How to Tell if Gold is Real


Joseph Peterson


March 23, 2020

Gold has been a base of value for as long as we can remember, being a highly desired metal among other valuable metals. But as the price of gold rises, so does the amount of counterfeit gold. Oftentimes, fake gold can resemble genuine gold at a high level, making it difficult to separate the two. If you don't know how to tell if a necklace is real gold or how to tell if a gold coin is real or fake, here are a few tips you can use to determine the genuinity of your gold.

Look For a Hallmark

One of the first and easiest signs you can spot with real gold is a hallmark. Many jewelers stamp their gold jewelry with the karat (purity) of the gold. For example 14k or 18k. Look closely at the piece of jewelry for a very small stamp. This is often found on the inside of a ring or on the clasp of a bracelet or necklace. Be aware that different regions of the world stamp the purity of their gold differently. If your gold piece has a hallmark, there is a good chance it is made of real gold, however it is not a guarantee. At the same time, if your gold piece doesn't have a hallmark on it, there is still a chance that it's genuine. 

Try the Magnet Test

Perhaps one of the simplest ways to test for real gold is by using the magnet test. Unlike most common metals, gold is nonmagnetic. To perform the magnet test, place your gold piece on a flat surface and use a reasonably strong magnet to try lifting the gold piece off the surface. If the gold piece is lifted by the magnet, your gold contains magnetic metals, meaning it either contains no gold at all or is a mixture of some gold with other metals. If your gold piece is not attracted to the magnet, there is a chance that you have real gold! However, you should be aware that there are other metals that have the same nonmagnetic property as gold. That being said, you should use this test alongside other tests when checking the authenticity of your gold piece.

Ceramic Test

Before performing this test, be aware that it can slightly damage your piece of gold. Take your piece of gold and scrape it against an unglazed ceramic plate or tile (a jewelers stone will also work). If a line of gold coloring is left behind after you scrape it, your piece of gold is real. Otherwise, if no line forms, or if there is a black line left behind, your piece of gold is fake or only plated with gold.

Look for Discoloration

Another simple way to check for genuine gold is by observing the surface of the gold piece. Counterfeit gold can react with your skin, forming a discoloration around the edges of the gold piece. If you find any green or black discoloration, your gold piece is likely fake. 

Consult an Expert

Although there are many other tests you can perform to determine if your gold piece is genuine, taking it into a professional is sometimes the best option, saving you a lot of time and effort. A pawn shop is an excellent place to determine the value of an item. If you believe you have an authentic piece of gold and are hoping to sell it, you can get cash for your gold by taking it to a pawnshop.

Sportsman’s Pawn is fully insured for the loan value of the collateral we keep. We buy and sell a variety of items including Gold & Jewelry, Guns & Ammo, Sporting Goods, Instruments, Electronics, Movies & Games, and more! Looking to get some fast cash? Bring in almost anything of value and we can establish the item’s worth to determine how much to loan you. Check out our two store locations for available products and prices.


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