How to Identify Fake Gold Jewellery?
Being a precious metal, gold can be easily imitated into fake jewellery and metal blends. According to most international standards, any jewellery or metal consisting of less than 41.7%, or 10 karats of gold is not considered to be real gold. Throughout its existence, gold has been a part of counterfeiting by jewellers to deceive or defraud their customers. India being the highest consumer of gold, makes this common. So knowing how to test for the genuineness of your gold could save you a lot of hassle and, most essentially - money. Fortunately, thanks to gold's unique properties, it is incredibly difficult to fake it accurately enough, and by following few easy steps, it can be tested at home to check if it is real or not. Read on.
Look for Hallmark
The easiest way to find out whether your gold is real or fake is to check for the hallmark. Sellers make an impression in each gold piece of jewellery they sell. This stamp, or hallmark, tells you what percentage of gold an item consists of. The hallmark is often printed on clasps for gold chains
or bracelets and the inner side of gold rings
or bangles. For coins and bars, it is usually visible on the surface. This jewellery stamp will include the karat, also called the purity, of the piece, such as 14K or 24K. This will also help you determine the final price of the gold piece as the current gold rate in India
is different for different purity levels.
Close to this stamp will be the manufacturer's stamp, which further clarifies genuine gold jewellery. It is recommended to never buy any gold jewellery without a hallmark. In India, the only agency approved by the government, called the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), certifies the purity of gold.
1. The common BIS Logo
2. Purity in Karat and fineness: According to BIS, gold hallmarking is done only for three levels of karats - 22K916 for 22 Karat gold
, 18K750 for 18 Karat gold
& 14K585 for 14 Karat gold.
3. The Hallmarking Centre's logo/number
4. The Jeweler's own logo/mark/number
Hallmarking became prevalent in India only from the year 2000, which is why if you have an older piece of jewellery it may not have a hallmark. This could make you wonder if the piece is forged, so in this case, you should conduct additional tests on the piece.
This test is one of the easiest to carry out at home with minimum things. Using a simple magnet, you can check your gold's genuineness. Real gold never attracts a magnet, so if your gold jewellery piece is drawn to the magnet, then you know it is made from, or at least contains, one or several other metals. However, it is recommended to use the magnet test along with the other criteria mentioned here to be sure as gold is not the only non-magnetic metal.
A container of water is all you need for another easy test. Real gold is a dense metal, so it will immediately sink to the bottom of any liquid. Any size of the genuine gold piece will fall directly to the bottom of the container when immersed fully while fake gold will float or hover above the bottom of the container. Also, real gold will not rust or discolour when wet, so if you see any discolouration, it's probably plated gold.
Rubbing your gold piece over a ceramic plate is another quick and uncomplicated test. Rub the gold piece across an unglazed ceramic plate, applying slight pressure. If you see a gold streak on the plate once you've done this, then the gold is real, while if the streak is black, then it is fake.
Gold is resistant to oxidation or corrosion, so pure gold will not be affected by any acid. Use of an acid test will only harm fake pieces. To conduct an acid test at home, take your piece of jewellery
and make a tiny scratch on the surface. Pour a small drop of liquid nitric acid carefully on that mark and wait for a reaction. Fake gold will instantaneously turn green at that spot, and gold-over-sterling silver will become milky in appearance. If you see a clear drop of liquid that does not change colour then your gold is not forged as pure gold will not react to the nitric acid.
After you have conducted all these tests mentioned above, if they all survive these, you can rest assured knowing that your piece is the real deal.