Gold remains at all time highs and you may be thinking about selling your gold jewelry. You may have a box of old jewelry pieces that do not get much use, and these jewelry pieces are prime candidates to trade in for cash.
You don’t want to go to the jewelry store and have a big unhappy surprise when the jeweler tells you that the jewelry you bought is just plated gold and not worth much. Or that the gold is less than 10 karats and essentially fake, the baseline for ‘real’ gold is 10 karats.
The gold that is made into jewelry is usually 18 or 14 karat gold. It may be lower karat gold, but that is unlikely. If the jewelry is not 18 or 14 karat gold, there is a good chance that it is gold plated or fake.
Here are some ways to tell if your gold jewelry is real.
- Does it have a jewelry stamp? This is the first place to look when trying to determine the value of your gold jewelry. The first clue to the nature of the gold jewelry you are looking at is the jewelry stamp or hallmark. Gold stamps can be forged, but most often the stamps are true. If you gold jewelry has a stamp that says 14k, .585, .583 (all indicating 14 karat gold), 18k, or .750 (both indicating 18 karat gold) then you know that it is high quality gold. If you see a GF or GS it means that the gold jewelry is either gold-filled or gold-shell and is not very valuable. A stamp or hallmark is not required in the US. So, if a piece of gold jewelry does not have a stamp, that does not mean that it is not gold. So, checking for the mark is not a yes/no test. Gold jewelry not marked can still be high-quality gold.
- Does skin react? Real gold does not react to your skin. So, if the gold is real, you can wear it for a while without adverse effect. Some fake gold is mixed with nickle. If this is the case, you may have a reaction to the nickle in the gold and find that your skin is irritated or discoloring. If so, you are looking at fake gold.
- Does it respond to magnet? Gold is not magnetic. It will never react to a magnet. If you run a strong magnet over your gold jewelry and it reacts to the magnet, you know that it is fake. This is a simple and effective test of the purity of the gold.
- Has the color changed? Plated gold jewelry changes color over time to create a distinctive look because the gold plating reacts over time to the base metal. This discolored jewelry is not real gold.
- Perform an acid test. An acid test is a traditional way of testing the quality of gold. Acid test kits are available for use at home to test gold. The traditional method of using the acid test is to make an easily visible mark on the gold and apply Nitric acid to the mark. If the mark dissolves it is not gold. If the mark remains, it is testes with a combination of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid if the mark is removed, then the item is gold.
There are more ways to test the gold, but these are common and should give you a good indication of whether or not your gold jewelry is real or fake.
The following things should not be done to test gold. Don’t bite the gold. Gold-plated lead will be just as soft as high-quality gold. Don’t put a flame to it. People do this but it only discolors and damages the gold.
If you buy a modern acid test kit, it will tell you what you have. The other methods above are indicators of quality and authenticity and not necessarily conclusive. The acid test is very accurate. Generally, it is easier to go to a gold buyer to have the test done than do it yourself at home.
If you take the time to do one of these test and determine whether or not the gold jewelry you have is real, you can get a good idea of the value before calling a gold buyer. This is a great idea if you have a variety of old pieces of gold jewelry that have not been used for a while and you are not sure of their history.