If you’re a gold bullion investor, you understand the value of investing in this precious metal. However, with the rise of counterfeit gold products flooding the market, including over $50 million in fake Swiss-stamped gold bars, knowing the difference between real and fake gold can ensure you make a beneficial investment.
How to Tell Real Gold From Fake?
There are several ways to tell real gold from fake gold, but the best methods for accurately assaying your gold include checking the hallmark, a weight check, and XRF testing.
Most gold jewelry will have a hallmark or stamp identifying the gold content of the item, such as “14K” or “18K.” These stamps indicate the percentage of pure gold in the item. 24K gold represents 100% pure gold, 18K is 75% gold, and 14K is 58% gold.
Other hallmarks on gold items include letters such as GF indicating that the piece is gold filled or GP showing that the item is gold plated. These items contain minimal gold compared to 24K, 18K, or 14K gold, making them less valuable.
Some fake gold items may come with fake hallmarks or stamps. You can have these pieces tested by a professional precious metal dealer to confirm their authenticity. If the hallmark or stamp is missing or appears to be altered, it’s a strong indicator that the item may be fake.
To verify the hallmark, take the item to a precious metals dealer who can authenticate the hallmark and determine if the gold content matches the stamp.
A convenient, at-home approach to determining the purity of gold is to weigh your pieces. Gold is a dense material, measuring 11.1 oz. per cubic inch. Comparing the weight of a genuine gold piece to another gold item can help you determine a potentially fake item’s authenticity.
Use a precision scale to measure the weight of the item and compare it to the weight of an authentic gold item of similar size and shape. For example, if you question the purity of a gold bar, place it on the scale and record its weight.
Then, weigh a second bar with the same weight marking and compare the two measurements. If the first piece is lighter, it may be fake gold.
While this test offers an easy DIY estimate of your gold’s authenticity, you should never rely on it when buying or selling a piece. Instead, have your pieces evaluated by a professional gold dealer who can accurately weigh and measure your piece to determine the gold content and value.
X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Testing
The most accurate way to test the purity of gold is through XRF analysis. This method uses an advanced instrument designed to use X-ray fluorescence. It measures up to 22 distinct elements in one reading without prior sample preparation.
XRF is a non-destructive, non-invasive testing technique that can analyze a gold sample in seconds. The XRF equipment delivers fast, accurate analysis without destroying the metal sample, providing a more reliable result than other tests. It detects minimal amounts of gold and can be used to confirm the purity of items like coins, jewelry, and scrap pieces.
At AU Precious Metals, we use highly accurate XRF equipment to determine the value of your gold. When you mail or bring in your pieces, our knowledgeable staff will test your pieces using our state-of-the-art machine to accurately assess your gold’s purity and offer you a fair price on your items.
Gold Testing Methods to Avoid
Some common testing methods used in the past are outdated and inaccurate and may damage your bullion, gold coins, and jewelry, causing them to devalue. When determining if your gold is real or fake, avoid the following methods:
A DIY method often suggested for testing pieces of gold jewelry is exposing the items to a magnet. Gold is a non-magnetic metal, so it should not be attracted to a strong magnet called a neodymium magnet or earth magnet. If your jewelry bonds to the magnet, it likely contains nickel, iron, or steel.
Even if your pieces are gold-plated, gold-filled, and gold alloy jewelry, they should not bond to an earth magnet. Although these pieces are not pure gold, they still hold value if you plan to sell your collection as scrap metal.
Acid testing is a commonly used method for assaying gold. It involves applying a drop of nitric acid to the item and observing the reaction. While this test can provide accurate results, individuals should only use it with proper training and safety equipment. The acid is highly corrosive and can cause severe burns and other injuries.
Acid testing can damage your gold items, devaluing your jewelry or other high-value pieces.
The DIY float test involves placing an item in a water container to see if it floats, sinks, or stays suspended. The test is unreliable as other materials, such as tungsten, can have similar densities to gold, leading to incorrect results. Additionally, air pockets, coatings, or other factors, like varying water levels, can affect the item’s buoyancy, resulting in inaccurate readings.
Consult an Expert to Determine the Purity of Your Gold Pieces
If you want to sell gold jewelry or coins but need clarification on their purity, visit AU Precious Metals. Our highly trained and experienced professionals will use cutting-edge XRF technology to test your gold and accurately determine its authenticity and purity.
You can also use our hassle-free mail in program to have your pieces assayed and get a quote.
Contact us today to learn more about our XRF testing services and how we can help you invest in valuable, pure gold pieces for your portfolio.