Getting the Real Deal: 4 Ways to Tell Whether Your Gold Jewelry Is Authentic or Not

Sometimes, the difference between real gold and its faux counterparts can be difficult to see.
Woman trying on gold bracelet in jewelry store
Woman trying on gold bracelet at the showcase in jewelry store. Female person buying golden decoration in jewellery shop

Gold has long been considered a symbol of wealth, prosperity and social status. This beautiful, glittery precious metal has an innate value and can help bring an inner glow to the visible surface for its wearers. Some studies even show gold has the power to improve circulation, reduce inflammation, heighten concentration and soothe anxiety. For all these reasons, an endless lineup of fake products has entered the market. Sometimes, the difference between real gold and its faux counterparts can be difficult to see.

Several methods have been developed to determine if jewelry, coins, and other items are made of true gold or an impostor. Some require specialized equipment and considerable education, but others are simple and can be performed by those who aren’t professional appraisers. Though you can find more at, these four at-home tests may help prove whether your gold is authentic.

1) Check for Magnetism

This is one of the easiest ways to get an idea of whether your gold is genuine or counterfeit. True gold won’t stick to a magnet, but many materials posing as the real thing will. Some experts insist those magnets you might have on the refrigerator aren’t strong enough to make the determination, though. Neodymium magnets are recommended for this test. They’re fairly inexpensive and readily available at virtually any hardware or home improvement store.

2) the Float Test

Fill a cup or jar with water and drop in the pieces in question. Authentic gold is dense and heavy, so it should quickly sink to the bottom of the container whereas fakes often float. This test also serves as a double-edged sword because the real thing won’t be negatively affected by moisture. If the suspected item changes color after being placed in water, it’s a phony. In some cases, simply holding the piece in your hand for a few minutes can help form a conclusion because false gold will react with the chemicals in sweat and begin to turn dark.

3) the Makeup Method

Another way to find out if a piece is made of real gold is to put it to the test with makeup. Apply liquid foundation and powder to your forehead and rub the item across it. Real gold should leave a black streak, but other metals won’t. If you or someone you know suffers from anemia, this experiment may work without applying makeup. Gold should cause the hemoglobin to rise to the surface of the skin and leave a temporary visible black mark.

4) Check for Identifying Marks

Genuine gold jewelry almost always bears some type of identifying the stamp. It’s usually found inside the bands of rings or on the clasps of necklaces and bracelets but sometimes difficult to find on small earrings. American stamps are based on karats and should read 10, 14, 18 or 24K or kt.

The European measurement system is based on gold content and ranges from one to 999. By this standard, a piece marked 750 is 75 percent gold. This would equate to 18K on the American rating scale.

In Short

Not all that glitters is gold. These tests can give you a good idea of whether you’re dealing with the genuine article or some material made to look like the real thing. Still, they’re not always conclusive. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to turn to a professional for help. Many jewelry stores and pawn shops offer free or low-cost appraisals performed using a combination of specialized equipment and years of experience.

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