How To Tell If My Ring Is Real Gold

How do you tell if your ring is real gold? Of course, the most reliable way to confirm your gold jewelry is real gold is to visit a jeweler. However, if you want to skip the professionals and test your jewelry at home, the following options are available for fairly quick, painless at-home investigation:

  1. The Magnet Test. Real gold is not magnetic, so if your piece of gold jewelry sticks to—or is drawn by—a magnet odds are your item is below the 10kt minimum. However, this test is not all-inclusive; some non-gold fakes are intentionally made from non-metallic metals.
  2. The Density Test. The density of gold is about 19.3 grams/mL, which is considerably higher than most metals. One way to test your piece of gold jewelry is to weigh it, then submerge it in a graduated vial of water and note the variation in volume. Divide your weight per volume variation; anything close to 19.3 should indicate authentic gold.
  3. The PlateStreak Test. Obtain a piece of unglazed ceramic tile or disk, easily located at most hardware stores. Take your piece of gold jewelry, assuming it isn’t as delicate as earrings but instead a sturdy band or ring, and rub the “gold” against the ceramic surface. Pyrite, or “Fool’s Gold,” will leave a black streak as opposed to the gold streak left by “real” gold.
  4. The Nitric Acid Test. Due to the delicate and dangerous nature of working with nitric acid, it is recommended to have a jeweler perform this test on your items. However, if you are confident (and careful) and want to purchase this pricey liquid, you can explore this method. Gold is insoluble in Nitric Acid, but it will dissolve silver and base metals.  Nitric Acid is highly corrosive, so take caution when experimenting with this test!
  5. The Discoloration Test: More of an observation than an actual test, this involves examining your piece of gold jewelry for discoloration in high-friction areas. If the item is only gold plated, you will see areas where the gold has begun to wear-off from use. The absence of this does not, unfortunately, authenticate the gold as being “real gold” even without the discoloration present.
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