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How Do You Know If Gold Jewelry is Real?

How Do You Know If Gold Jewelry is Real?

Accounts vary regarding when gold mining began in earnest; some experts place its origin at 3,100 BCE with Ancient Egyptians, while archeological evidence from the Asosa region of Ethiopia (6,000 years) and Sakdrisi mine of Georgia (5 500 years) establish the systematic practice several millennia earlier. Some also claim there are even older mines located elsewhere, like South Africa, which may help answer the question of how do you know if gold jewelry is real. covers various tests you can efficiently perform at home to assist when trying to determine the authenticity of real gold jewelry when trying out specific tests to help identify real versus fake.

THE STAMP TEST: How Do You Know If Gold Jewelry is Real?


Gold jewelry typically bears a hallmark, an identification stamp for its content and manufacturer. Hallmarks usually appear discreetly, such as inside of rings.

Standard purity scales of gold use karats and millesimal fineness to assess its purity; hallmark or magnifying glass tests provide a valuable way of checking that your gold is real. 

Hallmarks typically include:

  • Valid purity numbers under the Karat system (8k, 9k, 10k, 14k 15k 18k 21k 23k and 24k)
  • Valid purity numbers under the Millesimal Fineness system include 333, 375, 417, 583 or 585, 625 and 833
  • whereas any number other than these three represents false purity levels

Hallmarks display gold's purity level and manufacturer, providing more excellent evidence for authenticity while simplifying identification and verification. However, as anyone could engrave any hallmark they wish onto any piece, this level of testing can only sometimes provide 100% certainty.

You can spot fake gold based on numbers that don't match those listed above, like 800, 925, and 950, which don't signify gold but rather silver. Why would these figures appear on jewelry that claims it contains real gold plating with sterling silver base material? 925 typically denotes this scenario.

Look out for any signs that the value has been measured in either karats or millesimal fineness units; any numbers other than these could indicate fake gold.

Not all authentic gold jewelry has hallmarks; for instance, older pieces may have had original markings that have since faded over time.


How do you know if gold jewelry is real? Any gold marked less than 10k (41.7% purity) is considered fake.

Anyone 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 to get real gold. They all indicate gold plating. In the same order, they mean:

  • Gold Plated
  • Gold Filled
  • Gold Electroplated
  • Gold Electroplated
  • Heavy Gold Plated
  • Heavy Gold Electroplated

These markings indicate that only a minimal percentage of gold was used to give an object made out of another kind of metal the appearance of being composed entirely of gold. So finally, clear the question about how do you know if gold jewelry is real and give you an idea, 24k gold is 99.9% pure, while 18k is 75%. 100% purity would likely not make for durable jewelry pieces due to being very soft.



This simple test involves holding a piece of gold jewelry between both hands for several minutes until your sweat reacts with it and changes its color or doesn't. Real gold won't discolor directly upon contact; fake versions could cause your skin to change colors by reacting with them instantly, and discoloration may occur at specific contact points if the fake metal touches skin directly, causing black, blue, or green discolorations at those locations.

One exception to this procedure occurs if testing gold on the skin while wearing a liquid foundation since touching gold will turn those points of contact black when exposed to your makeup. Therefore, taking steps such as removing all makeup before testing can make this test more accurate and reliable.

Makeup can also help determine the authenticity of gold. Apply liquid foundation, then layer on powder. When your makeup has set, press your piece of jewelry against your skin where there is makeup application; once dried, lightly rub over where there was the application of makeup until a black mark appears on either of those areas; this would indicate you likely possess real gold!

Gold jewelry should never discolor your skin; therefore, a makeup test is an easy and efficient way to verify its authenticity. If discoloration spots are present, this might indicate it contains another metal alloyed with gold instead.


This test works exceptionally well when applied to coins or bars made of gold. Compare what you want to test against an object that contains real gold, such as an example from another dealer or your collection.

Use calipers and jeweler's scale or the Fisch Tester to check for fake gold pieces that seem over-proportioned in weight or volume compared to their actual sizes; such pieces could indicate fake metal. If something looks large for its weight or feels light for its size, or vice versa, it's probably false gold! So, the size and weight test is the best and most straightforward answer to this question: how do you know if gold jewelry is real?

The Magnet Test: How Do You Know If Gold Jewelry is Real?

Gold is not magnetic metal. How do you know if gold jewelry is real? When you approach an object made with it using a magnet, you should not experience any attraction if its purity level is high enough - however, this doesn't always indicate pure gold - jewelry often contains small amounts of sterling silver, which also is nonmagnetic; thus if any attraction occurs then your object could contain plating of some sort or contain iron and nickel content that makes up part of its makeup.

Read More:  How to tell a real diamond from a fake?

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