How to Tell Real Gold from Fake Gold?

How to Tell Real Gold from Fake Gold?

Gold has always been a valuable commodity, but with the rise in counterfeit goods, it's important to know how to distinguish between real gold and fake gold. Whether you're buying jewelry or investing in gold bullion, being able to tell the difference can save you from being duped. Here's how you can tell if your gold is real or fake.

Physical Characteristics of Real Gold vs Fake Gold

One of the first things to look for when identifying real gold is its color and luster. Real gold has a distinct, warm color and a shiny luster that is hard to replicate. Additionally, real gold is dense and heavy compared to other metals.

Physical Characteristics of Fake Gold

Fake gold is often made from a mixture of other metals, such as copper, zinc, or nickel, which can give it a different color and luster. It is also less dense and lighter than real gold, making it easier to distinguish by weight alone.

Using a Magnet

One simple way to test if your gold is real or fake gold is to use a magnet. Real gold is not magnetic, so if your gold is attracted to the magnet, it's likely fake.

Fake Gold Magnet Test

Scratch Test

Another common method to test gold is the scratch test. Real gold is very resistant to scratches, so if you can scratch the surface easily with a pin or a knife, it's likely fake.

Acid Test

The acid test is a more accurate way to test gold authenticity. By applying a small amount of nitric acid to the gold, you can determine if it's real based on the reaction. Real gold will not react to the acid, while fake gold will.

Gold Scratch Acid Test

Hallmarks and Stamps

When purchasing gold jewelry, it often bears a hallmark stamp, which identifies its purity and the manufacturer. This stamp is one of the simplest and quickest ways to determine the gold's purity.

The purity of gold is measured in "karats" or "millesimal fineness." Millesimal fineness is a system used to denote the purity of platinum, gold, and silver alloys, represented by parts per thousand of pure metal in the alloy. For instance, an alloy containing 75% gold is labeled as "750."

In essence, the fineness of the metal item (such as a bar, coin, or jewelry) indicates the weight of the fine metal it contains, relative to the total weight, including alloying base metals and any impurities. For example, silver coins often contain copper to make them a durable alloy. Historically, silver coins were composed of 90% silver and 10% copper by mass.

The Millesimal Fineness System recognizes certain standard purity numbers, including 333, 375, 417, 500, 583.3, 585, 625, 750, 834, 899, 900, 916, 958, 986, 990, 995, 999, 999.9, 999.99, and 999.999.

On the other hand, karats indicate the purity of gold, with higher karats representing purer gold. Common karat values include 8k, 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, and 24k. In some countries like Denmark and Greece, 8k is the minimum karat considered for gold purity.

Standard valid purity numbers under the karat system are 8k, 9k, 10k, 14k, 18k, 20k, 22k, and 24k. It's important to note that while hallmarking is a good indicator of gold purity, it's not foolproof, as anyone can engrave a hallmark. If the hallmark numbers don't match the standard values mentioned above, it could indicate fake gold.

Additionally, not all genuine old gold jewelry may bear a hallmark, as the original markings may have worn off over time. In such cases, it's advisable to have the gold checked by an authentic jeweler of gold dealer.


Gold Hallmarks

Professional Testing

If you're still unsure about the authenticity of your gold, it's best to seek the expertise of a professional gold dealer like Jewelers and gold dealers have the tools and knowledge to test gold accurately.


Non Destructive Testing Xrf


In conclusion, knowing how to tell real gold from fake gold is essential for anyone buying or selling gold. By understanding the physical characteristics of gold and using simple tests, you can ensure that you're getting the real deal.


  1. Is real gold always stamped with a hallmark?
    • No, while many pieces of real gold jewelry are stamped with a hallmark, not all are.
  2. Can fake gold look exactly like real gold?
    • Yes, some counterfeit gold can be very convincing, which is why it's important to use multiple testing methods.
  3. What is the most accurate way to test gold?
    • Using XRF (X-ray fluorescence)machines like the ones we have at 401Gold are the best way to check the purity of your gold, and then we use other machines to determine what's inside your gold item
  4. Is fake gold worth anything?
    • Generally the answer is no. While fake gold may have some value, it is significantly less valuable than real gold.
  5. Can gold-plated items pass as real gold?
    • Yes, gold-plated items can sometimes be mistaken for real gold, especially if they are not tested properly.
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