How to Tell if a Necklace is Real Gold

A gold necklace is a great piece to have in your collection. However, as with all valuable things, there are lots of fake gold necklaces on sale in jewelry stores. So, here are some ways to tell if a necklace is real gold.

How Can You Test a Gold Necklace?

gold necklace

1. Observe the Physical Qualities

You can carefully observe the physical qualities of your necklace to see if they match with real gold. 

The first physical quality of gold is its color, which is a bright orange-yellow. However, jewelers can alter the color of gold by mixing it with other metals, producing white, yellow, and rose gold. However, no matter the metal you mix gold with, you’ll always observe the yellow tint in its appearance.

Secondly, gold is a chemically inert metal; therefore, it won’t tarnish or discolor. So, you can observe the appearance of your necklace with a magnifying glass. If you notice tarnishing or discoloration, your necklace is not real gold.

Finally, you can perform a quick “smell test” of your necklace. To do this, make your palms sweaty and vigorously rub the necklace between both palms, and gold will not give off any strange metallic smell like some other metals.

2. Check for Hallmarks

Some countries legally require jewelers to put hallmarks on real gold jewelry. These hallmarks are little stamps that give basic information about the jewelry. The hallmark contains information like the purity of gold, the manufacturer, and in some cases, the country of production.

Any gold necklace that doesn’t contain a hallmark is likely a fake. However, a hallmark might be absent if the jeweler made the necklace in a country that doesn’t require hallmarks. Also, if your necklace is an antique piece, it might not have a hallmark as the hallmark might have worn off.

Jewelers usually put hallmarks in hidden jewelry parts, so you might need a magnifying glass to find the hallmark. 

3. Check for Letter Marks

Many jewelry stores sell gold lookalikes, some containing a fraction of gold. Jewelers make these necklaces using various methods, such as gold platinggold vermeil, and gold filling. Jewelers must also legally state that these necklaces aren’t real gold items using letter marks.

Some standard letter marks you’ll find on gold lookalike necklaces include:

  • GP – Gold Plated
  • GF – Gold Filled
  • GE – Gold Electroplated
  • GEP – Gold Electro Plated
  • HGP – Heavy Gold Plated
  • HEG – Heavy Gold Electroplated

4. The Magnet Test

How your necklace responds to a magnet can help determine if it is a real gold necklace. A magnet shouldn’t pull real gold since gold isn’t magnetic. However, in the rare case that your gold jewelry contains a magnetic alloy, you might experience a reaction.

Neodymium magnets are the ideal kind to utilize for the magnet test. Neodymium magnets are among the strongest types of rare earth magnets. As strong as these magnets are, they are also very affordable.

Set your necklace down on a non-magnetic surface, such as wood or plastic, to do the magnet test. Move the magnet toward the necklace and watch for any reactions. If the necklace remains static, it’s probably a real gold necklace.

Ignore any reactions at the necklace clasp if it has any springs. Jewelers usually make the clasp springs from magnetic metals like iron. 

5. The White Vinegar Test

vinegar

Most metals don’t react well with white vinegar, a mixture of acetic acid and water. However, when white vinegar comes into contact with gold, it does not affect it.

For this test, you’ll need white vinegar and a glass container or liquid dropper. Place the gold in a glass with white vinegar and leave it for 15 minutes before rinsing. 

If you’d rather use a dropper to test a small portion, fill it with vinegar and place a drop on the part of the necklace. Again, leave it for 15 minutes. 

In both instances, vinegar shouldn’t change the color of the necklace. If you notice any color change, what you have is not a real gold necklace.

6. The Machine Test

The best way to tell if a necklace is real gold is by testing it with a machine. Machines such as an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) thermo testing machine are the best option for testing gold regularly.

XRF machines work by bombarding the necklace with high-energy gamma or X-rays in a process known as excitation. Then, the excited atoms will emit fluorescent X-rays, which the system will analyze to determine the chemical composition of the necklace. Therefore, an XRF machine will give you information on any alloys used in the necklace and the gold’s purity level.

7. Give it to a Jeweler

Some experienced jewelers have dealt with so much gold jewelry in their careers that they can tell real gold by looking at it. However, they won’t stop at a visual test of your necklace; they’ll give it a thorough test to find out if it’s real, along with its composition.

It’s always a great idea to allow the pros to test your jewelry for you as their results are more reliable.

Read More: How to Gold Plate Jewelry

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