3 DIY Ways to Spot Fake Gold

Gold is a precious metal that holds a lot of value in the market. Its huge demand has led to a rise in circulation of fake gold. Many people fail to identify the difference between real and fake gold and fall prey to unauthorised dealers.

Some jewellery items that may appear to be made of genuine gold are often gold-plated. They’re made of non-gold metals or their alloys but are sold at higher rates to amateurs. To avoid risking your money, it’s important to spot fake gold. Here are 3 DIY ways you can try to identify genuine and counterfeit gold.

1) Magnet Test

This is an easy test you can try at home. Gold is a non-magnetic metal and if a bullion coin, bar or jewellery item is made of gold, it will not stick to a magnet. Try to pick up your gold piece with a strong magnet. If your gold coin, bar or jewellery is made of magnetic metal it will stick. However, this test is not appropriate if the coin or bar is made of a non-magnetic metal as it can easily pass this test. You can try this test along with the other tests for more accuracy.

2) Nitric Acid Test

This test is a bit risky as it can permanently damage your metal if it’s not made of pure gold. To apply this test, make a small scratch on your gold piece and put a small drop of liquid nitric acid on it with the help of a dropper. If there’s no reaction, then it’s pure gold; whereas if the spot turns green, then it is not genuine gold. However, nitric acid doesn’t react in cases of common metal alloys such as zinc, copper and sterling silver. Therefore, be careful before applying this method for identifying pure gold.

3) Density Test

Gold is a denser metal. Very few metals are denser than this precious metal. The density of pure gold is 19.32 gm/cm^3 whereas the density of 14K gold is between 12.9 and 14.6 gm/cm^3. The rule is, the higher the density, the purer the gold. To do the density test, drop your gold in a cup of water. If it floats, your gold is counterfeit whereas if it sinks, you have pure gold. The difference is due to the density of gold. You can modify this test by dropping your gold into a vial filled with water. Take note of the water level before immersing the gold and after. Calculate the difference and apply the formula of ‘density = mass (weight of your gold) / volume displacement (difference in water level)’ to find the density. If the result is closer to the density of gold your piece is genuine.

Apply these DIY tests at home to find out whether you have real gold or a fake. If you want to be assured of the quality of your gold coin, bar or jewellery item, then contact a certified jeweller or precious metal consultant.