If you’re reading this article, I am sure you love to know about gold. You want to buy gold as an investment and you want to know the tips that can help you to tell if the gold is real or not. For example, You have only a lighter and you want to know “How to Check if Gold is Real with a Lighter”. Let me start with the definition of gold.
Do you know what exactly gold is?
Gold is the classic symbol of status, power, luxury, and wealth. For thousands of years, It has been considered one of the most valuable materials in the world. There’s no doubt that it still holds a lot of appeal for many people.
Like other precious gemstones and metals, gold is also counterfeited in high volumes. These counterfeited gold pieces can be tricky to spot.
Don’t worry! In this article, we’ll be sharing some useful tips on how to check if gold is real with a lighter and some other methods. With a few simple tests, you can spot fake gold. This article will also explore some history and properties of gold. Also, the characteristics of pure gold.
Historical Background of Gold:
For thousands of years, gold has been one of the most precious metals in the world. People have used it as currency, architecture, jewelry, decor, and art. Some ancient nations even believed it to have healing powers. It was first found in rivers and then excavated from mines.
Gold has a shiny yellow texture and remarkable malleability. It has been used for making jewelry and art pieces for centuries.
Egyptians owned a lot of gold. They used it to craft jewelry and other ornaments for royals. They also used to trade with gold bars. It is still a major asset in banks all over the world.
What is Real Gold?
Pure gold is too soft for making jewelry. That’s why some impurities are mixed with it. As a result, gold jewelry contains some other metals too.
The karat value you see on your jewelry tells the percentage of pure gold in it. You can calculate how much metal was used in its crafting.
Here’s what karat values mean:
- 24 karat Gold = 100% pure
- 22 karat Gold = 91.7% pure
- 18 karat Gold = 75% pure
- 14 karat Gold = 58.33% pure
Karat values tell the percentage of pure gold content in your jewelry items. Higher karat values mean you have more pure gold and fewer alloys. And lower karat values show you’re getting less-pure gold with a higher content of gold alloy metals.
But, you’ll pay for the amount of gold you get. For the 24-karat gold, the price is the highest.
Properties of Gold:
Its beauty isn’t the only reason why gold is considered so special. Other than its rich warm yellow tone and natural shine, gold has some other useful properties too.
- Gold is a malleable metal. The malleability of pure gold makes it so useful. It is easy to work with. It can be molded and crafted easily.
- Jewelry makes love its flexibility. Gold plating is the best example of just how ductile gold can be.
- Gold leaf can be pounded to a slimness of seven-millionths of an inch. This means that a stack of 7,055 gold sheets would be as thick as a dime.
- Gold is an excellent conductor of electricity and heat. It is an even better conductor than copper and silver. The reason is that it is unaffected by tarnish.
- It reflects heat and light. Space helmets feature an extremely thin layer of gold to reduce glare.
Beware of Counterfeited Gold: Don’t Be Fooled By Fake Gold Bars
Gold is an expensive and desirable metal. There are a lot of scammers trying to sell fake gold as the real one.
Here are some of the most common options to avoid if you are looking for the real thing. Understand these before buying gold jewelry.
Gold plating is very common. It’s done by coating a very thin layer of gold on a cheap metal. It may look exactly like pure gold jewelry. But it is nowhere near as valuable as solid gold.
Pyrite is a mineral that looks very like genuine gold. It is also called “Fool’s Gold” because it’s so easy to fool people about its authenticity.
Don’t get tricked into thinking that pyrite is gold. Gold is resistant to tarnish and does not change color over time. But pyrite will tarnish and change its color. After tarnish, you can see green and black staining on your jewelry.
Pinchbeck is an alloy of copper and zinc. It looks like gold because it replicates the bright golden shade of original gold. Pinchbeck is mostly used to make inexpensive replicas of antiques and costume jewelry.
A thin wash of gold is applied to the surface of sterling silver to give it a look of real gold. This thin coating will wear off over time. Also, polishing the jewelry too much can take off the coating.
Benefits of Knowing These Tricks
Gold is one of the most valuable metals on Earth. It’s stunning, rare, and expensive. Knowing how to check if gold is real with a lighter and other methods can help you:
- Avoid being cheated by scammers
- Avoid being tricked into buying fake gold jewelry
- Avoid paying high prices for fake gold pieces
Make sure you are buying real & genuine gold. Whether it’s for your collection or as an investment.
How To Check If Gold Is Real With A Lighter? (The Lighter Test)
One way to test if gold is real is to use a lighter. But do you know how to check if Gold is real with a lighter actually? This test is very easy and extremely effective when done right.
This test is only good for solid gold. Like gold bars and solid lockets. As solid gold has no overlay or base metal, it will not react to heat.
This test is not viable for gold-plated jewelry. Like gold chains, bracelets, or necklaces. Heat will damage these items.
Why a lighter? Because most people have it in their pockets or at home. You can also buy one at your local store.
Tips for The Lighter Test:
Follow these tips while performing the test.
Get the Correct Type of Lighter:
You need an extremely hot and stable flame that you can control easily. This cannot be done with an ordinary disposable lighter. You need to use a butane lighter. Make sure your lighter has a full tank. Because you need a constant flame for his test.
Don’t Hold Gold in Your Hands:
Don’t hold your gold in your hand while performing the test. Hang it on something that’s not flammable. Like a nail hammered into a wall or a metal hook. Make sure you don’t burn your fingers.
Hold the Gold with Something Inflammable:
The gold may be of such a shape that it cannot be hung. Make sure you’re holding it with a pair of tongs or pliers. Because the gold will get very hot during the test.
Do the Test in the Garage or Outside:
For safety, you should do this test in your garage or outside of your house. This way, you can avoid any accident or damage to your house.
Heat the Gold with the Lighter:
Once everything is ready, start the test.
- Hold the gold with a pair of tongs or pliers.
- Apply the flame to the solid gold for about 60 seconds.
- Heat larger pieces for longer. Like gold bars.
- Put the gold in water to cool it down.
- Look for any color changes.
Fake gold will get darker. But pure gold will do the opposite. It will get brighter the hotter it gets. If your gold gets brighter, you have the original gold.
The flame should be extremely hot. You will have to heat the gold according to its size. If it’s a large piece, it may take more time.
Watch the video, you will understand the process easily.
Why Does this Lighter Test Work?
Real gold gets brighter when exposed to flame. Other metals like steel, copper, nickel, iron, and brass will change color. They get darker when heated.
With extreme heat, gold simply melts. That’s why it can be easily molded and shaped into different crafts. It doesn’t lose its luster and beautiful yellow-gold color.
Plated jewelry pieces can have two types of overlay. The original gold plating and the imitation gold plating. Both of these overlays react to heat. So, it is hard to tell which one is real gold. That’s why this test is not appropriate for plated jewelry.
18 Other Tricks: How to Tell if Gold is Real?
After learning about how to check if gold is real with a lighter, you can also get to know the following methods.
The Color Test:
Gold has a metallic luster and its surface does not show any sign of tarnish. Take a magnifying glass and check the color of your jewelry. Here are some genuine colors of gold:
- 24 karat items = Orange-yellow color
- 18 karat items = Rich buttery color
- 14 karat items = Straw yellow color
24K gold items do not change color under normal circumstances. But 18K gold or 14K may change color with time. This is because of the copper or silver alloys. Additionally, if you keep wearing fake gold jewelry, it will get darker pretty fast. The fake jewelry items that get darker very fast may contain steel or brass.
Follow these steps to check if your gold is real or not by doing a color test. It is an easy test but you cannot fully rely on its results.
Look for Hallmarks / Stamps:
Hallmark is an international standard for representing the purity of precious metals. But, it’s not a reliable test. Manufacturers can lie while engraving these markings.
Looking for hallmarks is the easiest method of checking its authenticity. Hallmarks or stamps can be at any place on the gold jewelry piece. Necklaces, Bangles, and Rings have the hallmark on their inner sides. On necklaces and bracelets, hallmarks or stamps can be found near their clasps.
Commonly, the karat system is used for hallmarks. But the European gold crafts may use a millesimal fineness scale.
Note: The presence or absence of a hallmark is not definitive proof.
If you find a hallmark below 10K or 0.417 on a millesimal fineness scale, your item will not be considered real or solid gold.
The following hallmarks (karat system) can be engraved on your gold item:
- 24K (999)
- 23K (958.3)
- 22K (916)
- 20K (834)
- 18K (750)
- 15K (625)
- 14K (583.3)
- 10K (417)
- 9K (375)
- 8K (333)
Explanation: 24K gold has 99.9% of gold and 8K has only 33.3% gold.
Note: Anything less than 10k is not considered gold.
Letter Marking Test:
Letter markings indicate mostly gold-plated jewelry items, which are not real. Letter markings can tell the extent to which your item is gold-plated. Here’s how:
- GP = Gold Plated
- GF = Gold Filled
- GE = Gold Electroplated
- GEP = Gold Electro Plated
- HGP = Heavy Gold Plated
- HEG = Heavy Gold Electroplated
Gold Plated items are not gold. They just have a thin coating of gold. This layer can fade over time. If you find any of the above markings on your items, it’s not gold.
The Size and Weight test:
The size and weight are two more tests that will help you check the authenticity of gold. Gold is a dense metal and that’s why it is heavy. It weighs more than other metals. It means if you weigh the same sizes of gold and other metals, gold’s weight will be higher. Here are some weights, including gold.
- Gold = 19.3 grams per cubic centimeter (cc)
- Lead = 11.34 grams per cubic centimeter (cc)
- Copper = 8.96 grams per cubic centimeter (cc)
- Aluminum = grams per cubic centimeter (cc)
If your jewelry does not weigh according to the given scale, then it may be tampered with. There may be some other metal added to make it look bigger. Usually, steel or brass is mixed with gold for this purpose.
The Skin Test:
In this simple test, you need to look for a bluish or greenish tint on your skin. Here’s how you do it:
- Wash your hands properly before starting the test.
- Hold a piece of gold jewelry in your hands for 4 to 5 minutes.
- The sweat from your hands will react with the metal.
- It will either change the color of your skin or not.
- If it’s real, there is no discoloration.
- If it’s fake gold, the contact points of your skin may turn black, blue, or green.
- Discoloration means you have an alloy instead of the original gold.
The Magnet Test:
Checking the authenticity of your gold with a magnet is the easiest test. You just need a strong rare earth magnet. You can buy it at a hardware store. Here’s how you do the test:
- First, make sure that your gold piece has no dirt on it.
- Place your gold piece on the wood.
- Touch the gold with the magnet, or
- Scan it with the magnet, and
- See if it sticks or not.
- If it sticks, you’re likely to be having counterfeited gold.
Pure gold is a non-magnetic metal. If your jewelry gives a reaction to the magnet, there might be something with iron or copper in it. This test is best for checking the authenticity of gold-plated jewelry.
Note: This is not an ultimate test. Sometimes, there is a non-magnetic metal under the gold plating.
The Float Test ( Water Test):
Follow these steps to know how to test if gold is real using water:
- Take a jug and fill half of it with water.
- Drop the gold gently into the water.
- Gold is dense and heavy.
- It will quickly sink to the bottom.
- If it doesn’t float at all, you have real gold.
- If it floats or sinks slowly, you probably have a counterfeit.
Note: The temperature of the water has no effect on this test.
The Ceramic Scratch Test:
This is another simple test that can be conducted by using a ceramic tile. Take a piece of unglazed ceramic and try gently scraping your gold on its surface.
- If you notice small golden flakes on the ceramic, it means you have original gold.
- If you see a black trail on the ceramic, your gold is probably not real.
The Density Test:
In the density test, you need to calculate the density of your gold item. If the result is close to standard gold density, it is considered real. If not, you might be holding a counterfeit. For this test, you can follow the following procedure.
- A kitchen scale
- A container with measurement markings
- Measure the weight of gold in grams on the scale and note it down.
- Take a container with cubic centimeter or millimeter markings on it.
- Fill half of it with water. Record the water level.
- Drop the gold piece gently into the container and record the new water level.
- Subtract the first water level reading from the second one. Then divide the gold’s weight by this number.
- Density = (Weight of Gold Piece)/(Second Water Level-First Water Level)
Imp. Note: For real gold, the result should be about 19.3 grams per cubic centimeter. This is gold’s normal density.
The Baking Soda Test:
Baking soda can cause a chemical reaction that can result in the discoloration of fake gold. Here’s how you can check your gold authenticity with baking soda:
- Take a bowl. Make a paste of baking soda and water in it.
- Rub the paste onto a small portion of your gold jewelry.
- Leave it on the jewelry for at least 30 minutes.
- Rinse the jewelry with water.
- Remove the baking soda to the last bit.
- Dry your gold jewelry with a clean and soft cloth.
- Baking soda is a coarse compound that contains an alkaline substance. If your piece is fake, it will permanently change its color. Especially if the fake gold items are made of brass, zinc, copper, or bronze.
- When baking soda is rubbed on a gold-plated item, the metal underneath is revealed. Baking soda causes deep scratches on gold-plated items.
- If your gold piece is real, baking soda will have no effect on it. Rather the baking soda paste will make your gold clean and shiny.
The Acid Test:
Other than how to check if Gold is real with a lighter, you can also check it with acid. The acid test can be performed in two ways:
- Make a small scratch on your gold.
- Apply a few drops of white vinegar to that part.
- Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Rinse the gold with water.
- Dry it with a clean and soft cloth.
- If it’s real, there will be no change.
- If it’s fake gold, it will change color.
Some fake gold pieces have high-quality metals. They may not react with vinegar.
Read more about the “Vinegar Test“.
The Nitric Acid Test:
This is a more advanced test. You should have experience of working with dangerous chemicals. Gold is resistant to erosion, oxidation, and acid.
- For this test, rub your gold on a black stone and leave a visible dent.
- Apply a few drops of nitric acid to the dent.
- If there’s any other metal, the acid will dissolve it.
- Acid has no effect on real gold.
Note: To make the dent disappear, apply Nitrohydrochloric acid to the dent. It is also called Aqua Regia. It is 75% nitric acid and 25% hydrochloric acid.
Acid tests are not reliable because of the impurities. If acid is not applied properly, you will not get accurate results. Also, if you’re using poor-quality acid, you will not get accurate results.
The Lemon Test:
How to check if gold is real with a lemon? Well, lemon is acidic in nature. This makes it a possible way to check gold’s authenticity. You need the following things to get started with this test:
- A Fresh Lemon
- A Liquid Dropper
- A Needle
- A Soft Cloth
- At the back of your gold piece, make a little scratch with the needle.
- Cut the lemon and squeeze it into a cup.
- Use the dropper to put a tiny drop of lemon juice on the scratch.
- If you can’t find a dropper, you can squeeze a tiny drop of lemon onto the scratch.
- Look for any discoloration there.
- Try this with more than two different scratches to make sure.
Tip: Use a ripe lemon for this test. Ripe lemon is more acidic. They have higher amounts of citric acid.
- Fake gold will change its color to a darker shade.
- Real gold will retain its lustrous yellow color.
Real gold is highly resistant to corrosion and tarnish. Most acidic substances have no effect on real gold. But the low-quality metals react to the acidity of lemon juice. If your gold piece is gold-plated, the base metal will be revealed.
The Bite Test:
Gold is a relatively soft metal. Anything made with pure gold will be relatively soft and malleable. So, biting the pure gold item would leave a mark or a dent. This test is not highly recommended. But it’s easy, so you can do it.
In the past, this method was used to differentiate original gold coins from counterfeit coins. Now, more precise methods are available.
The Toothpaste Test:
How to check if gold is real with toothpaste? Well, here’s how:
- Apply white toothpaste onto your gold piece.
- Rub it onto the gold piece with a toothbrush for at least 30 seconds.
- Use cold water to rinse your gold piece and wash off the toothpaste completely.
- Leave no traces of toothpaste on your gold piece.
- Dry the gold piece with a clean and soft cloth.
- Real gold will retain its shiny yellow color.
- Fake gold will show discoloration or it will become dull.
- If your piece is gold-plated, its overlay will be stripped away.
- Use only white toothpaste. Never use colored or flavored ones.
- Don’t rub too hard. It can damage your gold piece.
Important Note: This test is not recommended by us. Toothpaste contains harsh substances like calcium carbonate and silica. These harsh substances can damage the original gold piece.
The Makeup Test:
Makeup can also be used to test if the gold is real. Using the makeup test is a unique way to check the authenticity of gold.
- Simply put on a liquid foundation on your skin.
- After it is dried, touch a piece of jewelry against your skin. And then run it lightly over your skin where the makeup is applied.
- If the jewelry leaves a black track on the makeup, you have real gold.
The Electronic Test:
With advanced technology, checking your gold’s authenticity has become easier than ever. You can try an electronic test to check the authenticity of your gold. An electronic gold tester can provide accurate results in seconds. You can also buy gold testers online. Electronic testers don’t use any harsh liquids or destructive methods.
The two main types of machines for testing gold are
- An Electronic Tester
- An XRF Spectrometer
Note: The XRF spectrometer is the fastest and most accurate.
An electronic test is the best way if you want quick results without damaging your gold piece.
The X-Ray Test:
An X-Ray test is like an electronic test. But it uses X-Rays through the item to charge its atoms to a higher level. After charged atoms are cooled down, they emit radiation. An XRF Spectrometer will analyze this radiation. And tell the authenticity of the gold item.
The radiation from gold is distinct from other metals. So, it becomes easy to check the authenticity of gold. This is the most precise and accurate test. It does not damage your items.
Professional Help / The Jeweler Test:
All the DIY tests can help you get a little bit of an idea of your gold’s authenticity. But these may not be the ultimate methods. Only a professional jeweler has the eye to tell if the gold is real or fake. You can take your jewelry to a reputable jeweler for checking. Professional jewelers have access to a wide range of technical testing methods. They also have years of experience in crafting and analyzing gold jewelry. They can spot the fake easily and efficiently.
Professional jewelers can check the purity of gold without damaging your items. You have a piece of heirloom jewelry with sentimental value. You should leave this responsibility to a professional.
How to Avoid Counterfeited Gold Jewelry?
You can avoid buying fake gold items by following these tips.
- Request a guarantee certificate and authenticity certificate
- Buy from a reputed and trustworthy seller.
- Look up the maker’s mark online.
- Compare the current market value of gold.
- Get an independent gold jewelry appraisal.
- Do a thorough research.
- Take professional help if needed.
Gold is a valuable resource and has been used as currency for centuries, but it is not a true metal. It’s made up of tiny particles of gold, and does not exist in nature in its pure form. It can be tested to see if it is real, but only a laboratory can verify that the gold is what was claimed.
Gold is not a guaranteed investment, and there is no sure way to predict the future value of gold. But, some people believe that the price of gold will continue to rise in the future. So, it may be worth investing in gold if you are comfortable with the risk.
Gold and silver are both valuable resources, but they have different properties. Gold is heavier than silver, so it is often used in coins and other objects. Silver is also valuable, but it is less dense than gold, so it is often used in jewelry and other objects.
Rose gold is an alloy made of copper and pure gold. The most common rose gold alloy is 18K. It is a combination of 75% pure gold and 25% copper.
White gold is a combination of pure gold with palladium, nickel, and copper. White gold is not as durable as rose gold.
You should buy gold coins following the current ongoing inflation issues worldwide. Maybe you can make some small investments every month by buying 24k gold coins.
Other than how to check if Gold is real with a lighter, you have 18 more methods to check your gold’s authenticity. Gold is a precious and expensive metal. Beware of the scammers and avoid buying fake gold items. You can always get professional help from a reputed jeweler. If you are looking to invest in gold, you should invest in a Swiss Made Minted 24k Gold Bar since it is more pure (99.99%)!