Real Gold or Fake Gold: How to Tell the Difference

Gold is a precious metal, but first and foremost it is one of the oldest commodities in the world. Having been used as money for more than 3500 years, gold's value is often a direct indication of the state of the world's economy: When the dollar decreases, the value of gold increases. While having stocks and stores of gold can be good for your future, it also means that it's possible there's someone out there trying to pass off fake gold as authentic.

On a smaller scale, jewelry for example, how do you go about discerning whether or not the gold hoop earrings you're holding are fake or real? For starters, note that real gold does not rust. Also, gold is heavy and therefore displaces water, so the item should be heavy for its size. Aside from these notations, there are a few simple tests that you can run to test your gold jewelry.

It is not recommend that you bite your jewelry, as suggested in the past. While it is true that applying pressure to gold will leave a mark, this also just means that you've got a bite mark on your favorite gold hoops! Plus, tricksters have found a way around this: they simply coat lead in a plate of gold. Since lead is soft, it does mark, making the item appear to be pure gold.

Gold is not magnetic, so the magnet test is a good place to start, although not fool proof. If your gold pendant is affected by a magnet in any way, it is not authentic gold. However, scammers also use non-magnetic metals, which would not be attracted to the magnet, and therefore appear to be gold. So again, this is not a full proof test.

If a piece of jewelry is plated in gold, inevitably the edges will wear over time, revealing the solid metal underneath. This is a sure sign that your jewelry is not 100% gold, but is gold plated. Gold plating is a process in which a thin layer of gold is deposited onto the surface of a less expensive metal.

You can also purchase a testing stone or an electronic gold tester, but these may not be reasonable purchases if you don't have a need for testing a lot of jewelry, as they cost between $50-100. The best way to test your gold jewelry is to take it to a reputable jewelry store and have them do it for you. This will ensure that the test is accurate and you will know for sure if your jewelry is real gold or fake gold.
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