No type of gold or silver is magnetic. Knowing this, is it a good idea to verify whether you have real gold and silver by using a magnet test? To help answer this question, we’ve compiled a short guide that will explain what types of metals are magnetic and whether you should trust the magnet test to tell if you have real gold or silver.
Few metals we encounter daily are magnetic. A few you may know include iron, nickel and cobalt.
Metals you may encounter less often but are magnetic include neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium. The only time an item containing gold or silver could stick to magnets is if it was silver or gold plated. This is because though the item’s surface would be plated in gold or silver, the metals underneath could cause the magnet to stick.
Although silver and gold are not magnetic, this doesn’t mean nonmagnetic items are always real precious metals. Plenty of items like watches or pieces of jewelry could be made with non-magnetic material like copper or plastic. Some metals look like silver but are not magnetic like aluminum, pewter, and zinc.
So, if the magnet test isn’t necessarily a bulletproof method to test for real gold or silver, how can we verify authenticity?
Precious Metal Testing Methods
A few tests exist that work to verify the authenticity of your silver and gold, including:
- Gold Acid Tests: With gold acid tests, a piece of your metal is scratched against a basalt stone. This leaves a mark on the stone. By applying specific strengths of nitric acid to this mark and measuring its reaction, you can then accurately measure the purity of your precious metal.
- Fire Assay or Melt Tests: Fire assays are the standard for verifying and valuing gold and silver at major mining companies and refineries. In this process, the metal is melted down, then the sample is chemically separated from other metals. This is the most reliable testing method because it is the most accurate way to determine the amount and purity of precious metals.
- X-Ray Testing: This test works by bathing your precious metal sample in x-rays. Your metal then emits light (a.k.a. fluorescence) at an energy level specific to its atomic structure. By measuring this unique energy level, the XRF machine can then analyze the purity of your sample within five parts-per-thousand. The biggest benefits of XRF are that it is quick, with results available in minutes. It’s also nondestructive, which means your precious metal sample won’t be damaged or lost during the testing process.
When In Doubt, Consult an Expert
If you’re at all in doubt about your gold or silver items, consider consulting a precious metals refinery like Manhattan Gold and Silver. They can help to test your item and even value them, so you get the best payout if you’re looking to sell.