How To Test for Real Gold

Throughout history, gold has served as an emblem of wealth. It’s sought after for art, coinage, and jewelry or personal adornment. Gold is the most ductile and malleable pure metal known. It’s used primarily as a store of value. However, gold has several modern industrial significance. It can be used in dentistry and electronics.

To protect your investment, you must ensure that you’re acquiring real gold. Here are a few methods to test for its genuineness:

  • The Sun Test. Examine your gold in the sun. Real gold will retain its color and luster under the sun, and in the shade. If it glitters in the sun, then it might be a different metal which resembles gold. Remember to note the color and brightness of the piece before doing the sun test, and observe any significant changes.
  • The Pin Test. Subject the gold to a pin test using a sharp pin or needle. If it breaks, cracks or crumbles, then it’s a lesser mineral. Gold is malleable, so if the piece survives a needle prick, then it may be gold. Remember that gold can be bent or dented, but isn’t easily cracked.
  • The Pan Test. Know that gold is heavy. It’s dense, with a cubic meter weighing 19,300 kg. The pan test is ideal for miners who are gold panning. Gold panning is done with the use of pans, where heavy materials remain trapped during agitation and lighter ones are allowed to spill out of the pan. To do the pan test, rock your pan back and forth and observe that real gold will stay put and not move around much.
  • The Magnet Test. Although not very definitive, try having a magnet in contact with the “gold” piece. If it’s attracted by the magnet then it may not be gold. However, this test does not guarantee genuine gold if the piece does not react to the magnet.
  • The Wear-It Test. For jewelry, try wearing it for a few hours. It’s not gold if your skin turns a little greenish. It may be another form of metal with some gold content. Also, examine the high-friction areas for any signs of discoloration. Jewelries passed as gold may be plated, and will wear off in time. Again, remember that although discoloration proves that an item is not gold, non-discoloration is not a guarantee of its being genuine.
  • The Ceramic Test. Get a piece of ceramic material, unglazed. Start rubbing the piece against it. Real gold will leave a golden streak, whereas other metals will leave a black streak.
  • The Nitric Acid Test. Since this chemical reagent is hard to come by, this test may be difficult to try out. This involves subjecting the “gold” to nitric acid. This acid is highly corrosive and it can dissolve base metals and silver, but not gold. Gold is insoluble in nitric acid.

These are only some of the many tests which can determine genuine gold. But still, the best option is to take the suspected “gold” to an expert for testing. Jewelers and experts can perform more sophisticated acid tests which can ascertain the exact value and gold content of a gold item.


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