Due to concerns about the honesty of some manufacturers, the question how to check gold at home, and how to at least approximately estimate whether there is a fake or a true precious metal in front of us, arises quite often.
Those who paid attention in chemistry class should be aware that gold is a rather soft and very ductile metal. It can easily be stretched, flattened, or deformed in another way. At the same time, the jewelry we use must be solid; otherwise, the whole work of the jeweler will lose its meaning.
For this reason, and even for economic reasons, people have learned to make alloys, adding to the real gold other metals, for example, copper. Scammers skillfully use this rule, exceeding the number of additives and making the gold piece technically a fake. Sometimes they even make alloys that do not contain precious metals at all. So, in order to identify if the gold is real or not, there are certain methods.
For people with sensitive ears
For rings and other jewelry made from a single piece of metal, there is a method of determining the authenticity using the sound. Throw the jewelry on a hard glass surface and listen to its sound. If you have a good hearing, you will hear a sonorous clear sound. That is the ring of the real gold. Fake has no such sound. The best way is to compare the sound of the product you have no doubts about with the sound of the product you are testing.
Determination based on hardness
If you are not afraid to spoil the appearance of the gold product slightly, then you can test its hardness. The oldest way is to bite gold with your teeth. You will leave bite marks on the real metal, as it is soft, as we have already mentioned. However, taking into account that many of us have 585-carat jewelry, this method does not always work.
To tell a sure fake, you can slightly saw the piece with a file. If under a light shiny layer you’ll find a darker one, then you have definitely been deceived. Instead of the file, the piece can be scratched with any sharp object. In the old days it was done in pawnshops, so on some old jewelry, you can see small scratches and nicks. New products do not have such scratches, of course.
You can determine the quality of a gold ring by running it down a glass surface with slight pressure. Gold should not leave traces, while other, harder metals can scratch it.
Any chemist can tell you how to check gold for authenticity by using a chemical reaction. The fact is that gold is a very inert metal. In its pure form, it practically does not oxidize and does not enter into a chemical reaction with many substances.
We want to warn those who decided to test their gold jewelry with iodine that it should be done very carefully. Iodine is one of those rare elements that does start a reaction with gold. To verify that what you have in front of you is not an alloy of bronze or copper, you should proceed as follows.
- On the obscured side of the gold item, make a small graze with a knife to remove the top layer, to see if it is just gold plating.
- Drip a little bit of iodine into the scratch.
- Wait 1 minute.
- Remove iodine with a cotton ball.
If there is a spot left, then this is the real gold. To remove the iodine stain, immediately wipe the product with toothpaste.
A more reliable method of testing is using acid. A kit for determining the authenticity of gold with acid can be found in stores for jewelers and in stores of laboratory supplies and chemical reagents. The main point is that the acid does not react with gold, does not change its color. If there are any impurities, the color slightly changes. A rough forgery is covered immediately with spots.
You can also buy liquid testers for gold of different carats. Use a graphite stick to put a little bit of that liquid onto a gold item, then you will be able to determine whether what you have in front of you is a fake or not by the reaction on the surface. On a quality product, there will be no mark.
To determine whether a piece of gold jewelry is real or not, you can buy silver nitrate at any pharmacy, it comes in a pencil. Wet gold in water and draw a dot or dash with a pencil. This action will leave no trace on real gold, and other metals will turn black.
At home, vinegar is the most accessible tool. Immersing the ring in vinegar, you can observe how it will change its color. Quality, true gold should not change.
Magnetic properties and immersion in water
In addition, you can check the properties of the product with a magnet. Real gold will never be magnetized, same as copper or brass. However, if the magnetic properties are manifested, that means you have in your hands basic iron, and there is no gold in sight.
Another way to identify a fake is to lower the item carefully into a container with water. Since gold is a very dense metal, it should sink quite quickly. A smoothly and slowly lowering object causes suspicion.
Always look for the brand. Gold jewelry must be stamped with the name of the manufacturer and with the purity of gold. If the product is made in Russia, then before the purity there should be a female profile wearing a kokoshnik. Although many “experts” have learned to forge marks, still they must be checked. Some scammers are afraid to put stamps because such a forgery is punished more seriously.
We described the most common methods of checking gold at home. If we are talking about a very expensive piece of jewelry, which you need to check by any means, it is better to do a spectral analysis. The special device will give accurate information about how much of which metal is contained in the product within a few seconds.