How-To Guides

How to Test Gold at Home?

Shreya Matta

Shreya Matta

July 27, 2022
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Gold is one of the most valuable metals out there and it comes in various colors and styles. If you have gold jewelry yourself, it’s important that you know how to test gold at home to find out whether the gold is pure or not as everything gold is not necessarily real gold. In this article, we begin to explore the methods of testing gold at home. When you get a gold item, it doesn’t need to be in the purest form, the jewelers usually mix other metals in the gold to make it more durable.

The real gold in its purest form is a soft metal that can be easily bent. This is the reason you need to know what Karat gold you have in your possession. It could be gold-plated, gold dipped, or even gold-filled, which is different than real gold. When you get a piece of gold jewelry it usually comes with a mark on it, telling the purity level of the gold which is measured in Karats. It could be either 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, or 24k, depending on its purity. If there is no stamp on your gold then surely you will need to test it.

Testing Gold with Vinegar

3 Ways to Test Gold at Home - wikiHowOne way you could test the purity of gold is by using vinegar. All you need to do is get the jewelry item you want to test and white vinegar.

  • Place your jewelry on a table or hold it in your hand
  • Pour some white vinegar on the metal directly (a dropper can be used)
  • If the metal of the jewelry changes its color, it is not pure gold and if it keeps shining then you have real gold in your hand.

You can also fill a cup or glass with white vinegar, and drop your gold in it, let it soak for 5-8 minutes, take it out and rinse with water. If the metal has changed its color even slightly, then the gold is not pure but if it keeps shining, then the gold is pure.

Use Makeup to Test Gold at Home 

3 Ways to Test Gold at Home - wikiHowAnother way to test your gold at home is to use a liquid foundation. It may not be as reliable as other sources when it comes to testing your gold but it is good enough to know if the gold is real or fake.

  • Pour some of the liquid foundations on your hand, blend it into your skin and let it dry.
  • Take your gold and rub it on the area where you have applied the foundation.
  • If that area turns black or rubbing the gold leaves a black mark behind then it is evident that the gold is pure. But if rubbing the gold does not affect the foundation applied area, we are sorry to tell you that the gold is not real.

Acid Test

The most trustworthy method to test if something is gold-plated or solid gold is to have an acid test done it.

  • For the acid test, take a small piece of jewelry, or using a small needle scratch a tiny part in your gold, take a dropper given in the acid kit, and fill it with acid.
  • Now use this dropper to inject that scratch with a small drop of acid.
  • The scratched part is likely to change its color in response to the reaction with the acid.
  • Look carefully which color has it changed to and match it with the color card given in the acid kit.

This will not only tell you if the gold was fake or real but will also help you in identifying the actual metal it is. The acid gold testing kit is also used to determine the Karat of the gold. If you decide to use this method, please read the instruction given in the kit carefully before you begin the procedure.

Test Gold using the Float Test

The simplest way to find out if the gold is real or not is to have a float test. It is the simplest way since only a glass of water is required to administer it.

  • Take a cup or glass, fill it up with water, and now bring the gold that you want to test.
  • Drop it into this filled glass.
  • If the gold floats, it is surely not real but if the gold sinks to the end of the glass then it is pure gold. The real gold will sink due to being heavy metal.

Test Gold using the Magnet Test

3 Ways to Test Gold at Home - wikiHowReal gold is not magnetic, but many other metals are. If you have a relatively strong magnet (something stronger than a fridge magnet), you can easily test if your gold is real by placing the magnet near the piece and seeing if it is attracted to the magnet.
For this test, you will need a stronger than the usual magnet you have at home.

  • Use a Powerful Neodymium Magnet.
  • Take the gold that you want to test and place it on a wooden surface.
  • Bring the magnet closer to the gold, gradually. If the gold is attracted to the magnet, it is not real gold but if the gold remains indifferent to the magnet then it is in fact real.

Skin Test for Gold

This test requires a little more time than some of the other tests but is especially helpful for jewelry. It will also reveal if a piece of jewelry is fake over time, that you thought was real and maybe had no initial suspicions about!
Real gold will never make your skin turn green. If your jewelry changes the color of your skin to a bluish or greenish tint, it’s not real gold.

Smell Test: Ideal for small Gold pieces

You know that awful smell your hands get after you hold some coins in them for some time? We’re looking for that smell in this test. This test can be done in three easy steps:

  • Make sure your hands are sweaty, then place your gold jewelry of choice in the palm of your hand
  • Place your other hand over it, and vigorously rub your hands together with your jewelry between them;
  • Finally, place your nose close to your palms and smell them. If it does not smell like anything in particular, then your jewelry has passed the test. But if your hands smell like coins, then it’s quite likely you’re dealing with fake gold.

Lighter Test: Burning to Test Gold

3 Ways to Test Gold at Home - wikiHowThis is an easy-to-do test commonly known by pawnshop owners, who often are presented with gold jewelry that could be fake.

  • First, make sure you have a lighter that produces a constant flame that’s not very small. An ordinary disposable lighter is not ideal but can be used. Also, make sure your lighter is properly fueled with lighter fluid.
  • Now, hang your jewelry on a piece of metal or some other tool that won’t melt or burn. You may cover the ends of your pliers to minimize the risk of damaging your jewelry.
  • Finally, proceed to apply the lighter’s flame to your gold piece. Keep the flame on it for about a minute. If the metal starts to get darker and darker, chances are it’s not gold.

Real, pure gold, when exposed to the flame, will get brighter after a while as it gets hotter, but will not darken. Fake gold pieces, such as fool’s gold (actually pyrite, an iron sulfide) and pieces made of brass, iron, or copper alloys will darken or otherwise change color when exposed to fire. Additionally, if the jewelry piece is only gold plated (covered with a thin layer of gold but made of other metals inside) then the thin gold plating should start to melt, revealing the inner metal.

Use Water to Test Density

3 Ways to Test Gold at Home - wikiHowThis is a decent way to tell if your gold jewelry is real without any risk of damaging it, but it requires a few tools and some knowledge of math.

  • First, you need to find out the weight of your piece in grams. This requires a small, sensitive scale.
  • Secondly, you’ll need to fill a vial with water. Make sure the vial is big enough to hold your gold piece in it. Do not fill it to the top, but fill it just enough so that you can completely submerge your gold piece in the water.
  • Now you want to place your gold piece in the vial with water. Take note of the difference in water level from before and after you put the gold piece in and calculate the difference between the two measurements (just subtract the smaller measure from the greater measure);
  • Now, here comes the math part. Use the following formula to calculate the density of your gold piece: Density = mass/volume displaced.
  • A value close to 19 g/ml indicates that your jewelry piece is either gold or a material with a density that is close to gold.

Gold pieces of different purity have different density ratios. Use these values as guidelines to find out:

Purity with respect to Density

  • 14k gold – 12.9 to 14.6 g/ml
  • 18k yellow gold – 15.2 to 15.9 g/ml
  • 18k white gold – 14.7 to 16.9 g/ml
  • 22k gold – 17.7 to 17.8 g/ml

Ceramic Test using Unglazed Ceramic Tile

This test is actually quite simple and takes only a second to do. To do it, you’ll need an unglazed piece of ceramic, such as the unglazed bottom of a plate. If the ceramic is glazed, this method will not work.

To do this, simply pick your gold piece and carefully drag it across the unglazed ceramic surface so that it creates a streak on it. A black or otherwise dark-colored streak means your piece is not made of gold, while a gold streak indicates that it is genuine.

Again, be careful when doing this, and bear in mind that your item may end up scratched. Usually, a little polish is enough to do away with the marks, but if done improperly, the piece may require repair.

Conclusion

Testing gold at home can be a convenient and cost-effective way to ensure the authenticity of your precious metal. By following a few simple methods and using readily available tools, you can determine if your gold is genuine or not. These methods include conducting a visual inspection, performing a magnet test, conducting a density test, and using an acid test kit.

Each method has its own advantages and limitations, but when used together, they provide a comprehensive assessment of your gold’s authenticity. By learning how to test gold at home, you can make informed decisions when buying or selling gold and protect yourself from counterfeit items.

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