Identifying “fake” or under-karated gold pieces has always been a challenge; somewhat like determining the true color of the infamous blue/black or gold/white dress depending on how you look at it. Even the best eyes can sometimes not detect a good fake. Heavy plating or stainless steel will often pass an initial gold test, and sellers are counting on the fact that many buyers will not have the time or capability to test the pieces further.
We continually work with customers to identify these pieces – in our blog we will share some of our experiences to help make you a better buyer.
The most superior and accurate technique is fire assay. Fire assay is the benchmark to which all other techniques are measured. ICP Spectrometers and x-ray fluorescence are two other ways to assay, however they are not nearly as accurate as fire assay.
If you do not have access to these items here are some tips on how to make a preliminary assessment of whether or not a piece contains gold. Again, these methods are not our most recommended however they are better than nothing.
Look for hallmark purity. In other words, check to see if there is a notation of karat inscribed somewhere on the surface of the piece. Keep in mind, pieces that are resized or reset may not have the same karats as they had in their original state. In addition stamplins may be false as in this example.
The hallmark on this piece is crooked and only at one end of the chain.
This piece was determined to be 62.7% copper.
2. The Magnet Test
Use a fairly strong magnet. If the piece is attracted to the magnet at all or if it actually sticks to the magnet, the piece is probably a fake.
This piece had a hallmark- labeled .750 which is 18 karat. We questioned this because the color was off.
The two hallmarks are next to each other which is not typical. In addition, the piece was slightly mgnetic and it was determined the piece was steel.
We hope this post was helpful. We invite you to follow our blog for more tips – next up The Density Test.