How to Tell if Gold Is Real

Gold is a valuable metal, so it is often imitated in fake jewelry and metal blends. By most international standards, anything consisting of less than 41.7%, or 10 karats, of gold is considered to be fake. If you’re wondering whether your gold is real, the most reliable test is to take it to a certified jeweler. If you aren’t ready to do that yet, you can form an opinion by inspecting the gold and testing its basic properties. You could also try doing a density test or nitric acid test for more accuracy. Go through several tests and, if they all come out well, you can rest assured knowing that your item is the real deal.

EditDoing a Visual Inspection
Look for an official number marking on the gold. The marking, or hallmark, tells you what percentage of gold an item consists of. The hallmark is often printed on jewelry clasps or the inner bands of rings. It is usually visible on the surface of coins and bullion. The stamp is a number from 1 to 999 or 0K to 24K depending on what kind of grading system was used.[1]
Use a magnifying glass to help you identify the hallmark. It can be tough to make out by eye, especially on smaller pieces of gold such as rings.

Older pieces of jewelry may not have visible hallmarks. Sometimes the hallmark wears off over time, while in other cases the jewelry never got a stamp. Hallmarking became common in the 1950s in some areas, but in India for instance, it only became mandatory in the year 2000.[2]

Use the number marking to determine how much gold is in your piece. Most coins and jewelry are not pure gold, so they have other metals mixed in. There are 2 different scales used to indicate this through the hallmark. The number rating system used in Europe runs from 1 to 999 with 999 meaning pure gold. The U.S. uses a scale from 0 to 24K, where 24K is pure gold.[3]
The number rating system is easier to read than the karat rating system. For example, a rating of 375 means your item consists of 37.5% gold.

What number means gold depends on the country you are in. In the U.S., for example, anything 9K and under is not considered to be gold, even though a 9K bracelet consists of 37.5% gold.

Counterfeit pieces may have markings making them look authentic, so don’t go solely on the hallmark unless you’re certain you are holding gold.

Check for a letter marking indicating that the gold isn’t pure. Some of the common letters you may see are GP, GF, and GEP. These letters indicate that your gold piece is plated, which means the maker put a thin layer of gold over another metal, such as copper or silver. Your item has some gold in it, but it isn’t considered to be real gold.[4]
GP stands for gold plated, GF means gold filled, and GEP means gold electroplate.

The markings vary a little depending on where the gold is from. For instance, gold from India contains a small triangle symbol indicating the government council responsible for the rating system. It then has a number rating and a letter code, such as K, for the jeweler.

Find any noticeable discolorations where the gold has worn away. Gold is pretty soft for a metal, so plated gold often rubs away over time. The best places to check are around the edges of jewelry and coins. These spots often rub up against your skin and clothing throughout the day. If you see a different metal underneath the gold, you know your item is plated and not considered real gold.[5]
For example, a silver coloring might indicate silver or titanium. A red coloring could mean copper or brass.

Note any discolorations on your skin from wearing or holding the gold. Pure gold doesn’t react with sweat or oil from your skin, so if you see black or green marks, they are from other metals. Silver leaves behind black marks and copper leaves behind green marks. If you see a lot of these marks on your skin, your gold may be less pure than you expect.[6]
Keep in mind that most gold items are blends of gold and other metals. Even something like a 14K piece of jewelry, 58.3% gold, can leave these marks. Use other tests as well to ensure your gold is authentic.

EditTesting Magnetism and Other Basic Properties
Drop gold into a jug of water to see if it sinks. Get container big enough to hold both the water and the gold you wish to test. The water temperature you use doesn’t really matter, so lukewarm water is fine. Real gold is a dense metal, so it falls directly to the bottom of the jug. Imitation gold is much lighter and floats.[7]
Real gold also doesn’t rust or tarnish when wet, so if you see a discoloration, you probably have plated gold.

Hold a strong magnet up to see if the gold sticks to it. For this test, you need a strong magnet capable of pulling even metal blends. Move the magnet over the gold and observe how it reacts. Gold isn’t magnetic, so don’t be fooled by anything that sticks. If the magnet pulls the gold toward it, your item is either impure or a fake.[8]
Regular kitchen magnets won’t do. Buy a powerful neodymium magnet from a home improvement store.

The magnet test isn’t foolproof, since counterfeit gold can be made with non-magnetic metal like stainless steel. Also, some genuine gold items are made with magnetic metals such as iron.

Rub the gold on a unglazed ceramic to see if it leaves a streak. Make sure you’re using an unglazed piece of ceramic since anything with a glaze could affect the test results. Drag your item across the plate until you see some fragments coming off the gold. If you see a black streak, that means your gold is not real. A gold streak usually indicates authentic gold.[9]
Try getting an unglazed ceramic tile or a plate online or from your local home improvement store.

This test scratches the gold a little bit but doesn’t typically leave much noticeable damage. It is much safer than other tests involving scratches or acid.

Another way to do this is by spreading some cosmetic foundation on your skin and dragging the gold across it after it dries. Fake gold usually reacts with the foundation, leaving a green or black streak in it.

EditPerforming a Density Test
Weigh your piece of gold on a scale. If you have a decent kitchen scale, place the gold on it. Otherwise, jewelers and appraisers often can do it for you for free. Call around to different jewelry or appraisal stores to see which ones offer this service. Make sure you get the weight in grams rather than ounces.[10]
You need the weight in grams to use in a calculation later. If the weight is in ounces, you won’t get an accurate result.

Fill a graduated cylinder halfway full with water. Choose a cylinder that is big enough to hold the gold. It needs to have measurement markings in milliliters (mL) or cubic centimeters (cc). If you don’t have a regular graduated cylinder, you could try using a kitchen measuring cup.[11]
Vials with frequent millimeter markings on the side are useful for getting a more accurate measurement during the test.

The amount of water you use doesn’t matter that much as long as you leave plenty of space for the gold. If you fill the vial to the top, dropping the gold into it causes the water to spill.

Read the starting water level in the cylinder. Look at the markings on the cylinder, then record the water level. This measurement is very important for the test, so write it down. Make sure you have the vial on a flat, level surface in order to get as accurate a reading as possible.[12]
Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if your vial is marked in milliliters or cubic centimeters. They are the same measurement, so either unit can be used in the test.

Drop the gold into the vial and record the new water level. Gently lower the gold into the cylinder to avoid losing any of the water. Let go of it right above the water to prevent splashing or getting your fingers wet. Then, read the markings again to get the second measurement.[13]
Write the second measurement down on a piece of paper. Note that this is the second measurement, not the initial one.

Subtract the measurements to find the difference in the water level. Perform a simple calculation to figure out how much water the gold displaced. Subtract the initial measurement, the smaller number, from the final measurement. This gives you an answer in milliliters or cubic centimeters, depending on what measurement your vial lists.[14]
For example, if you started with of water that rose to , that leaves a difference.

Divide the gold’s weight by the difference in the water level. The density of the gold equals its mass divided by its volume. After calculating the density, compare the result to the standard density of gold, which is 19.3 g/mL. If your number is way off, chances are you have a fake. Keep in mind, though, that some combinations of metals in fake gold can have a density similar to real gold.[15]
For instance, you have a gold item that weighs and displaces of water. Divide 38 by 2 to get 19 g/mL, which is very close to the density of gold.

The standard density differs a little depending on the type of gold you have. For 14k yellow gold, it’s about 12.9 to 13.6 g/mL. For 14K white gold, it’s around 14 g/mL.

A piece of 18K yellow gold has an average density from 15.2 to 15.9 g/mL. A piece of 18K white gold has a density from 14.7 to 16.9 g/mL.

Any 22K piece of gold has a density around 17.7 to 17.8 g/mL.

EditUsing a Nitric Acid Test
Purchase gold-testing kit to get the acid you need for the test. Testing kits include various bottles of nitric acid for different types of gold. Some tests also include a flat rock called a touchstone you can use to scratch off some of the gold on your item. You may also see needles with samples of yellow and white gold to use as a comparison to your item.[16]
Testing kits are available online. Also, check with local jewelry stores. Most jewelers use this test for its accuracy.

Create a small scratch on the gold using a sharp tool. Choose an inconspicuous location on the jewelry to make the scratch, such as underneath a clasp or an inner band. Then, use a sharp tool such as a jewelry engraver to dig into the gold. Scratch until you get underneath the top layer of gold. Expose a fresh layer of gold or any other metal underneath it.[17]
Nitric acid tests require you to scratch your piece of gold. If the gold has personal value to you or you plan on keeping it, take it to a professional jeweler instead of doing the test yourself.

Add a drop of nitric acid to the scratch. Put on latex gloves and work in a well-ventilated room to avoid any issues with the dangerous acid. When you’re ready, look for the bottle of acid labeled for 18K gold. After setting the gold in a stainless steel container, place a drop of the acid directly on the scratch you made, then watch for it to turn a shade of green. If it turns green, you know right away your gold is fake.[18]
Regular gold does not react to the acid, so your item might be gold plated or a low-purity blend of metals.

A milk-colored reaction usually indicates gold-plated sterling silver. If the acid turns gold, you have gold-plated brass.

Scratch the gold on a touchstone to test its purity. If you think you might have real gold, rub it along the touchstone to create a streak of gold flakes. Add a drop of 12K, 14K, 18K, and 22K nitric acid to different parts of the streak. Check back after 20 to 40 seconds. Find the spot where the acid doesn’t dissolve the gold to figure out what karat rating your item is.[19]
The acids all increase in strength, so the acid used for 22K is stronger than the 12K one. If the 18K acid dissolves the gold but the 14K one doesn’t, you know your item is probably around 14K.

Most gold tests are imperfect, so you may need to go through several tests in order to decide if your item is authentic.

You may have heard of the bite test where gold is real if your teeth leave a mark on it. Since most gold items consist of blends of harder metals, avoid the bite test to protect your teeth.

When jewelers say that gold is 24K, they mean that the gold is 99.9% pure with minimal traces of other metals. A piece of gold that is 22K is 22 parts gold and 2 parts another metal.[20]
In items that are less than 24K in quality, the other metals give the gold its hardness and color. Gold on its own is very soft, so metals like silver and copper are added to make gold items more durable.

Jewelry made with white gold, yellow gold, red gold, and rose gold are all combinations of gold and other metals.

If you ever need help determining whether gold is real, take your item to a professional jeweler or appraiser.

Nitric acid is strong and can burn your skin in addition to damaging a valuable piece of gold. If you’re worried about this, let a professional jeweler or appraiser handle the test.

EditThings You’ll Need
EditDoing a Visual Inspection

Magnifying glass

EditTesting Magnetism and Other Properties



Neodymium magnet

Unglazed ceramic plate or tile

EditPerforming a Density Test


Graduated cylinder or measuring cup


EditUsing a Nitric Acid Test

Gold-testing kit

Nitric acid

Stainless steel container


Latex gloves

EditRelated wikiHows
Measure the Density of Metals

Test Water Purity

Buy Gold

Calculate the Value of Scrap Gold

Tell if Jade Is Real

Tell if a Diamond is Real

Tell if an Opal Is Fake

Pawn Jewelry

Spot Fake Gold

EditQuick Summary
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Today in History for 9th June 2019

Historical Events

1790 – 1st book copyrighted under constitution, “Philadelphia Spelling Book”
1873 – Alexandra Palace burnt down, after being open for only 16 days
1908 – King Edward VII of Great Britain visits Tsar Nicholas II at Reval, Russia, where the two discuss the growing power of Germany and British plans for reform in Macedonia
1963 – Barbra Streisand appears on “Ed Sullivan Show”
1995 – Killer (1994) premieres in UK
2001 – 133rd Belmont: Gary Stevens aboard Point Given wins in 2:26.80

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1597 – Pieter J Saenredam, architecture painter
1884 – Johannes Clinge Doorenbos, Dutch journalist/conductor
1933 – Don Young, (Rep-R-AK, 1973- )
1942 – Richard Hutton, cricketer (son of Len, 5 Tests 1971)
1973 – Frederic Choffat, Swiss film director
1993 – Danielle Chuchran, American actress

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1681 – William Lilly, English astrologer, dies at 79
1912 – Ion Luca Caragiale, Romanian actor and playwright (O Noapte Furtunoasa), dies at 60
1989 – Piet[er J] Lieftinck, Dutch minister of Finance (1945-52), dies
2004 – Brian Williamson, Jamaican Gay Activist (b. 1945)
2013 – Iain Banks, Scottish author, dies from gallbladder cancer at 59
2014 – Rik Mayall, English actor and comedian, dies from cardiac arrest at 56

More Famous Deaths »

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How to Cover Acne Scars with Makeup

If you’ve struggled with cystic acne or regular breakouts, you know that not all makeup products can help you look and feel your best. If you want to completely cover up your acne scars for the day, you’ll need products that are mattifying, full-coverage, and long-lasting. Instead of swiping makeup onto your face, try pressing foundation, concealer, and powder into your skin to achieve smooth, even coverage. Combine these products and techniques with color-correcting fluids and scar filling products to instantly camouflage your scars. Have fun using these products to boost your confidence and let your beautiful self shine!

EditSelecting Makeup Products
Match your makeup to your skin tone. A close match between your concealer, foundation, and skin tone will give you the most natural look. Look at your inner wrist under natural light to determine whether you have warm, neutral, or cool undertones. Visit a beauty store and test out a variety of products that are designed to flatter your shade and undertones.[1]
Note that some products change color slightly after 1-2 hours of contact with the oils in your skin. For instance, the perfect shade of foundation might get yellowy by the end of the day. Try out samples to see what looks and feels the best after a full day of wear.

If your skin gets paler or darker depending on the season, pick one set of products to match your summer skin tone and another for your winter shade.

Opt for mattifying concealers, liquid foundations, and setting powders. Makeup products that create a matte finish will visually soften and smooth the texture of your skin. Refrain from using dewy, luminous foundations and powders all over your face, since these tend to emphasize the texture of your skin.[2]

Pick products that are labeled as non-comedogenic or oil-free. Unfortunately, some makeup and skincare products can clog your pores, which can make your acne worse. Read the labels on the products you choose to make sure they say they’re non-comedogenic or oil-free. This means they shouldn’t clog your pores.[3]
Most products will have this listed on the front, but it may be on the back label.

Choose lightweight, blendable, full-coverage products. Full coverage cosmetics are desirable as they will create an even canvas of color across your face. This will make any indentations less noticeable. Look for a full-coverage product that still feels lightweight and blendable on your skin. Products that offer moisturizing or emollient properties will blend nicely without leaving a dry, cakey residue.
Products with words like “camouflage” in the title are designed to cover up areas of discoloration, from dark spots to tattoos. These could be a good solution if your acne scars are significantly darker than the rest of your face.[4]
If you want full coverage over your scars but lighter coverage on the rest of your face, try using a medium-coverage foundation or even a highly pigmented tinted moisturizer that is designed for layering.

Select long-lasting formulas. Many foundations and powders promise “24-hour coverage” or “long-lasting” coverage. Stick with a product like this to avoid midday touch-ups. Additionally, if you anticipate sweat, tears, or being around water, select waterproof cosmetics. However, don’t wear waterproof products often, as they can clog your pores.[5]
If you wear waterproof products, make sure you use a makeup remover that’s formulated to remove them. If you leave makeup on your face, it may clog your pores.

Choose a “pore-eliminating” foundation primer for your base layer. Makeup primers and foundation primers create a uniform base layer that other cosmetic products can be layered onto. Many primers enable long-lasting wear, and a primer described as “poreless,” “pore-eliminating,” or “skin-smoothing” will establish a smoother skin texture.
Primers help keep your makeup in place so it lasts longer.

Primers won’t literally remove your pores but will instead fill them in, helping mask the indentations left by acne scarring and creating the appearance of a smoother canvas for cosmetics to be applied to.[6]

Try concealers that are specially formulated for use on acne scars and breakouts. Look for product containing phrases like “breakout concealer” or “acne concealer” on the labels. These are designed to treat current breakouts and prevent future irritations.[7] For deep scarring, silicone-based acne scar fillers apply a layer of silicone to the surface of your skin.[8]
The silicone fills in any indentations from your scarring and leaves a smooth surface that you can apply foundation and other makeup products onto.

Use a color-correcting concealer to cancel out dark spots. Acne has a cool tone, so using warm shades can balance it out. If you have light skin, use a golden peach concealer. For medium skin, choose a peach undertone. If your skin is dark, opt for a dark orange tinted color-corrector. Stipple the color-corrector onto clean, moisturized skin and seal it with a finishing powder. It might look a little odd at first, but once you layer foundation over the color-correcting product you’ll see the dark spots disappear.[9]
Try not to blend the foundation into the color-correcting product below. The goal is to keep these layers separate so that they each do their job separately.

Try airbrush makeup or spray-on foundation. Airbrush makeup kits are typically sold at professional-level prices and will require some practice before you achieve a flawless, evenly layered finish. But you can pick up a spray-on foundation product to get similar results. These types of products deliver a fine mist evenly across your skin, which can be layered for the perfect amount of coverage.
Mist and spray foundations are pricier than liquid formulas but they allow you to emulate the look of airbrush makeup at home without the equipment investment.[10]
Airbrush makeup tends to photograph well, so consider booking the services of a makeup artist for a special event.[11]
If you’re a makeup artist, consider airbrush equipment an essential part of your kit. Clients typically pay more for airbrushing services. Your clients with acne scars may appreciate having the option to experience the pampering and uniform finish.

EditPreparing and Priming the Skin
Cleanse your skin first. Start with a clean, fresh face before putting on any makeup. You might rinse your face off with water or use a daily cleanser – follow whatever skincare routine your dermatologist recommends.[12]

Exfoliate your skin with a chemical exfoliator to remove dead skin cells. Choose a product that contains salicylic acid or a similar exfoliator. Apply a dime-sized amount to your face and scrub it into your skin. Rinse with cool water to close your pores.[13]
The exfoliator will scrub away dead skin cells so your skin feels smoother and your pores are less likely to get clogged. Additionally, it will help fade your acne scars.

You can use your exfoliator once a day until your skin looks clear. After that, it’s best to use it just 2-3 times a week so you don’t damage your skin.

Moisturize your skin with a lightweight, hydrating product. Again, follow your dermatologist’s recommendations for the right daily moisturizer. It should contain SPF to prevent your acne scars from sun damage. Select something that melts into your skin and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.[14]
It’s also a good idea to moisturize your face at night. Just make sure you’re using the lightweight, oil-free moisturizer recommended by your dermatologist.

Treat your skin with a serum that contains vitamin C or hyrdroquinone. Pick a healing serum that contains a lightening agent like vitamin c or hydroquinione. Additionally, check the label to see if it contains antioxidants. Apply a thin layer of serum to your face before you apply primer. Then, let it sit for a few minutes so it soaks into your skin.[15]
You can also apply your serum at night before you go to bed.

Apply primer to smooth your skin’s texture and provide a solid base. Foundation primers create a receptive base for the rest of your cosmetics to latch onto. Select a primer that has smoothing and “pore-eliminating” properties. Apply it all over your face with a stippling brush, pressing gently into your skin.[16] Let the primer dry and set before layering on other cosmetics.

EditApplying Concealer and Foundation
Dot a color-correcting concealer onto dark spots and set with powder. If you’re going to use a peach or orange toned color correcting product to cancel out the cool, dark undertones of your acne scars, stipple it over the dark areas using a brush. Cover the centers and outer edges of the dark spots. Softly blend the product out at the edges using your fingertips. Push loose or pressed finishing powder into the product using a kabuki brush or powder puff.[17]

Apply a mattifying, full-coverage concealer to your scars. As with the color-correcting product, use a stippling brush to press the concealer gently into your skin. Apply it selectively to the areas you’d like to cover up. Use your fingertips to gently pat the product into your skin.[18]
If your concealer comes with a click-brush or sponge tip applicator, you can use this instead of a separate brush.[19]

Stipple a full-coverage mattifying liquid foundation to your entire face. Applying foundation with swiping and smearing motions will draw attention to the bumpy texture of your skin and won’t deliver even layers of coverage. Instead, press the product into your skin to make sure it gets into the deeper parts of the scarring.[20]
Alternately use a beauty blending sponge in the same stippling motions. Make sure to wash it after each use to prevent bacterial growth.[21]
You can layer buildable products for more coverage over darker spots. Allow the base layer to dry and then apply another layer to those specific areas.[22]

EditSetting Your Makeup
Set the foundation with a matte pressed powder or loose powder. Tap a kabuki brush or powder puff into your chosen powder to pick up a thin layer of product. For loose powders, shake out a little product into the jar lid and press the brush into the lid. Then deliberately press the brush or powder puff into your skin. Move across your face until you get a complete layer of coverage.[23]
Choose a translucent powder to set your makeup for a natural day look. If you’re doing a night look, pick a powder that matches your skin tone for additional coverage. However, using a powder that’s your skin tone can create a heavy look.

Refrain from dusting powder all over with rapid motions. You might smudge some of the foundation or concealer you just carefully placed.

Place highlighter strategically onto smooth areas of your skin. Although luminous products won’t provide good coverage for scarred areas, a dash of fluid or powder highlighter can restore a glow to your matte face. The trick is to place highlighter sparingly on smooth parts of your skin. It will help your favorite features stand out while drawing attention away from the scarring.[24]
Try dotting highlighter along the tops of your cheekbones, above your browbone, or at the tip of your nose. You can also dab it in your inner eye and across your lid.

Finish your look with a setting spray. A long-lasting setting spray will lock your makeup into place all day and all night.[25] That is, until you completely remove your makeup with a cleanser or makeup removing wipe.[26]
You can actually use setting spray in lieu of powder if your skin tends to dry out.[27] However, a pigmented powder will add an extra layer of coverage.

EditThings You’ll Need
Foundation primer


Color-correcting fluid


Stippling brushes

Pressed or loose powder

Kabuki brush or powder puff

Setting spray


Cleanser or makeup removing wipes

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