Precious metal investors and jewelry purchasers are always concerned just how real the gold they are buying is and with good reason. The Chinese have become masters of faking gold bars and jewelry. A simple google search on “buy fake gold bars” will show you just how easy it can be and how real they look. Many investors have been duped purchasing from places like Ebay. Let’s look at some effortless ways to determine if the gold you bought, or are looking to buy is real.
The Magnet Test
The magnet test is not a fool proof test but it is one of the fastest ways to determine if you are holding fake gold. Gold and silver are not magnetic. You will need to purchase a strong magnet to complete this test. These can be purchased at any hardware store. Place the magnet next to the gold or silver. If there is any reaction at all then the gold or silver is not real. Please be aware that there is plenty of fake gold that will pass the magnet test. Only the cheapest of fake gold and silver will be identified this way.
The Sound Test
There is nothing quite as beautiful as the chime of a gold or silver coin. It is high pitched and resonates for a couple of seconds. The sound test is performed by dropping the gold or silver coin on a hard surface or tapping 2 coins together. Listen for a high-pitched ring tone. Copper and other base metals will have a thud sound. If you do not hear a nice long pitched ring, then you are most likely holding a fake. Please watch the video below to help educate yourself what the correct tones sound like.
The Nitric Acid Test
Fair warning on this test: You will need to scratch the gold item in question. This may not be the best test if the item in question value is determined by the state of the product. The nitric acid test is performed by scratching the gold and putting a nitric acid solution drop on the gold. If the gold turns green, you have found yourself a fake. This will only test the surface of the ring or however far you scratched the item. If you are testing a large bar, the bar will need to be drilled to test the core. If you would like to see how this test is performed – watch the video below.
Thermal Conductivity Test for Silver Only
This test will only be helpful for testing your silver. Silver is one of the best conductors of thermal energy and a simple ice cube will help you complete this test. Place an ice cube on top of the silver. The silver should get cold exceptionally fast and the ice cube should melt faster on the silver than any base metals. In the video below, the tester uses a silver spoon and a stainless-steel spoon. Watch how much faster the silver spoon melts the ice. This is not a fool-proof method, but combining the methods above will give you a good idea if you are dealing with real silver or if you should move on.
Weight and Size Test
In the case of coins, the best way to tell if a coin is real is to compare it to an identical coin that has already been determined to be real. Gold and Silver are dense metals. It is extremely difficult to make a fake gold coin weigh and be the same size as a real coin. It may be easier to take the coin to a precious metals dealer to compare to a real coin. Coins should have posted weights online. In the case of a gold American Eagle a simple google search will show you that the coin should weigh 33.9 grams or 1.0909 troy ounces. This gold coin does have 1 troy ounce of gold in it but it weighs more than an ounce because it is mixed with other metals. Its diameter is 32.7 mm with a thickness of 2.87 mm. If any of these dimensions or weight is off, you are looking at a fake coin.
None of these methods are fool-proof and I would never recommend using these methods to purchase a large gold or silver bar. These methods are best used to determine the legitimacy of coins or small amount of jewelry. If you do want to purchase a large gold or silver bar, please consult an expert and always buy from a trusted source. Precious metal dealers will go through vast amounts of effort to make sure that what they are selling is 100% real. Selling a fake even once will ruin their reputation, even if it was an accident.