G.E.P. means gold electroplating. Common silver hallmarks include 800, 925 and 950.
Gold coins and bars usually have engravings with the purity of the gold, the weight, and mint marks. If you don't see a hallmark, it may have worn away over time. The jewelry could have also been made before hallmarks became common in the 1950s. Even if you see a hallmark that indicates pure gold, the jewelry could be a fake. Consider the look of the hallmark along with other factors before you decide whether jewelry is real gold.
Conduct a Scratch Test and a Skin Test
For this test, you'll need a black jeweler's stone that's specially made for gold testing, an unglazed porcelain tile, or an unglazed ceramic plate. You can buy a ceramic plate or a porcelain tile from a local hardware store.
Scratching your gold could damage it, so you should conduct this test carefully. Rub the gold against the stone, tile, or plate firmly enough to leave a mark but not hard enough to leave a noticeable scratch on the gold. If the gold is real, the mark or streak it produces should be golden or yellow color. A black streak means you have pyrite or another form of fake gold. You can also tell if gold jewelry is fake just by wearing it. Many types of fake gold will stain or discolor your skin after about 15 minutes of contact.
Use a Chemical Gold Testing Kit
Chemical testing kits contain acids that could harm or damage fake materials but not gold. You should only use this type of test on items that you don't mind damaging. Even if a pretty ring or bracelet doesn't contain gold, it could be valuable for its beauty and style.
Be prepared to store the acids in the kit or dispose of them safely after use. Gold testing kits contain hydrochloric or nitric acid and a dropper. You'll also need rubber gloves, a piece of glass, protective eyewear, a sharp needle, and some paper towels. Conduct testing in a well-ventilated area. Don't let the acid touch your skin, and use the glass to protect your furniture.
Nitric acid will dissolve any metal that's not gold. Putting a small amount of nitric acid on your jewelry will let you know if it's pure gold. Fake gold or an alloy will cause a reaction. Before testing, use a sharp needle to make a tiny scratch or indentation in the gold. Use the back of the jewelry if possible, and apply the acid and rinse it off as soon as possible.
Some testing kits include different mixtures of nitric acid and other components. The acids are labeled with karat levels, and a reaction with your gold indicates that it matches the carat level or is less pure. No reaction is a sign of higher purity. Many testing kits include gold test needles so you can compare the strength of the chemical reaction with gold samples that have verified carat levels. If you need to use more than one type of acid, rinse and dry your jewelry between applications.
Consult a Professional
Many jewelers have electronic gold testers that can measure your gold's electrical conductivity in just a few seconds. You can find out whether the item contains gold and its level of purity. Some jewelers can also test gold with sophisticated X-ray fluorescence spectrometers. These machines can send X-rays through items and then measure the energy levels of the atoms inside them. They can tell you the exact composition of your jewelry, including the percentages of gold and other metals. Contacting a professional also keeps you from damaging your jewelry by accident during testing.
Nitric acid will dissolve any metal that's not gold. Putting a small amount of nitric acid on your jewelry will let you know if it's pure gold. Fake gold or an alloy will cause a reaction. Before testing, use a sharp needle to make a tiny scratch or indentation in the gold.
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