As a first time business owner of a pawn shop, and having spent a great majority of my earlier years hanging around my dads pawn shop, I’ve gotten to learn a few tricks of the trade when it comes to buying gold from the general public.
Pretty much from a young age I was taught how to evaluate gold jewellery by my father. One of the first tell tale signs that your gold isn’t real is color. If there is any fading, smearing, or bubbling anywhere on the piece of jewellery chances are its G.P. (gold plated). The only time you will see any sort of fading in gold is if its white gold. White gold has been made with different alloys like silver and palladium to produce the white appearance. White gold isn’t naturally occurring, and so over time as the owner wears his/her gold the piece will fade and have a light yellow hue added to the color.
I never trust stamps, I’ve had my fair share of fake gold stamped jewellery come through my shop; 10kt, 14kt, 18kt, I’ve even seen 24kt gold plated jewellery. People will automatically assume that because its stamped that it must be real. That isn’t always the case as many large companies that produce these pieces also produce Gold Plated pieces as well and will stamp them with the markings 10kt,14kt,18kt, etc. Most often they will add GP or GF (Gold Filled) somewhere next to the karat stamp, sometimes they don’t.
The next question you might be asking is, how do I know if my piece is actually real then? Personally I can pretty much tell if a piece of gold is real almost from a glance. But, not everyone has the expertise I have, or really wants to have that expertise. The main way to test for real gold is an acid scratch test. Don’t worry, it won’t damage your piece visibly. I order nitric acid from a reputable dealer, I scratch the piece of gold on a graphite plate and poor a small drop onto the gold and if it disappears its not real gold. If the gold stays on the graphite plate with the acid over top of it, its real gold. The nitric acid we use comes ready to test for 10kt, 14kt, 18kt, 22kt. A similar solution is used to test silver, but that’s for another post.
Since most people don’t have nitric acid on hand, there’s a few other ways you can test at home to find out if your gold is real or not. Obviously the first thing to do is look for hallmarks or stamps followed by GP or GF. If they have those markings, its not real. The next thing to try is a magnet. If its magnetized, its not real, if its not, your chances of having real gold are much higher. The last thing I would try at home would be vinegar. Poor a small amount of vinegar on to your gold item, if it changes color, fades, or bubbles and then changes color, its not real. Real gold will not fade or change color when vinegar is applied.
And if you’re still not sure if your item is real or not, you can always stop by my shop and I’ll gladly help you figure out if your item is real or not…