Gold, Knowledge

How to Identify Fake Gold and Real Gold?

When you step out of our home to buy gold, we can find jewelers selling gold jewelry at every corner of the street. In addition to this, there are numerous online shops as well that claim to sell pure gold. Therefore, it is very easy for customers to get duped into buying fake gold in the name of real gold. So how can buyers protect themselves from getting ripped off of their money by buying fake gold? Here are 10 convenient ways to test the quality of gold and spot fake gold. 

Identify Fake Gold: The Hallmark Test

The Hallmark test is the most reliable test to check the quality of gold. All the jewelry pieces have hallmarks engraved on them which testify that the gold is real and passed the purity test. There are several types of hallmarks based on the different systems of purity. Some of them are given below.

  • Karat-System Purity Numbers include 8K, 9K, 10K, 14K, 15K, 18K, 20K, 21K, 22K, 23K, and 24K (pure gold)
  • Millesimal Fineness System Purity Numbers include 333, 375, 417, 583, 585, 625, 750, 833, 875, 916, 958, 999
  • Manufacturer’s Names

Anything mentioned on the gold jewelry in the name of Hallmark, other than the numbers given above, indicates fake gold. 

The Magnet Test

All metals are magnetic except gold. So, to test the quality of your gold, just bring the piece of gold near a very strong magnet. If the piece gets attracted to the magnet, it means that there are other metals present and the gold is not real. In addition to this, if you see your gold item changing color over time with constant use, it clearly states that the gold is fake. 

The Floating Test: Identify Fake Gold

Gold is a heavy metal and therefore, sinks when dropped in water. The floating test is very simple. All you have to do is take your gold items and drop them in the bucket of water. If they sink or float close to the bottom of the bucket, the gold is real. If your gold items float on the surface of the water, it is fake gold. 

The Nitric Acid Test

Pure gold doesn’t react with nitric acid. However, other alloys like zinc, copper, brass, and sterling silver react with nitric acid to create different types of by-products. To perform the nitric test to test the authenticity of your gold, you should start by wearing gloves and placing yourself in a well-ventilated room. Scratch the surface of your gold object slightly and pour a drop of nitric acid on the surface with the help of a dropper. Do not handle the acid with your bare hands. If the gold surface turns green, it means that your gold is real. But if a milky substance emerges from the surface, it turns out that the item is made up of sterling silver. 

Fake Gold

The Vinegar Test

The vinegar test involves the use of a popular kitchen ingredient that is available in almost every household. Pour a few drops of vinegar on your test item. If the color of the item changes, it means that the item is not made up of true gold. However, if the color remains the same, it concludes the existence of real gold. 

The Skin Test: Identify Fake Gold

The skin test is a simple test that involves holding the piece of gold in your sweaty hands for two or three minutes and observing bluish or greenish marks on your hands. If you see such marks on your palms, this is indicative of fake gold. It is because real gold is extremely inert and doesn’t react with anything. Unlike gold, other metals which are usually used to make fake gold jewelry, react with sweat in your hands to leave blue-green marks. 

The Letter Mark Test

Sometimes, there are letter-based markings present on gold items. Refrain from buying gold items having the following markings on them. 

  • GP (Gold Plated)
  • GF (Gold Filled)
  • GE (Gold Electroplated)
  • GEP (Gold Electro-Plated)
  • HGP (Heavy Gold Plated)
  • HEG (Heavy Gold Electroplated)

Such letter-marking on the gold pieces means that the piece has a cover of a small quantity of gold which is done to make an item made out of other metal look like gold. 

The Density Test: Identify Fake Gold

To test the quality of gold with the density test, you will need a gram scale and a container or tumbler with volume markings in milliliters on it. Start testing the gold quality by weighing the object and noting its weight in grams. Secondly, fill the container with water till halfway and record the volume in milliliters. Put the gold object in the water slowly so that the water doesn’t flow out of the container. Record the new volume of the container filled with water. Subtract the initial volume from the final volume. Then divide the weight of the gold object with the resulting volume. If the result comes out to be anywhere near 19.3 grams per milliliter, which is the value of density of gold, your gold is real. 

The Ceramic Tile Test

You can test the gold quality by scratching it against a ceramic tile: Buy an untinted and unglazed ceramic tile from the market. Rub your gold jewelry against the tile and see if it leaves a golden streak. If it does, this indicates that the gold is real. But if you spot a black-colored scratch on the ceramic tile, it means that the gold in your hands is fake. 

The Smell Test: Identify Fake Gold

This test may not be as reliable to test the quality of gold as other tests in this list. However, the smell test is the quickest method to test the realness of gold and doesn’t affect your gold object to any extent. To perform this test, you should have sweaty palms because when sweat, having multiple electrolytes, interacts with metal, it gives off a pungent smell. Take the gold objects that you want to test in your hands and rub them against each other with gold in between. Bring your hands close to your nose and notice the smell. If your hands give off a coin-like odor, the gold is fake. 


Though these are easy ways to identify real gold and fake gold, you can not be completely sure if the gold in your hands is pure or not. To avoid this confusion, it is always better to buy gold from retailers who have been in the business for a long time and are well-known. Also, if you are buying gold for the sake of investments, you should consider buying digital gold from platforms like OroPocket which guarantees the quality of gold and also ensures full protection of your gold assets in physical vaults.