Selling guides, Tips and tricks

How to Tell if Gold Is Real: Your Guide to Home Testing

Gold Jewellery In A Bow
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Whether you're considering parting ways with inherited treasures or looking to capitalize on the enduring value of gold jewellery, ensuring its authenticity is essential. In an age where we expect results fast, it makes sense to be able to tell if you own real gold, fake gold, or even gold-plated items. 

Believe it or not, discerning between genuine gold and its replicas is easy when you know what to look for. The ability to test gold from the comfort of your own home is much easier than you might think. From searching for gold markings and trying the magnet test to hallmark identification and the float test, this guide will help you to understand the value of your gold and give you some ways to test whether it’s real. 

Is All Gold Valuable?

While this precious metal is universally admired for its intrinsic beauty and historical significance, not all gold is created equal in terms of value. The value of gold is determined by several factors, with purity being chief among them. Pure gold, often referred to as 24 karat gold, is the most valuable due to its unadulterated composition. However, most gold jewellery is not made of pure gold but rather alloys that include other metals to enhance durability and alter its colour.

In addition, factors such as rarity, craftsmanship, and historical significance can influence the value of this precious metal beyond its intrinsic gold content. Antique pieces or those crafted by renowned designers may command higher prices due to their unique qualities and desirability among collectors.

In essence, while all gold possesses inherent value, not all gold jewellery may hold significant monetary worth. Let's take a look at the different types of gold you may have at home that you can sell for cash.

Different Types of Gold

Below is a summary of the different types of gold:

  • Pure Gold (24 karat): Consists of 99.9% gold and is the highest purity available. It's often used for investment purposes and in the creation of high-end jewellery pieces due to its rich, vibrant colour and inherent value.
  • 22 Karat Gold: Contains 91.7% gold in the karat system and is commonly used in jewellery making for its balance of purity and durability. This type of gold is suitable for crafting intricate jewellery pieces like earrings, necklaces, and bangles.
  • 18 Karat Gold: Comprises 75% gold and is popular for fine jewellery due to its balance of purity and strength. It's commonly used for engagement rings, wedding bands, and other statement pieces due to its durability and ability to hold gemstones securely.
  • 14 Karat Gold: Contains 58.3% gold and is commonly used in mainstream jewellery for its affordability and longevity. It's ideal for everyday jewellery pieces like a gold ring, bracelets, and pendants that require resilience to wear and tear.
  • 10 Karat Gold: Consists of 41.7% gold and is commonly used in jewellery making for its affordability and durability. It's suitable for crafting a wide range of jewellery items, including earrings, charms, and chains, offering a balance between value and longevity.
  • 9 Karat Gold: Consists of 37.5% gold and is another popular choice. 
  • Gold Plated: A thin layer of gold electroplated onto a base metal, providing the appearance of gold at a lower cost. Gold plated jewelry is commonly used for fashion jewelry items like costume earrings, bracelets, and pendants. It can also show signs of wear and tear, for example, if a piece of gold jewelry turns black then chances are it's gold-plated.
  • Gold Filled: A thicker layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base metal, offering more durability and longevity compared to gold plating. It's commonly used for high-quality jewellery items like chains, bracelets, and brooches, providing a more affordable alternative to solid gold.
  • Vermeil: Sterling silver coated with a thick layer of gold, providing the look of gold jewellery at a more affordable price point. Vermeil jewellery often includes items like rings, earrings, and pendants, offering a luxurious appearance without the high cost of solid gold.
  • Rolled Gold or Gold-Filled Jewellery: A solid layer of gold bonded to a base metal through heat and pressure, offering a more affordable alternative to solid gold jewellery. This type of gold is commonly used for durable jewellery items like chains, bangles, and watch cases, providing the appearance of gold without the hefty price tag.

Why Is Rolled Gold So Popular?

Rolled gold offers durability and longevity, making it a practical choice for everyday wear. Unlike gold-plated jewellery, which may wear off over time, rolled gold maintains its lustrous appearance for years to come. The thick layer of gold bonded to a base metal ensures that the jewellery withstands the rigours of daily use without losing its shine or colour. 

How to Tell if Gold is Real

Checking to see if you have fake gold jewelry before you go to the effort of selling your pieces online makes sense. Whether you think you have real gold at home, or you're worried that a family heirloom is fake gold, the best way to check is to conduct some simple tests.


Checking gold for hallmarks is like looking for a little stamp of authenticity. These hallmarks are tiny marks or symbols that are usually stamped onto gold jewellery by the manufacturer or jeweller. They can tell you a lot about the piece you're holding, like its purity and sometimes even where it was made.

When you're inspecting your gold jewellery, keep an eye out for these hallmarks. You might see numbers like 24K, 18K, or 14K, which indicate the purity of the gold. Other symbols might indicate the manufacturer or country of origin. If your gold jewellery has these hallmarks, it's a good sign that you're holding the real deal.

Letter markings

These letter markings, often referred to as maker's marks or stamps, can offer insights into the origin and quality of the gold piece. Manufacturers or jewellers often imprint their unique initials or logos onto gold jewellery to signify their craftsmanship and authenticity. 

Additionally, some letter markings indicate the gold's purity, similar to hallmarks. For example, "GF" may indicate gold filled, while "GP" could signify gold plated. However, it's essential to note that not all gold items will have letter markings, and their absence doesn't necessarily imply a lack of authenticity.

The Magnet Test

You can test your gold jewellery with a strong magnet. The magnet test is a quick and simple method to initially assess the authenticity of gold jewellery. Genuine gold is not magnetic, so if a piece of jewellery is attracted to a strong magnet, it likely contains other metals or alloys mixed in with the gold. However, consider combining this test with others to determine whether or not your jewellery is pure gold.

The Water or Float Test

Another simple way to test gold is the water test. You can test gold at home by using a water  method known as the "density test" or "specific gravity test." Since gold is denser than most other metals, it will sink when submerged in water. To perform this test, you first weigh the gold jewellery on a scale to determine its mass. Then, you fill a container with water and note the water level. Next, gently lower the gold jewellery into the water and observe whether it sinks or floats.

If the gold sinks, it indicates a high density and is likely real gold. However, if it floats or remains suspended in the water, it suggests a lower density, indicating the presence of other metals or alloys or imitation gold. While this test can provide useful insights, it's advisable to supplement it with additional testing methods for a more comprehensive assessment of the gold's authenticity.

The Vinegar Test

Testing real gold at home with vinegar involves a simple yet effective method to assess its authenticity. Vinegar, a mild acid, can help distinguish genuine gold from imitations based on its reaction. To conduct this test, place a few drops of vinegar onto the surface of the gold jewellery and observe any changes.

Real gold will not react to vinegar, remaining unaffected by the acid. However, if the gold jewellery shows signs of discolouration, such as tarnishing or greenish residue, it suggests the presence of other metals or alloys. While this simple acid test offers a quick and accessible way to verify if gold is real, it's essential to exercise caution and consider testing gold in multiple ways.

The Ceramic Plate Test

One of the simplest and oldest methods to test gold at home is by using a ceramic surface. You can conduct this test by gently scraping the gold item against a piece of unglazed ceramic, such as the back of an unglazed ceramic plate, tile or porcelain plate. Authentic gold will leave a distinct mark on the ceramic surface, appearing as a golden streak or line. This is because gold is a soft metal, and when rubbed against ceramic, it will leave behind a visible trail due to its malleability. 

Conversely, if the gold item fails to leave any mark or leaves a black streak instead, it suggests that the piece may not be genuine gold. This test is a quick and straightforward method to conduct at home, but it's essential to perform it with caution to avoid damaging your gold jewellery. 

The Skin Test

Testing for real or fake gold by rubbing it on your skin is a method that has been passed down through generations. The idea behind the skin test is that the gold piece should not cause any reaction or discolouration when rubbed against the skin, as gold is hypoallergenic and inert. Gold itself is generally non-reactive, so it should not cause any irritation or discolouration when in contact with the skin. 

However, many factors can influence how gold reacts with the skin, including individual skin chemistry, the presence of other substances on the skin, and the purity of the gold itself. While rubbing gold on your skin may not provide conclusive evidence of its authenticity, it can still be a quick and easy way to test gold at home and gauge its reaction. 

Final Thoughts

Figuring out whether the gold we have tucked away at home is real or not can be a game-changer in more ways than one. It's not just about satisfying our curiosity – it's about making practical choices that can simplify our lives and put some extra cash in our pockets. 

Once we know if a gold item is real, we can decide what to do with it. Maybe it's time to part ways with an old gold ring for a bit of extra money, maybe you're fed up with the gold coin collection you inherited from an uncle, or perhaps you have some gold plated pieces that you no longer love - whatever the case, clearing out the clutter and uncertainty around our gold items and testing gold at home can feel like a fresh start. How much gold do you have at home? 

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