At first glance, it’s not always easy to distinguish real gold from clever imitations. Fortunately, there are a number of tests jewelers can use to confirm the authenticity of gold pieces.
The easiest way to tell if you’re handling real gold is to check the piece for a stamp that says something like “10k” or “14K” or numbers from 1 to 999. Most real gold jewelry has a stamp on it that indicates its carat or fineness. Look for this stamp on clasps or on the inside of rings. Do not be fooled by stamps that say 1/20 14k gold filled or 1/20 12k gold filled – no gold there!
If there is no stamp on the piece, you can try the heaviness test. Real gold will be heavier than costume jewelry, so you can tell by comparing pieces in your hands, or by using a glass of water – costume jewelry will float, while real gold will sink.
In some cases, you can use a magnet to verify gold’s authenticity. Gold is not magnetic, so if the piece reacts to a magnet, you can be sure that it’s not pure gold. However, if it does not react to the magnet, the possibility still exists that it might be another non-magnetic imitator. In this case, you can also check for discoloration around the edges of the piece. These blemishes are another sign that the piece may be plated or made from imitation gold.
None of these tests are fool proof, so make sure you try a few different tests on each piece. If you’re still not convinced, you can always take your gold to an expert. An experienced jeweler will be able to tell you the carat and fineness of any piece. At frank Pollak & Sons, we’ve been evaluating the authenticity of jewelry for over 100 years. If you’re still not sure what that piece is worth, stop in today to find out.