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Is My Gold Fool’s Gold or Real Gold – How To Test Gold

Platinum and Silver have stood the test of time and have maintained their value.  Their desirability goes all the way back to ancient times.  Gold signifies success and status.  Always has; always will… Because to the naked eye, it is often difficult to tell, for example, a “real” gold ring from a fake, there has never been more fake or counterfeit gold pieces out there. It’s a simple fact that fake gold and silver will always be out there.  The good news is there are sure fire ways to identify it to protect yourself from losing a lot of money.

The “real” gold rings, bracelets, necklaces etc. that you probably have in your jewelry box, is not pure gold.  Here is where the terms carat or karat come to play as they are terms you need to be very familiar with in this business. Karat or Carat is a measurement used for gold only and is instrumental in determining its value. One (1) karat (carat) means that  1/24th of an object is gold or .0416% gold. This means that a solid gold bar that is 24 carats (karats0 is solid/pure gold. The gold jewelry items you have in your possession typically will be 10, 14 or 18 karat gold, although gold jewelry ranges from 8 to 24 karats. After the turn of the century, it became a law that all jewelry manufactured must come with a stamp that clearly identifies the items karatage. Its typically a small stamp imprint on the jewelry. The greater the karat (carat) of the item, the greater the dollar value.

There are many things to look at when determining whether or not you are looking at a gold piece. You might think that color is a way to determine whether or not a gold piece is real or not.  Gold items can range from a vibrant yellow to a very dull yellow. it is the addition of other metals in the mixing process that accounts for the color variations. 24 karat (pure) yellow gold displays a vibrant yellow color hue, while a white gold piece typically has zinc added to create the white color hue. With a rose gold piece, it is the addition of copper in the mixing process that gives it it’s reddish coloring. Whatever the type of gold, it’s always the amount of gold on a piece that determines karat(carat).

Typically you’ll see your jewelry items marked 10k, 14k 18k etc.  Now you know what those markings actually mean.  Now that you know what they mean, you will actually need to learn how to test gold using gold testing kits.  The type of kit we recommend contains testing acids, a scratch stone and a magnet. It would also be a good idea to get yourself a pair of rubber gloves for handling the acids. An eye loupe and a gram measuring calculator are also must have items in your tool box.

The acids you’ll be using are strong nitric/hydrochloric acids which is why care need to be exercised in their handling. These acids always create reactions when place on non gold metals such as copper or iron but do not react with gold. The acid test kit we sell has 10k, 14k, 18k vials.

Step 1:

A very simple way to test a piece is to first, use your eye loupe to spot the “10k, 14k” stamp etc.  Start with that identical vial to start the testing. For example, if the ring is stamped “14k”, start your testing with the 14k acid vial. The first method is to rub the piece of jewelry on the scratch stone forming a nice line on the test stone OR place a tiny file or scratch marking on the jewelry to test.

Step 2:

You then place a small drop of 14k test acid directly to the groove filed on the piece.  It is always best to choose this method if the scratch stone is inconclusive or if you have any doubt.  If you remember, one of the reasons we DO NOT like the electronic carat readers, is that they can often test gold plated as 10k, 14k etc.  You DON’T want to be the person that pays $500 for a $5 item because you did not acid test and relied on the reading of a fancy electronic carat reader.  ACIDS ARE ALWAYS BEST;  TRUST ME ON THIS ONE..

Using our example, if the gold piece is higher than 14k, there will be no change in the filed groove or on the test stone. If you observe a significant color change on the jewelry where you filed or the line on the stone nearly dissolves or disappears in whole, then the piece is not 14k;  it’s less.   You then need to drop down to the 10k test acid and follow the same process over again.  If you observe a significant color change on the jewelry where you filed or the line on the stone disappears in whole, then the piece is not 10k; it’s less.  If the test solution does nothing, the piece is at least 10k.

You need to continue testing with 10k, 14k 18k and 22k until the line DOES NOT disappear, DOES NOT BUBBLE, or DOES NOT change color.

At, we have over 30 years experience testing and trying different products and methods.  Bottom line, we know the best and most accurate testing methods and we gladly share this information on the site.  We know exactly what items you need, which ones are not necessary and most importantly, how to safely use the testing equipment.

If you are looking to learn how to test gold and want the most economical methods and equipment, look no further.  Everything you need is right here at

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