How To Tell If Gold Is Real: A Complete Guide

Shakespeare coined the phrase, “All that glitters is not gold”. While it was invented as a metaphor, it does have a literal application. Throughout history, gold has long been one of the most sought-after materials by humans. Sadly, for this same reason, it has also been one of the most counterfeited.

If you are someone who owns—or is thinking about buying—gold, then it’s crucial to know how to tell if gold is real or not. So, we’ve provided you with a guide of tests that you can do at home that will help you to evaluate if what you have is the real deal. So, keep reading to find out how to do it.


While some may consider it the easiest thing to bring their gold to one of their nearest cash for gold locations, there are some techniques that clarify gold’s authenticity in seconds. The quickest way is checking for a hallmark. This has been the primary way to check for gold’s authenticity without having to tarnish it anyway.

Almost all authentic gold jewelry has a stamp indicating the karat measurement of the item. The hallmark can usually be found on the clasp of a necklace or bracelet or the inside of a ring.

An item of jewelry without a hallmark may mean that the gold isn’t real. It could also be that the hallmark has faded with time, so don’t go jumping to conclusions.

The Ceramic Scratch Test

This classic way of testing gold involves getting your hands on a piece of unglazed ceramic tile (unglazed only). Scratching your item on the ceramic’s surface should give you one of two results: If it’s real gold it will leave a gold-colored residue behind. If it’s fake gold, the residue of the scratch will be black.

Nitric Acid Test

If you cringed at scratching your gold on a ceramic tile, then this one might not be for you.

Look for an inconspicuous area on your jewelry, and using a small file, make a tiny scratch. This scratch should be deep enough to remove the top layer of the gold.

While following the instructions of the nitric acid drops, apply a drop to the scratched area. Nitric acid doesn’t react with real gold, so if the solution remains clear, you’re in the money! If the solution turns milky or green, it implies that your item consists of predominantly another metal.

Nitic Acid can be very dangerous so proceed with caution. It might be worth knowing that a similar test can also be done with vinegar.

The Strong Magnet Test

Real gold isn’t naturally magnetic. So if you can get your hand on a strong magnet, you can quickly discern whether your gold is real or not. While an item that is magnetic may contain some gold, this test will give you a clear answer as to whether your item is predominantly gold or not.

How to Tell If Gold Is Real: Something to Remember

While the above methods are easy and available at home, none of these tests are perfect for all types of gold. Knowing how to tell if gold is real should be ultimately left to the professionals. People who dedicate their lives to this precious metal can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt whether an item is real without scratching or pouring acid on your precious jewelry.

So, if you are serious about buying or selling gold, at least get a second opinion with the pros because “all that glitters is not gold”!

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