The value of gold nuggets continuously goes up which is why there are many who try to make profits by selling fake or man-made gold nuggets in the market. Natural gold nuggets are usually sold as nuggets and not melted down since they are valuable and collectible in their original shape and form.
It is easy to identify a real gold nugget if you are used to seeing one, but for those who need to have a guide, here are some tips on how to identify real gold nuggets.
- Check the color. A real gold nugget has a wax-like yellow color. Even if placed under constant light, like an artificial light or sunlight, the dull waxy yellowish color will still stay the same even if the nugget is turned in different angles. Copper or iron pyrites known as fool’s gold will change in color when the light angle is changed. The fake gold will also look shinier and brighter under the light. Another test is to drop nitric acid on the gold nugget. If the nugget is real, it will not dissolve or change color.
- Compare the weight to a regular stone or lead. A real gold nugget is heavier compared to lead or a regular stone of an equivalent size. If compared by hand, a gold nugget you are holding should feel heavier by 7 times or even more, compared to a similar stone size. A genuine or real gold nugget should feel heavier by 50% more than a gold painted lead of the same size.
- Examine the surface of the nugget. Using a magnifying glass, take a closer look at the gold nugget’s surface. A real gold nugget will have a pitted surface that would look very similar to the moon’s surface. If the nugget you have has just been man made from melted scrap gold, craters or pits will not be seen. The surface will be smooth with no craters. Check further with a magnifying glass to look for bits of quartz or iron embedded in the cracks and pits of a real gold nugget. A fool’s gold will only have stone pieces and sand stuck in the cracks.
- Check the nuggets’ malleability. The hammer test should only be a last resort if you still have doubts in identifying a gold nugget. Once you hit a real gold nugget with a hammer, it will flatten out and not break into pieces. This will destroy its original shape and form that can lessen its selling value. If you continue to hit the nugget with a hammer and it is real, it can flatten out but its dull waxy yellow color will remain.
Do not be fooled by man-made fool's gold. These are usually just iron pyrites made of iron sulphide, chalcopyrite or copper pyrites made of copper sulphide, or even just a bismutite made of carbonate of bismuth. These fakes can easily fool anyone since they look real especially if you have not seen a real gold nugget.