Learning how to know if your gold and silver are real can help you correctly identify your metal’s type and tell the difference between silver or gold bullion versus gold-plated or fake gold items.
There are a few signs to look for and even tests you can do to test the purity of your items, but don’t be discouraged if a test doesn’t work or you can’t find a specific marking. Your local precious metal dealer can assay your metals for accurate results.
How to Test Your Gold and Silver Bullion
You can test gold and silver items for their purity using several methods. The magnet test can help you quickly identify fake pieces from those with real precious metals. Purity hallmarks can tell you about the quality of your gold and silver.
However, the most accurate testing method is XRF fluorescence assaying, which AU Precious metals can perform so you can be confident of your item’s gold or silver purity.
Pure gold and pure silver are diamagnetic metals. This means they’ll only display weak attractive forces when exposed to a strong magnet, allowing you to perform an initial assessment of coins, gold jewelry, and silver costume jewelry in your collection.
Take a strong magnet, such as a rare-earth neodymium magnet, and hold it at a 45° angle. Place the gold or silver coin or piece of jewelry at the top of the magnet. It should slide down the magnet’s surface slowly to the bottom if it has a high purity level. If it has a ferromagnetic core, it will adhere strongly to the magnet and not move.
While this test will not tell you the precise metal content of your coins, it can help you identify fake gold and silver, like heavy gold electroplated pieces, from authentic bullion coins.
However, be aware that some base metals, such as copper, are also diamagnetic. You should always use this test with another more accurate testing method to determine the purity and value of your coins.
Gold and silver coins, rounds, ingots, and bars are stamped with a hallmark, which identifies its purity, quality, and manufacturer.
Common purity hallmarks on gold bullion pieces are elongated octagons, while silver purity hallmarks have an oval shape. Within these shapes, there is a 3-digit number that indicates the percentage of gold or silver. For example, 24-karat gold should be stamped with 9999,or a four-digit number indicating that it is 99.99 pure.
To find the hallmark on your precious metal bullion, take a magnifying glass and examine all surfaces of the bullion.
The American Gold Buffalo says 9999 on the reverse side and on the obverse side it shows a mint mark.
Almost all American Gold Buffalo were minted at West Point.
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy is a non-destructive assaying technology that accurately determines the elemental composition of a range of materials by detecting their signature energy emissions. It is ideal for assessing gold and silver purity and can be done in seconds without preparing a sample.
The XRF spectrometer is a handheld device that is pointed at the bullion surface. When activated, the photons from the X-ray beam excite the electrons in the inner shell of the sample’s atoms, causing them to eject. This makes the atoms unstable.
To regain stability, the electrons in the outer shell move to the inner shell, releasing photon energy. The XRF device detects this energy signal, and the signature value corresponds to a specific metal composition.
XRF analyzers are highly sensitive and capable of distinguishing alloy grades that are nearly identical in composition to one another.
Assaying Your Bullion with AU Precious Metals
AU Precious Metals only assays gold coins, bars, and jewelry using XRF fluorescence testing. Our assayers use a sophisticated XRF Spectrometer that utilizes X-ray technology to accurately read your items’ precious metal content.
The machine can detect and measure 22 elements in one reading, providing a non-invasive way to test gold and silver. Our XRF assaying lets you test older pieces that may hold numismatic value without destroying essential characteristics.
When you have your silver or gold items assayed with AU Precious Metals, you benefit from:
- Friendly, knowledgeable staff
- A safe, non-damaging process
- High-tech equipment
- Convenient in-person or mail in options
- Accurate results that lead to high cash-back offers
Have Your Precious Metal PiecesTested with AU Precious Metals
If you have a piece of gold, sterling silver, or other precious metal items you want to sell for the best price, test your piece with AU Precious Metals. Our professional staff will walk you through the assaying process and give you an accurate reading of the precious metal content in your items.
We offer top-dollar for precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum through in-person assaying and our mail in program.
Contact our team today to have an envelope sent to you, or visit one of our two Michigan locations to have your pieces assayed.