Did you just inherit part of a loved one’s estate? Did you just do some major cleaning in your attic? If so, you might have come across some antique items and fine jewelry pieces.
This occurs fairly commonly across the country, and many people wonder if their items are worth anything. The best way to determine if a gold item is worth money is to have it appraised at a pawn shop. But if you worry about wasting your time or feeling embarrassed that an item isn’t worth much, never fear.
We’ve put together a short guide on how to tell if gold is real to save your time and pride.
5 Ways to Test Your Gold
Jewelers consider any gold less than 10 carats to be fake. If you don’t know how many carats your gold item has, here are a few ways to determine if it might be valuable.
1. Perform a Stamp Test
Inspect your gold item for stamps and official markings. Certified gold items have stamps that indicate their carat size (10K-24K) an d fineness (.1-.999 or 1-999).
Don’t feel alarmed if your gold item doesn’t have a stamp. Markings often fade over time, so you might have a hard time finding one on an older item. Furthermore, a stamp doesn’t always indicate real gold-further testing is necessary.
2. Look for Discoloration
Look for chipping and fading where your gold item experiences frequent friction. So, you should look for discoloration around a necklace’s clasp or a candlestick’s base. Fake gold or gold-plated items will fade and discolor after years of wear and tear. Real gold, on the other hand, will remain the same color no matter how frequently someone uses it.
You should also wear the item (if possible) and look for skin discoloration. Real gold won’t cause discoloration, whereas fake gold will cause skin to turn black or green.
3. Conduct an Acid Test
A nitric acid test gives you an easy way to determine your gold’s potential value. Simply make a small scratch on the gold’s surface and then dab a small drop of liquid nitric acid on the spot. The spot will turn green if the piece is fake, and it will look milky if the piece has gold plating. Real gold will remain unaffected by the nitric acid.
An acid test works best for larger gold items or scrap gold pieces-don’t perform it on a fragile, potentially valuable jewelry piece.
4. Complete a Magnetization Test
Pure gold is not magnetic, which makes a magnetization test an easy way to gauge your item’s authenticity. To perform a magnetization test, you’ll need a stronger-than-average magnet. A simple refrigerator magnet is not strong enough since it can’t pull through gold-plated items’ outer shell.
Magnetization tests aren’t foolproof, as manufacturers sometimes use other magnetic metals to fool consumers. Make sure to perform this test in conjunction with a few others.
5. Try a Density Test
5. Try a Density Test
Gold is one of the densest metals. Pure 24K gold has a density of 19.3g/ml, which is significantly higher than other metals. The only metals with higher densities include neptunium, osmium, platinum, plutonium, and rhenium.
To perform a density test, fill a cup or bowl with water. Place your gold piece in the water. Because pure gold is so dense and heavy, it will sink to the bottom. Fake gold will float.
Don’t feel discouraged if your gold piece sinks but not all the way to the bottom. Different gold purities have different densities. For example, 14K has between 12.9 and 14.6 g/ml, while 22K gold has around 17.7 g/ml. So even though your item might not have pure 2 4K gold, it might still be real and valuable.
Still on the fence about whether your item is real or not? Visit a pawn shop in your area for expert appraisal and assistance.