How To Test Gold and Silver Jewelry

It can be tricky to test your jewelry without doing conspicuous damage to it. As part of your daily fashion and personal ornaments, you would naturally want to know for sure if the jewelry you wear is really gold or just some other metal with a gold overlay or plating. To test for gold or silver, you need to be cautious so as not to alter its form or aesthetic.

For this purpose, you will need a gold test stone, which can be used to test silver, platinum and gold quality. You will also need to use test acid.

  • Choose a good work area clear of any important things or gadgets. You don’t want to risk spilling any acid or chemicals onto your countertop. Gather all materials needed for this test and lay out newspapers on your work area for protection. Place your testing stone on the newspaper, but set the jewelry aside to ensure that it doesn’t come in contact with any test acids.
  • Scratch a jewelry surface onto the test stone. For best results, use inconspicuous areas, such as the edge of a clasp. These are good areas to test these items on, as the contact doesn’t leave large surface scars. Ensure that you do this with a little force--enough to leave tiny pieces of the silver or gold on the test stone. You will know you have scratched it correctly if you see a streak on the test stone.
  • Place a drop of test acid on the test stone where the streak of metal is visible. Observe any changes in color. For testing gold, the streak should only lightly change. This tells you what the gold’s carat rating is. If you used a 14k gold acid but the jewelry piece is not 14k, the streak will either disappear or not change at all. If the streak disappears, then the piece is less than 14k, however if it doesn’t change color, the piece has a higher karat than 14k.

    For testing silver, you’re looking for changes in the streak color in this manner: Green = 500 Silver, Brown = 800 Silver, and Dark Red = 925 Silver.

  • Another way of testing silver involves filing a groove in the jewelry piece. Choose an indistinct region on the piece and file a groove. Place one drop of silver test acid and observe any changes. Remember that this test is not advisable for fine silver pieces because the acid solution may leave a stain, or render the surface dull.

Remember that although there are various ways to test gold and silver jewelry, still the best way to go is to contact a jeweler and have them conduct the test. If a test goes wrong, your jewelry might be damaged irreparably.

Gold and silver are valuable materials. In many instances, other materials are passed off as gold, or even if it is partly gold, the proportions are not fully disclosed. To protect your investment, you can try simple tests that you or a jeweler can carry out to verify the components of your jewelry, which will define its value.


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