Our guide to recognizing gold
How to recognize gold?
When you receive a piece of jewelry as a gift, it’s natural to wonder if it’s genuine. Similarly, if you’ve inherited some old jewelry, you’re probably wondering whether it’s gold or not. There’s sometimes a fine line between a simple piece of costume jewelry and a high-quality gem! It can be hard to tell the difference with the naked eye. In this article, we’ll explain exactly how to recognize gold.
What is real gold?
Before learning how to recognize gold, it’s essential to understand that the majority of gold jewelry is not made from 100% pure gold. They are often made from alloys to enhance their strength and facilitate their shaping. For example, 18-carat gold consists of 75% real gold mixed with 25% other metals. 14-carat gold contains 58.5% pure gold, while 10-carat gold contains only 41.7%. When considering a gold purchase, make sure you know its purity before finalizing your purchase. Visit origins of gold are varied and precious metal alloys common.
Recognizing gold by the hallmark
How to identify gold and quality of gold is essential. Hallmarks guarantee the authenticity and content of your jewelry made from this precious metal. Since the end of the 18th century, jewelers have been required to affix two types of hallmarks to their work.
How to recognize gold using hallmarks to confirm the presence of gold?
- The master hallmark: this distinctive mark provides information about the jewel’s creator or goldsmith. It can be diamond-shaped or oval.
- The title hallmark: this details the gold content of the jewel, expressed in carats, for pieces weighing more than 3 grams.
The main title hallmarks are :
- Seahorse: symbolizes 100% pure gold, i.e. 24 carats. However, it is often considered too soft for jewelry.
- The eagle’s head or owl: these represent 18-carat gold jewelry, composed of 75% pure gold and 25% other metals such as silver and copper.
- The scallop shell: signifies a 14-carat gold object, with 58.5% of its composition in pure gold.
- The three-leaf clover: indicates a 9-carat gold content, i.e. 37.5% pure gold.
Hallmarks are therefore generally regarded as “guarantees” of a jewel’s authenticity. However, with time and wear, they can fade or even disappear. What’s more, it’s always possible to come across an imitation or counterfeit.
Recognizing gold by its color
Gold is naturally yellow. However, depending on the alloys used, it can take on other hues, such as white-gray or pink. How can you recognize gold by its color? Here are the keys:
- bright yellow gold is composed of 75% pure gold, 12.5% silver and 12.5% copper;
- white gold is an alloy of pure gold, silver and palladium, often plated with a thin layer of rhodium to enhance its brilliance;
- red gold contains 75% pure gold and 25% copper;
- pink gold is a mixture of 75% gold, 10% silver and 15% copper;
- green gold is obtained from 75% pure gold and 25% silver.
Other techniques for identifying gold
To guarantee the true quality of a piece of jewelry, it is essential to familiarize yourself with other methods of authentication. If you are considering buying or selling gold jewelry, it is crucial not to be misled. It’s also worth noting that the buying and selling of gold jewelry is governed by specific laws.
Additional techniques for knowing how to recognize gold include:
- Test with a magnet: hold a magnet close to your gold jewelry. If the jewel is attracted to the magnet, it is not solid gold. However, the absence of magnetic attraction does not completely eliminate the possibility that it is gold-plated, as some non-ferrous metals such as copper or brass can be plated with a thin layer of gold.
- Rub with a jewelry cloth: rub your jewelry with a jewelry cleaning cloth. If the gold fades, you are dealing with a piece of jewelry that is not solid gold.
- Do the nitric acid test: place your jewel in a container and add a few drops of nitric acid. Real gold does not react with this acid. If a green or white reaction occurs, your jewel is gold-plated.
- Use a ceramic object: rub your jewel against a white ceramic plate. If a black mark appears, your jewel is not gold-plated.
- Use an electronic tester: although this test requires investment in specialized equipment, it is one of the most accurate methods. It works by passing an electric current through the jewel. The device will then give you an indication of the caratage of the gold, ranging from 9 to 24 carats.
Ask for a professional gold appraisal
Our experts know how to recognize gold! If, after having tried all these techniques, you are still unsure, we recommend that you consult a specialist at one of our LMP agencies. Thanks to our know-how and experience, we can authenticate gold. At Les Métaux Précieux, we offer you a free, no-obligation appraisal of your gold. Our advisors can search for and identify any hallmarks and determine the percentage of gold in your coins and jewelry.
As part of our gold redemptionWith our gold buyback service, we adapt to the real time price of gold to give you the fairest possible price. You can even find out if a coin is rare ! For thebuying and selling goldOur expertise extends to coins, bullion and other precious metals.