How to Tell if Gold is Real?

Gold has captivated humanity for centuries, being a symbol of wealth, beauty, and prestige. Whether you’re a jewelry enthusiast, a collector, or someone looking to to buy or sell gold, being able to identify real gold is essential. In this article, we will explore various methods and techniques to help you determine the authenticity of gold, ensuring that you make informed decisions when dealing with this precious metal.

Visual Inspection:

The first step in identifying real gold involves a visual examination. Keep in mind that some methods may require professional expertise or specialized tools, but visual inspection can offer initial clues.

a. Color: Genuine gold maintains a consistent color throughout, regardless of its shape or size. It has a distinct, rich yellow hue. Beware of gold that appears overly bright or brassy, as it may indicate a lower gold content or even a counterfeit material.

b. Hallmarks and Stamps: Look for hallmarks or stamps on the gold item, which indicate the purity of the gold. Common purity stamps include 24K (pure gold), 18K, 14K, and 10K, among others. However, keep in mind that counterfeit items can bear fake stamps, so further testing is necessary. Most fake stamps are "too perfect" and attract viewer's attention, where real stamps are possible to find and read, but they are not made to attract all the attention.

c. Weight: Gold is a dense metal, so real gold jewelry should feel heavier than similarly sized items made of other materials. Use a sensitive scale to compare the weight of the gold item to its expected weight according to its size and purity.

Magnet Test:

Gold is not magnetic, so this simple test can help you identify if the item contains other metals or is entirely counterfeit.

Hold a strong magnet close to the gold item and observe its behavior. If the gold is genuinely pure, it should not be attracted to the magnet. However, if it shows any magnetic properties, it likely contains a significant amount of iron or other magnetic metals, indicating a fake or gold-plated item.

Acid Testing:

Acid testing is a widely used method to determine the purity of gold. It involves applying specific acid solutions to the gold item and observing the reaction. Please note that acid testing requires caution and should ideally be performed by professionals.

a. Purchase an acid testing kit: Obtain an acid testing kit specifically designed for gold testing. These kits typically include a series of testing acids with varying strengths, along with a testing stone or a set of test needles.

b. Scratch the item on the testing stone: Use a testing needle or a piece of the gold item to create a small scratch on the designated testing stone.

c. Apply the acid: Apply a drop of the appropriate testing acid to the scratch made on the stone. Start with the lowest strength acid and work your way up if necessary. Observe the reaction carefully.

d. Interpret the results: Real gold will not react to the acid, remaining unchanged. However, if the gold item is impure or gold-plated, it will react by discoloring or dissolving. Refer to the acid testing kit instructions for a detailed guide on interpreting the results.

Density Test:

The density of gold is unique, and this characteristic can help differentiate real gold from counterfeits.

a. Weigh the gold item: Use a precise scale to measure the weight of the gold item.

b. Fill a container with water: Choose a container that can hold water without overflowing.

c. Submerge the gold item: Carefully lower the gold item into the water, ensuring it is fully submerged.

d. Measure the water displacement: Note the increase in water level caused by the submerged gold item.

e. Calculate the density: Divide the weight of the gold item by the volume of water it displaced. Real gold should have a density of approximately 19.3 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm³).

Professional Appraiser:

All the methods above require some expertise and experience and some test wont give you very accurate results. 

At Gold to Cash, we have experience and all the right tools to test gold and other precious metals with 100% accuracy. Gold is too valuable to make mistakes, therefore it might be best to trust the professionals and leave doubt behind. 

Request a Free Appraisal Kit from Gold to Cash


Accurately determining the authenticity of gold is crucial to ensure you’re making informed decisions when buying, selling, or investing in this precious metal. While visual inspection, magnet testing, acid testing, and density testing are valuable methods, it’s essential to consult experts or professionals for reliable and conclusive results. By combining various assessment techniques, you can develop a well-rounded understanding of gold’s authenticity, helping you make confident choices in your gold-related endeavors.