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Everyone loves gold and silver jewelry and there are numerous places to purchase jewelry in local stores or online. But, how do you know the jewelry is real gold or silver? How can you tell if a given piece of gold jewelry is the real deal? There are 5 gold tests that can show whether a piece of jewelry is good quality gold. Purchasing gold jewelry from a reputable dealer is important. Make sure the gold jewelry is at least 10 karats. A person can also take a piece of jewelry they think is gold to a certified jeweler.
When Purchasing Gold Jewelry Look For Official Markings
Good quality gold jewelry will have markings or hallmarks stamped into them on clasps or insides of rings that consist of a number from 1 to 999 or even 0K to 24K relating to the grading system being used. The hallmark will be small and may require a magnifying glass to read it. Older jewelry made before the 1950s may not have these hallmarks. Gold jewelry made in countries such as India was not required to use hallmarks until the year 2000.
There are two different marking systems the number rating system used throughout Europe starts at 1 and goes to 999 which is pure gold. The number corresponds to the percentage of gold in the piece. So a number like 375 means the piece is 37.5% gold. The numbering system can be different from country to country.
In the U.S. the Karate system of numbering is used. A piece that has a mark of 9K or less is not considered to be gold even though it is 37.5% gold. 14K corresponds to 585, 18K to 750, and 22K to 916. 24K would be pure gold.
Counterfeit gold jewelry may have fake markings that are meant to look authentic. It is a good idea to look for several proofs the piece is really good quality gold.
The hallmark on the jewelry might have letters such as GP for gold plated, GF for gold-filled, or GEP for gold electroplate. This means the piece has a core of copper, titanium, brass, or silver with a thin layer of gold over it. This is not considered real gold jewelry and does not have the value of the real solid gold pieces.
Inspect the Jewelry For Signs of Discoloration or Gold Having Worn Away
Gold is a relatively soft metal and when it is plated rather than solid gold, this thin layer may wear off in places over time. This will expose the core metal. Where the jewelry touches the skin, wear can occur.
Look for discolorations on the skin from wearing a piece of jewelry. Green or black marks come from gold that is not pure but mixed with other metals. The more discoloration, the less pure the gold is. 14K gold is only 58.3% gold and can leave some discoloration. Pure gold does not react with the skin oil or perspiration and will not leave marks.
The Water Test For Gold
If a person fills a clear jug with water and drops a piece of gold jewelry into it, pure gold will be heavy and dense enough to fall directly to the bottom. Imitation gold will be lighter and float more slowly to the bottom. Real gold will not rust or tarnish when wet, so if the water test causes discoloration, the piece is probably gold plate or fake gold.
Use A Strong Magnet To Test Gold Purity
Use a strong magnet such as a neodymium magnet to test for gold purity by placing it near the gold object. If the gold object is drawn to the magnet it is probably fake or impure. This test is not foolproof since some counterfeit gold is non-magnetic and some real gold items are made with small amounts of magnetic metals.
Try a Nitric Acid Test
There are several versions of this test. The first one involves rubbing an edge along a touchstone to create a streak of gold flakes. Then add a drop of nitric acid of different strengths on different parts of the gold streak to determine the karat value. Another gold test involves making a small scratch in the gold to below the top layer and adding a small drop of acid to that scratch. Use latex gloves and be in a well-ventilated room for this test. Put the piece of jewelry in a stainless steel container before adding the acid labeled for 18K gold.
If the acid turns a color such as green, gold, or milky, the jewelry is not pure gold but is plated or fake gold. Pure gold does not react with Nitric acid. You can purchase a gold testing kit with the correct kinds of acid, a touchstone, and other items for the testing gold.
Test Yourself Or Rely on Experts
You may have noticed that some of these tests may damage the piece of jewelry. If the piece is one that has historic or sentimental value, these tests may not be the correct way to test the gold. Also, if the piece of jewelry is one that is being considered for purchase, these tests will not be allowed. In these cases, the person who wants to know if the gold jewelry is real should get it appraised by a professional jeweler. The seller should offer authenticity guarantees with gold jewelry.
Since none of the tests are completely foolproof for amateurs, the best plan may be to purchase gold jewelry from jewelers with excellent reputations and good customer ratings. Ask for a written guarantee as to the gold quality. Adina’s Jewels has options for gold jewelry quality and design. Top jewelry suppliers and designers are willing to offer guarantees with their fine gold jewelry because they rely on their reputations for business. With precious metals and jewelry reputation for quality and honesty is everything.
Remember, not all jewelry must be pure gold or pure silver. Jewelry can be chosen to wear for fun and for effect at a reasonable cost. The important thing is to get the gold quality you ask for and pay for. A person can have a combination of fine gold jewelry worn for special occasions, and some lesser gold pieces to wear every day.