Ways & How

How to Test Gold

How to Test Gold

By learning how to test gold, you can find out if your gold articles are genuine. There are several ways to test gold. Some of them are simple enough to do at home. However, before you try any of these steps, you should make sure you won’t mind if the piece of jewelry gets damaged. Sometimes costume jewelry has practical functions. If it’s pretty and you enjoy using it, then you may derive pleasure from using it despite its low value. However, if you have a pressing need to determine whether the item is made of gold, you can try one of the following steps.

  1. The simplest and surest step is to bring the gold item to a reputable jeweler, a pawnshop, or a certified appraiser who can examine it for you.

  2. At home, you can test gold jewelry by wearing it in the shower. If the gold starts to fade or tarnish, then it’s not pure.

  3. Place a strong magnet (not refrigerator magnets or the small ones used for craft projects) between a quarter of an inch and half an inch away from the item.

    ld is not magnetic. So if the item is pulled towards the magnet, it’s not genuine. However, this is not a foolproof method. Any combination of non-magnetic metals can be plated with gold, and if that is the case, it will not be drawn to the magnet. If your item sticks to the magnet, then you can be sure it’s not genuine; if it doesn’t stick to the magnet, you will need to test it in another way to ensure that it’s not made of other non-magnetic metals.

  4. Take a piece of unglazed porcelain tile with just enough surface coarseness to scratch off minute particles of metal. Rub the item across the tile. If it is made of gold, the item should leave a golden or yellow streak. If it leaves a black streak, then it’s not genuine.

  5. You can also use needles or pins to test gold. Try to scratch off the metal at a spot in the jewelry where a mark is not likely to be noticed. If you manage to scratch or shave off flecks of gold, then it’s plating. Another method you can use involves piercing the item with the needle or pin. If you exert enough pressure and the pin or needle breaks, then the item is not pure. Gold can be pierced because it’s malleable; it’s not hard enough to break a harder metal item.

  6. Soak the item in ordinary vinegar. If the piece starts to oxidize or turn a grayish color, it’s not genuine. Genuine gold will not be affected by the acid. Do this test only on items you won’t mind losing, because the piece may be ruined by the test if it’s not pure.

Contrary to common belief, biting gold is not actually a good way to test for purity. We sometimes see prospectors in movies and Olympic gold winners biting into their gold, supposedly to test it. This belief stems from the fact that gold is soft, and therefore it is thought that biting into pure gold will leave indentation marks from the teeth. However, gold is not the softest metal there is. Lead is even softer, and if it is coated or plated with gold, biting into it will leave teeth marks, giving the impression that it is genuine gold. More complicated options for testing gold exist. There are even online companies, but it’s not advisable to send jewelry by mail. Testing heirlooms or antique jewelry is best left to professionals. For ordinary tests of less valuable items in the comfort of your home, the above steps will show you how to test gold.


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