How can you tell the quality of a gold necklace?

Author: Mirabella

Nov. 28, 2023

Timepieces, Jewelry, Eyewear

When it comes to buying a gold chain, you want to be sure that it is the real deal. Fakes can look like the genuine article, but will not have the same value or durability. Here are some simple tips for telling whether your gold chain is real before you buy it.

What Does "Real" Gold Mean To You?

First, consider what you mean by "real" gold. That means deciding what kind of gold you are looking for in your chain, from the karat and weight to whether it's a solid gold alloy or gold plated.

Here's what you need to know.

Solid Gold

An important factor to consider is whether your gold chain is solid gold or gold plated. Solid gold chains are made entirely from a gold alloy and will be stamped with a purity mark.

Gold plated or gold filled chains, on the other hand, have a base metal like brass that has been covered in a thin layer of actual gold alloy. These chains may be stamped with "GP" for gold plated, or they may have no mark at all. If you're looking for solid gold, make sure to double-check the stamp before making your purchase. 

Karat

If your definition of real gold is that it is 24k pure gold, then you need to be aware that most jewelry pieces will not meet this criterion – and that 24k gold is more malleable, prone to damages, and ill-suited for daily wear. For everyday chains, you'll typically want 10K, 14K or 18K gold, meaning they include other metals alloyed with the gold.

Keep Reading: 10k Vs 14k Gold Chain: What You Need to Know

Weight

The weight of the chain is also a factor in determining if it is real gold. If you're looking for real gold, it should feel heavy and solid due to the density of the metal. Gold plated chains will typically be much lighter than solid gold ones.

What to Look for When Buying a Gold Chain

To make sure you get real gold when shopping for a chain, look for the following: 

  • Stamp of purity indicating karat
  • Weight that is solid and heavy
  • Verified inspection by an official jeweler such as Arizona Diamond Center. 

Antique pieces may not have any stamp at all, so you'll want to check with an expert jeweler to be sure of the authenticity.

At Arizona Diamond Center, we have a wide selection of high-quality gold chains that you can trust are genuine. Our team of experts will be happy to help guide you in your search for the perfect chain depending on your style and how you intend to wear it.

Keep Reading: How to Tell if a Chain is Real Silver

Visit us today and let us help you find the perfect chain!

Testing Gold Chain for Authenticity

When considering a gold chain, it's important to make sure that it is the real deal. Here are some ways you can test for authenticity:

Visual Inspection 

Start by examining the stamped markings on the chain. These markings may tell you what kind of gold it is, such as 14 or 18K. Chains made overseas may be stamped with the percentage of gold such as 417 for 10K or 585 for 14K gold.  If you are purchasing a chain necklace with a pendant, you can also inspect the pendant itself – the materials used there, including the metal and gemstones, can also tell you about the chain. For example, a low quality or fake gold chain is unlikely to be paired with a high karat pendant or a pendant with real, valuable gemstones.

Gold Tester 

Professional jewelers have tools called gold testers or gold acids which can measure the purity of a gold alloy, or tell the difference between gold and other metals. This is the best way to test for authenticity without damaging the item and is often a reliable way to ensure that your chain is real gold. 

Which Gold Chain is Right for You?

With these tips in mind, you can now feel confident shopping for a real gold chain. Whether you're looking for a simple gold necklace, or something more ornate and eye-catching, there is sure to be something that meets your needs.

When selecting a new gold chain, be sure to consider your lifestyle, habits, and budget before committing to a purchase! 

Lifestyle

Some chains may not be suitable for certain activities or environments. For example, if you lead an active lifestyle and need something that won't break easily, solid gold chains are a better option than gold plated ones. 

Also, think about how often you will wear your chain – if it's a piece you plan to show off every day, opt for something timeless and classic that won't go out of style and can withstand regular wear. A 24K chain is not recommended for daily wear, for example, so you should choose a gold alloy (between 10K and 18K) instead.

Budget

Gold chains come in a range of prices, so it's important to decide how much you are willing to spend before you start shopping. Gold plated chains tend to be more affordable, while solid gold pieces will naturally cost more and last longer with routine care.

Keep Reading: What is a Hollow Gold Chain, and Should You Buy One?

Real Gold Chains From Arizona Diamond Center

At Arizona Diamond Center, we have a wide selection of high-quality gold chains that you can trust are genuine. Our team of experts will be happy to help guide you in your search for the perfect chain.

Visit us today and let us help you find the best chain for you! 

 

How To Tell If Gold Is Real: 11 Easy Ways To Ensure You Have The Real Thing

Gold is the quintessential symbol of status, power, immortality and wealth, often restricted to royalty.

Accounts differ on when the first gold mines were dug and operated. Some say it all began in 3,100 BCE with the ancient Egyptians. Archaeological sites like the over-6,000-year-old mines of the Asosa region of Ethiopia and the 5,500-year-old Sakdrisi mine of Georgia put the systematic practice of gold mining back several thousands of years earlier. Some say that in South Africa there are mines that are even older.

The ancient Egyptians believed gold was the flesh of the sun god Ra. Gold is considered luxurious and precious because it is beautiful and easy to work. It does not tarnish, rust or dissolve (except by aqua regia, the name for nitrohydrochloric acid, which is used in one of the tests mentioned below). Gold is hard to extract: Barely 50 grams come out of a ton of ore. It is also one of the best electrical conductors, which is why it is used so heavily inside computers and other technological equipment.

WAYS TO TEST GOLD AUTHENTICITY

This article discusses several tests you can easily do at home to help you when you need to know how to tell if gold is real.

The Stamp Test

:

Look for Hallmarks

A piece of gold jewelry is often engraved with a hallmark, which is a stamp that identifies its content and/or manufacturer. Hallmarks usually appear in an inconspicuous place like the inside of a ring.

The standard purity scales are based upon karats and millesimal fineness. The hallmark test, also known as the magnifying glass test, is a good place to start when checking if your gold is real.

Hallmarks include:

  • Valid purity numbers under the Karat system (like 8k, 9k, 10k, 14k, 15k, 18k, 20k, 21k, 22k, 23k, and 24k)

  • Valid purity numbers under the Millesimal Fineness system (333, 375, 417, 583 or 585, 625, 750, 833, 875, 916, 958 and 999)

  • False purity numbers (anything other than the above)

  • Manufacturer (like ESPO for Esposito, etc.)

Hallmarks show the gold’s level of purity and manufacturer to lend greater credibility to a piece’s authenticity and to make it easier to identify and verify. Since anybody can engrave any hallmark they choose, this level of testing is not 100% foolproof

If the numbers say anything other than the ones mentioned above, then you have fake gold. For example, 800, 925, and 950 do not refer to gold, but to silver. Why would they be put 925 on gold? Because this often means the jewelry is gold plated with a sterling silver base.

Another thing to look for is whether or not the marks indicate that the value has either been measured in karats or in millesimal fineness. Any other numbers than those above would indicate that the gold is fake.

Not all real gold jewelry has hallmarks—for example, older pieces may have had original markings that have been worn off.

Look for Letter Markings

Any gold that is marked less than 10k (41.7% purity) is considered fake.

Anyone who is familiar with the different levels of quality will quickly recognize the following markings:

  • GP

  • GF

  • GE

  • GEP

  • HGP 

  • HEG

You will want to avoid the above designations if you’re looking for real gold. They all indicate gold plating. In the same order, they mean:

  • Gold Plated

  • Gold Filled

  • Gold Electroplated

  • Gold Electro Plated

  • Heavy Gold Plated

  • Heavy Gold Electroplated

These markings indicate that only a small percentage of gold was used to cover a piece that was made out of some other kind of metal in order to give it the appearance of gold.

To give you an idea of how the upper levels of purity stack up next to one another: 24k gold is 99.9% pure, while 18k gold is 75% pure. Absolutely 100% pure gold is unheard of, mainly because pure gold is very soft and wouldn’t make for a durable piece of jewelry. 

The Skin Test

Look for Bluish or Greenish Tint on Your Skin

This test is simple: It involves holding a piece of gold jewelry between your hands for a couple of minutes. The perspiration from your hands will either react with the metal and change the color of your skin or leave it unaffected. When real gold is in direct contact with your skin there is no discoloration. If the gold is fake it will cause your skin to turn black, blue, or green at the contact points.

One exception to this procedure occurs if you test gold on your skin while wearing a liquid foundation. When gold touches the makeup it will turn your skin black at the points of contact. Removing all makeup before testing makes this test more reliable.

Alternatively, makeup can also be used to test for gold authenticity. Put on a liquid foundation and add powder over it. Once the makeup has dried, press the piece of jewelry against your skin and then run it lightly over your skin where you have the makeup. If the jewelry leaves a black track on the makeup, you probably have real gold.

Gold is extremely nonreactive, so real gold jewelry will never discolor your skin. But using the makeup test is a unique way to also check if it’s real. 

If there are discolorations in gold jewelry it means you have an alloy where there are other metals mixed in.

The Size and Weight Test

This test works well on coins and bars. You can

  • Compare a piece of gold you want to test with one that is already known to be real

  • Use a set of calipers and a jeweler’s scale or use a Fisch Tester

Gold is denser than most other metals. If you have a piece that looks too large for its weight or feels too light for its size, then you probably have fake gold.

Bullion coins are actual coins made from precious metals, including gold, silver, palladium, or platinum. They serve as collectibles, investments, or as a hedge against inflation.

The Magnet Test

Hold a strong magnet next to a piece of gold and watch for a reaction. Gold is not magnetic, so there should not be any attraction to magnets. If there is, you most likely don’t have real gold.

However, some of the base metals that can be mixed with gold are also non-magnetic so you can get a false read. The test isn’t foolproof so it’s a good idea to do this in conjunction with another more accurate testing method. 

The Float Test

Just drop the piece into a container of water. Gold is dense. If it doesn’t float at all or hover over the bottom of the container, you could possibly have real gold.

The Ceramic Scratch Test

Take an unglazed ceramic plate or piece of tile and scrape a piece of gold across its surface. Real gold will leave a gold mark or trail. Other metals will leave a black trail.

The Water Test (a.k.a. The Density Test)

This is done by calculation. You need

  • A scale (to weigh the jewelry)

  • A container of water and

  • A way to measure the level in millimeters (to measure the water levels before and after the jewelry goes into the water)

Now do the calculation: subtract the “before” measurement from the “after” measurement. Then divide the weight of the jewelry by the difference in the water levels.

This gives you the density.

The standard density of real gold is 19.3 grams per milliliter (also written 19.3g/mL). Not a lot of other metals come very close to it. If your calculation gives this figure or something very close to it, you probably have real gold.

When you use density to distinguish gold's authenticity, you also need to keep in mind that there can be differences in density between different types of gold.

For example, the purer the gold, the heavier it will be--and white gold is heavier than yellow. Therefore, the density of gold between 14k and 22k will be anywhere between around 12.9 and 17.7 for yellow gold and anywhere between around 14 and 17.8g/mL for white gold.

The Acid Tests

Vinegar Test

This test simply requires that a few drops of vinegar be applied to the metal, hopefully in an inconspicuous place.

If the metal is real gold there will be no change. If the metal is fake gold it will change color.

The Nitric Acid Test

Gold is a noble metal which means its resistant to corrosion, oxidation and acid. To perform this test, rub your gold on a black stone to leave a visible mark. Then apply nitric acid to the mark.

The acid will dissolve any base metals that aren't real gold.

If the mark remains, apply nitrohydrochloric acid, also called aqua regia (75% nitric acid and 25% hydrochloric acid) to the mark. This mixture dissolves gold so, if the mark disappears, the gold is real. 

    The Machine Tests

    Electronic Tester (i.e Sigma Metalytics Machine)

    The Sigma Metalytics Precious Metal Verifier is calibrated for accuracy on a minute scale, enabling it to distinguish between metals in less than one second. While this equipment is good for measuring bullion and coins, Sigma Metalytics recommends the Kee Gold Tester for testing jewelry.

    This machine sends electromagnetic waves into the item, passing through surface materials like wrapping or plating to read the resistance of the underlying metal. Its meter display is set to show a specific range of resistance that is or is not consistent with the resistance of each metal the machine has been calibrated to detect.

    XRF Spectrometer

    This machine works by sending X-rays through the gold and exciting its atoms into a higher energy state.

    When the excited atoms return to normal they give off radiation. The machine monitors and analyzes this, using the radiation reading to identify the material. This method is fast and accurate. It is precise and far outperforms other methods while doing no damage to the items being tested.

    In fact, none of these methods causes chemical or mechanical damage, so they will not jeopardize the value or integrity of your piece.

    The Fail-Safe Test

    If you really want to know for sure how much gold is really in your gold, the most tried-and-true method of finding out is to take it to a reputable jeweler and have it tested there.

    Jewelers have a wide array of methods available to the public for authentication of gold content. Of course, nothing beats experience. But those who are trying to pass lesser metals off as real gold having become increasingly sophisticated in their “craft,” so even the jeweler will probably resort to machine verification to make sure.

    Most home tests can give you an idea of whether or not your gold is real. While they are all good at showing probability, none are 100% conclusive.

    The best way to know for sure if your gold is real is to have an experienced and reputable jeweler evaluate it for you.

    Please feel free to share this article with anyone you know who could benefit from the information and caveats it contains.

    How can you tell the quality of a gold necklace?

    How To Tell If Gold Is Real: 11 Easy Ways To Ensure You ...

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