Gold is one of the most precious metals used in making ornaments, watches, and many other things. It is a quintessential mark of grace, elegance, and wealth everyone longs for. About 78% of the total gold worldwide is used to make jewelry every year.
Uses of gold:
Although the prime use of gold remains jewelry and ornaments, it has now found applications in several other fields like it is being used in coins, electronics, computers, aerospace, and even in dentistry.
What makes gold perfect for making jewelry?
Although the custom of gold jewelry is traditional, there are various other properties too, making gold the perfect choice. These properties include:
- Resistant to tarnish
- It can be quickly hammered into a sheet as thin as seven millionth of an inch
- Exclusively high luster
How to determine if the gold is real?
With so many usages of gold, the question arises, is the gold provided to you always authentic? Nowadays, imitations that look precisely like gold are being made worldwide. Artificial jewelry has been around for centuries. They have their grace too.
The criteria for labeling anything artificial is the karat or amount of gold. A universal standard of doing so is that any article with less than 9k or 10K gold (41.7%) is said to be fake, not real.
Tests to check if your gold is real:
There are a number of tests that can be done to find whether the gold you have is real or not. They all can’t be enlisted obviously, but the most commonly used tests to determine the authenticity of gold are categorized into the following three types:
- BASIC TESTS
- ACID TESTS
- MACHINE TESTS
This category includes all those tests that are easy to perform and need no precautions.
THE STAMP TEST
The easiest and quickest way to authenticate the gold is by the stamp test. All you have to do is to look for some engraved hallmarks. Finding these marks can be a bit tricky thing to do, but most are at the back or inside of the jewelry. The hallmarks that are verified for gold are:
- Karat system (9k, 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, 23k, 24K)
- Millesimal fineness system (875, 916, 957, 999)
But if you find letter markings like GP, GF, GEP, HGP, HEG, then the gold isn’t real since these are the markings for gold plating and gold filling.
Note: It is not a 100% sure test as manufacturers can add fake markings by themselves.
THE FLOAT TEST
Yet another easy test to check if the gold is the float test. We know that gold is a very dense metal; therefore, it can’t float on water at all, while other metals can. So, to check, take a glass or bowl of water and drop your jewelry into it. If it floats, the metal used is not gold, and if it sinks, the gold is real.
One of the simplest tests is the skin test. For this purpose, take the item in your hand and wait for a few minutes. Most probably, after 5 to 6 minutes, you can examine if there is any coloration on your hand or not.
- If you see blue, purple, or any other coloration, it means your gold is not real.
- If there is no coloration at all, your metal is real gold.
Note: Always wash your hands properly before checking. The gold will react if any foundation or powder is applied, turning the skin black.
CERAMIC SCRATCH TEST:
The Ceramic Scratch test is claimed to be one of the most authentic tests to check gold but should be done with care, as there are high chances of damaging your jewelry while checking.
For this test, take a piece of tile or ceramic mug, scratch your jewelry piece on it, and observe the marking.
- If you get a marking of somewhat gold color, your jewelry is made of pure gold.
- All other metals will give a black line or marking, showing impurity.
The Makeup Test
Yet another way to check if your gold is real or not is by using foundation. Yes, apply a few drops of foundation on your hand, rub your jewelry against it, and observe:
- If the area gets blackened within a few seconds, the gold is pure
- If the skin doesn’t blacken at all, it means that the gold is not real
The Magnet Test
Another convenient way to check if gold is real or not is by using a gold magnet. You can buy a magnet from any local shop. Buy a magnet, and place it near your gold jewelry.
- If the jewelry is attracted to it, gold is not real and contains a large amount of impurity.
- If the gold isn’t attracted at all, the gold sample is authentic.
It is one of the most accurate confirmatory tests done to check if gold is pure or not.
The Lighter Test
The lighter test is the simplest test to do, that can be done at home, or you can go to a jeweler’s shop. All you need to do is:
- Can a lighter which produces a large flame, and has watery fluid in it
- Place the jewelry on a metal that doesn’t metal on heating. You can also hold jewelry by using pliers.
- Press the lighter, and apply the flame to your gold jewelry
- Heat for up to one minute, and observe
If the jewelry gets darkened on heating, it contains impure metal. On the other hand, if it is made of pure gold, the jewelry will get brighter, not darker.
The Sound Test
Another test that can be used to check the purity of gold is the sound test. However, it is not a recommended way but can be used as a confirmatory test. All you need to do is hit your sample against a metal object with force and observe the sound made.
- If the sound is dull, low pitched, that lasts for a very short time period, the sample most probably contains impurities in it and is not real gold.
- If the gold produced is high-pitched and lasts for a sufficient time, the sample is made of real gold.
Biting the Gold test
Another test that can check gold authenticity is the bite test, but it is again a bonus test, not recommended at all.
Take a sample of your gold, and bite it. If the teeth leave a bite on the gold, it is probably real because real gold is soft. However, it is not recommended because the gold-plated pieces can also leave marks on them. In addition, it can damage your teeth.
In acid tests, we place a few drops of acid to check the purity level of gold.
Another test widely used to check the metal is the vinegar test. All you need to do is take a few drops of vinegar and apply them to your metal. If it is real gold, the color won’t change, and if the metal is not gold, the color changes.
NITRIC ACID and NITROHYDROCHLORIC ACID TEST:
Since gold is resistant to oxidation with acid. For this purpose, the metal/jewelry is rubbed against a black stone, a few drops of nitric acid are put, and observations are made according to the following criteria:
- If the mark of the metal vanishes, it means the metal is not gold.
- If the mark persists, go for further confirmation. Apply aqua regia, also called Nitro hydrochloric acid, and if the mark dissolves, it confirms that the metal you are testing is gold.
The most authentic tests are the machine tests and can be termed as fail-safe tests to perform. These tests include:
In this method, a machine is used in which we place the metal, and the device sends X-rays. These rays excite the atoms of the metal to a higher state. As soon as the machine stops, the atoms also return to their normal state, transmitting radiation. These radiations are then examined and matched to the corresponding wavelengths to determine the metal. If the wavelengths match that of real gold, the jewelry is genuine.
It is the most precise method to check if your jewelry is authentic or not. Moreover, it neither includes the use of chemicals nor is it scratched against anything; it doesn’t damage your jewelry.
SIGMA METALYTICS MACHINE
This machine tells whether the gold is real or not and informs about the karats by matching them with the characteristics of each karat separately. Electromagnetic waves pass through the gold, which determines the metal present.
All you need to do is place your gold in the machine and select the karat you think it is of. Then the machine starts to analyze and tells if it matches your given information or not. It is the best and most preferable method to opt for.
So, now we have rounded up all the methods/ tests to check gold. But you can also go to a reputable jeweler to examine its purity. With so many fake pieces in the market, it is difficult to buy real gold. Always ask your jeweler to perform the acid test or ceramic test in front of you to validate its authenticity.