We always regret when we have to inform a customer that the gold jewelry they wanted us to refine is fake. The assays we run are extremely accurate at detecting fake gold, however, these types of tests are not available to everyone. Fortunately, there are other, simpler ways to test your gold.
• Magnet test: Simply put, gold is not magnetic. Hold a magnet next to the jewelry in question. If it moves toward the magnet, it’s not real gold.
• We use basic acids to test quite a bit of gold, the most common acid we use is nitric acid. Do keep in mind working with chemicals can be dangerous. Only use a eye dropper size quantity (never drop or soak jewelry in solution, its dangerous and hazardous. We recommend hand testing on a basalt stone.
• Common reactions to nitric acid:
14k should hold bright on the stone
10k should turn a little red on the stone
When in doubt file the jewelry and apply the acid to the file mark
if it bubbles green its is not gold
Keep in mind some metals that are not gold will still hold up to the acid
These tests can be fine indicators for amateur jewelry sleuths, but the best detectors of fake gold are metallurgical assays performed by professional jewelers or pawnbrokers. We can get more in depth about hand testing in another blog.