Gold is one of the most luxurious metals known to man. And because it’s a precious metal with a significantly high monetary value, scammers always try to sell their fake gold items at real gold prices.
Luckily, gold has very remarkable properties, so it’s very easy to learn how to tell if a ring is real gold, even if you have a fake ring that’s carefully forged.
In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best techniques to test gold rings. And although a few of them might require special tools, many of them can actually be done at home.
How Can You Tell if a Ring Is Made of Pure Gold?
Before we get into testing gold rings, you need to keep in mind that there’s no such thing as “100% gold” jewelry. Instead, gold is often mixed with other metals in small quantities to preserve its properties and keep the shape of the jewelry design.
But, putting that aside, there are actually some tests you can do at home to determine whether or not you have a pure gold ring.
How Do You Test Gold Rings at Home?
There are a lot of ways to test pure gold at home, some of which may require specific tools, and some will require extreme caution lest you harm yourself. So we recommend going for the safer, more accessible tests like the water or the magnet tests. But of course, feel free to perform whichever test you prefer.
The Nitric Acid Test
In the nitric acid test, gold is exposed to a few drops of the acid solution to determine its purity. All you have to do is carefully place a couple of nitric acid drops on the ring until a thin layer is formed.
If the ring is real gold, no reactions will take place. However, if other metals are in the composition, a chemical reaction will occur, changing the ring’s appearance.
Again, you must be extremely careful when doing this test because nitric acid can cause contamination and skin burns. So, make sure you’re wearing protective goggles and gloves and that you’re in a well-ventilated room if you decide to go for this method.
The Stamp “Hallmark” Test
Genuine gold rings have a stamp or a hallmark indicating the purity of the gold and telling you if it’s 18K gold, 24K gold, and so on. You can also find the jeweler’s name engraved on the ring if it’s original. But since these hallmarks are very small, you’ll probably need a magnifying glass to see them.
Regardless, if you actually see the stamp on your ring, it’s safe to take it as a sign that the ring is made of real gold since stamps require special tools usually only available with real gold makers.
And here are some of the “good stamps” that indicate the gold content of a genuine piece of gold:
- K or KT — Karat System
- 900 or 950 — Platinum
- PT — Platinum
- PLAT — Platinum
- 18KP — 18 Karat Plum (exactly 18K or higher)
- 14KP — 14 Karat Plum (exactly 14K or higher)
- 10KP — 10 Karat Plum (exactly 10K or higher)
- 18K or 750 — 18 Karat Gold or 75.0% Gold
- 14K or 585 — 14 Karat Gold or 58.5% Gold
- 10K or 417 — 10 Karat Gold or 41.7% Gold
The Water Test
The water test or the density test is an easy test that you can do to pinpoint whether your ring is real gold. Since gold is very dense, it should float when you drop it in a bowl filled with water.
On the other hand, if the ring sinks the moment you drop it, it’s most likely made of other metals.
The Cosmetics Test
Applying liquid foundation and powder is an easy way of testing gold. If the gold ring is real, a black streak will appear. However, if you can’t see a black mark, you’re probably dealing with imitation gold.
The Ceramic Tile Test
If your home flooring is made of ceramic tiling, you could try rubbing your ring against an unglazed ceramic plate and see if a gold streak appears on the tile. If you rub it many times and you still can’t see a visible mark with consistent direct contact, chances are the ring is fake.
The Magnet Test
Yellow gold and white gold aren’t magnetic, meaning that they won’t be attracted to magnetic forces when exposed to them.
To do the magnet test, place a strong magnet near your gold item and see how it responds. If the ring sticks to the magnet immediately and strongly, it’s probably a fake ring. However, if the magnet induces little or no movement in the ring, there’s a high chance that it’s made of real gold.
Just keep in mind that your ring will move in all cases since real gold rings are still mixed with some impurities from other metals. However, the magnetic effect won’t be as strong as it’d be on a fake ring.
Also, remember that the ring might be made of some other non-magnetic material, which could trick you into thinking that it’s made of gold. So, we recommend doing other tests alongside the magnet method to confirm the purity of your ring.
The Size and Weight Test
One way to tell whether your gold ring is genuine or not is by measuring its dimensions and weight. Your ring can be considered fake if the dimensions seem overly exaggerated relative to the weight.Of course, this depends on the purity of the gold used to make the gold item. So, you can try this method after performing the hallmark test and learning what stamp your ring has.
The Test of Time
It’s a no-brainer that fake gold rings change in appearance with time; fake gold pieces often develop bluish or greenish tints over time due to the base metals they’re made of.
Additionally, fake rings are often more prone to scratches. So, a good way of telling whether or not an old ring you have is fake would be looking for signs of wear like discoloring, overly visible scratches, and deep dents.
Consider Taking Your Ring to a Professional Jeweler
If none of these tests work for you, or if you still have doubts, taking your ring to a reputable jeweler might be a good idea. Jewelers have a lot of experience in the industry, and they can easily tell whether your ring is the real deal using advanced techniques.
How Can You Tell if a Ring Is Solid Gold or Plated?
You can distinguish between solid gold and plated rings through the scratch test. To carry out this test, you need a hard tool to scratch the ring with. If the gold item is made of solid gold, no amount of scratching will cause its color to change.
However, be careful with this method because if the ring is actually gold-plated, too much scratching may ruin its appearance. It’s also recommended that you scratch the inner part of the ring instead of the outer part since it’s less visible.
Another test you can do is the acid experiment. By exposing the ring to a few drops of an acidic liquid, you’ll be able to tell if it’s solid gold or gold plated.
You can also identify plated gold by its vibrant yellow hue. Solid gold rings have more of a muted yellow hue, while gold plated rings are often a very bright yellow.
Is There a Device to Check if Gold Is Real or Fake?
There’s no specialty device designed exclusively to check if gold is real or fake. However, some jewelers have magnetic gold testing machines that can identify authentic gold with magnetism, but they’re not explicitly designed to test gold or gold-filled products.
Does Fake Gold Irritate the Skin?
Fake gold jewelry may irritate the skin, but so can real gold. If you have an allergic reaction to certain metals, your skin may become irritated when exposed to any jewelry piece containing them, be it fake or real.
To sum it all up, figuring out if a jewelry piece is made of real gold can be done in multiple ways. These include the nitric acid test, the magnetism test, the float test, the stamp test, and the ceramic scratch test. Of course, some of them are easier to do than others, so pick the ones that’ll cause you the least hassle.
Also, keep in mind that, for the most accurate results, it’s recommended that you carry out at least two tests to confirm that your ring is made of real gold.
Gold jewelry or any jewelry items made of precious metals are some of the most replicated items in the world, but with the right tests, you can easily distinguish the fake from the real.