Gold and Hallmarks: How to Tell if Gold is Genuine
Short of bringing an item you suspect of being genuine gold to a professional assayer to test the item's metal, there are several quick and easy methods anyone can use to roughly assess not only real from fake gold, but the quality of the metal.
The purity of gold items is measured in carat or 'karat' (american), most modern items, if genuine will have a marking of some kind, try looking for a hallmark or carat. Globally, caratage ranges from 8-24. (33-99% purity)
Hallmarks & Caratage Explained
In simple terms: The higher the carat, the more gold there is in the item, hallmarks are three digit number markings found on precious metals, for gold, these numbers range from 333 to 999 and each hallmark is representative of a carat and in turn, a gold purity percentage. For a quick Carat to Hallmark conversion chart, see the table below.
Gold Purity (%)
Identifying Genuine Gold: Things YOU Can Do
- Check for a carat or hallmark, be aware though that official markings can be hard to spot sometimes after excessive wear on the item has occurred, furthermore a hallmark does not guarantee that any item is genuine, counterfeit items have been known to bear hallmarks, though it is unlikely that you'll find one.
- Look for signs of wear, especially in areas where excessive wear can occur, discolouration could be the sign of gold plating or even simply gold colouring.
- Check for magnetic properties in the item, Gold as a metal is not magnetic.
- Assess the weight of the item: Gold items, and especially larger gold items should have a bit of weight to them, if you think the item is a little on the light side for its size and doesn't have any official markings it's more likely to be gumball than gold.
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