If you’re looking to make a bit of extra money, you’ve likely thought about selling your gold for cash. You might have a few gold items in your home that you never use and don’t bring you much joy, or you might have some old jewellery that is being left, forgotten, at the back of a drawer. Selling jewellery for cash has never been so easy or convenient, but before you set about organising your belongings, you’ll probably want an indication as to whether or not your possessions are authentic, or simply really convincing fakes.
There are a number of ways to test the value of your gold — some of which are straightforward enough to do from the comfort of your own home. Below, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can easily check if your gold is real. You should consider trying each and every technique mentioned, as these tests are most effective when done together. Multiple methods of testing will always yield the best results.
- Perform a visual inspection
Gold is a noble metal, otherwise known as an inert metal, which means that it is resistant to corrosion or oxidation in moist air. This is true even at high temperatures. For this reason, it can be fairly simple to tell if a piece of gold jewellery is fake or authentic by performing a visual inspection.
Look carefully for noticeable discolouration, paying particular attention to edges and clasps. If the gold appears to be fading, wearing off, or showing a different colour metal beneath the surface, then your item of gold is gold plated, rather than pure gold.
- The float or sink test
Did you know gold is a particularly dense metal? In fact, the density of gold is 19.3 times greater than water. This means you can perform a fairly simple test to determine whether your gold is the real deal. Simply grab a glass of water and drop your gold inside. Real gold will always sink to the bottom of the glass, while fake gold will float.
- Does your gold tarnish following exposure to water?
As mentioned, gold is an inert metal. In fact, it is the most non-reactive of all metals. If your gold bracelet has become tarnished after one too many showers, then you can be sure it isn’t truly gold. As long as you aren’t too invested in your jewellery or gold coins, consider leaving them in a glass of water overnight as a test. You can rest assured that real gold will not be affected. You can also do a similar test by soaking your item in water. If it oxidises or turns a greyish colour, you know you have a fake on your hands.
- The pin tests
There are two simple tests you can perform using a pin, or a sewing needle, which will be a great indicator of real gold. The first one involves scratching the piece of gold (preferably in a place that cannot be easily detected, if you want to use the jewellery in the future) with a needle. If you manage to scratch or shave off some of the gold, you know what you have got is simply gold plating.
You can also try piercing your gold jewellery with a pin. Despite the fact that gold is resistant in many ways, it is also a very soft metal, which you can use as a tell-tale sign. Using a pin, exert enough pressure to pierce your piece of gold. If the pin breaks or bends, you will then know that the gold is not pure. Gold simply isn’t hard enough to break a harder metal item.
- The magnet test
Another interesting property of gold is that pure gold is not magnetic. So, to test if your earrings are authentic, purchase a strong magnet and hover it close to your jewellery. If your gold is attracted to the magnet, you know what lies underneath is a magnetic metal, such as iron or nickel.
Importantly, you should know this isn’t a fool-proof test, so don’t use this as your only indicator. After all, the gold plating might have been combined with another non-magnetic metal. The only way to know for sure is to ask someone in the know.
- The skin test
This is a really simple way of determining whether or not a gold ring is worth sending to be valued. If you wear your ring for a long stretch of time and you remove it, do you notice any discolouration? If your finger has turned a strange shade of green, this is a clear sign that your ring isn’t true gold. In fact, what has happened is that the acid in your skin has mixed with the metal in the jewellery, causing it to corrode, producing a strange (but unharmful) hue.
Remember: to get a truly accurate representation of the value of your gold, you should get in contact with a professional. The most trusted sites online will even provide free, fully insured postage, calculate your scrap gold price per gram and a price match guarantee, which means your valuables (whether real gold or not) are in safe, reliable hands.