How to Tell if a Necklace is Real Gold
Before buying gold jewelry, especially if you’re buying it online, it’s important to take a good look at the product images and product description. This way, you’ll have a clear idea about the gold’s authenticity and quality. If you know the jeweler since you bought from them before or you were referred by a friend, then you can trust the gold they’re selling is real. You can often try a piece on in person too to see how it looks up close and how the material feels.
But what if you’re away on vacation and someone tries to sell you a necklace and assures you that it’s real gold jewelry? How would you know for sure?
Fortunately, there are a few key ways to tell the different between a real gold necklace and a fake gold necklace. We’re telling you everything we know, up ahead.
What is the material that "real gold" is made of?
Real gold jewelry doesn’t mean the piece is 100% gold. If it was 100% gold, it would be difficult for jewelers to meld the gold into necklaces, and other types of jewelry. Without other metal properties, pure gold is too soft and can’t bend easily. With that being said, pure gold jewelry does exist, but it’s more expensive.
There are varying degrees of real gold depending on the level of purity. For example, the highest purity of gold is 24 karats, which consists of 100% gold. But you can’t form jewelry out of 24 karats, which we explained above. The closest thing you’ll get to pure gold jewelry is 22 karat gold with alloys — which means it’s mostly made from pure gold but also includes other properties like silver, zinc, and copper.
So, if you were to buy 10 karats gold, 14 karat gold, 18 karat gold, or others types of gold, know that the higher the karat, the more pure gold it’s composed of. Adding other metals to pure gold isn’t meant to cheapen it, it’s meant to ensure you jewelry withstands wear and tear and can be formed into jewelry to begin with.
What is the difference between solid gold, gold filled, and gold plated jewelry?
Solid gold jewelry is made up of gold inside and outside while gold plated and gold filled jewelry is only made of gold on the outside. Therefore, the latter two options are less expensive and less valuable.
What are some ways to test the authenticity of a gold necklace?
There are a few ways to test if a gold necklace is actually real gold. (And yes, 10K, 14K etc. gold is considered to be real gold even if it’s not pure gold — almost no jewelry is made of 100% gold!).
One of easiest ways is to pour drops of vinegar (this element can help clean your jewelry too!), and see if the jewelry changes color. If the metal portion of your necklace changes color, then it’s not real gold.
You can also apply nitric acid to a damaged part or small scratch on your jewelry. Nitric acid will turn that part green if it’s fake gold. If it’s genuine gold, your gold necklace won’t change color. White vinegar is more of a household staple than nitric acid, so you’ll probably end of trying that method over the acid test.
Or, you can try methods that don’t require any outside elements. For example, you can hold a gold piece of jewelry in your hands for a few minutes. If it changes colors (look out for a blue/green tint!), then it’s not real gold. If its color remains intact, then it is real gold. Real gold is not reactive so it should never change colors!
Another test that involves your skin is to put liquid foundation and powder on top of your skin. Lightly rub the gold necklace on the makeup and if it’s real gold you’ll see a black streak on your skin.
Since gold is very dense, you can test it by dropping it in water. If it floats to the top, then your gold might not be real after all.
Some tests aren’t as accurate as others so it’s best to try a couple of different methods or bring it to a jeweler to confirm your gold’s authenticity. For example, the magnet test assumes that if your gold necklace attaches to a magnet, then it’s not real gold because gold isn’t magnetic. However, the magnet could be attracting the base metals mixed with pure gold.
What makes a necklace real gold?
A real gold necklace is typically stamped with the letter K, which symbolizes the quanity of karats and how much of the piece is made up of gold versus other metals. Real gold’s weight depends on length and thickness. In general, real gold is considered to be a heavy metal.
Fake gold jewelry, on the other hand, is mostly made up of another metal like copper. Some people even have allergy sensitivities to fake gold jewelry (mostly from the metal nickel) and can only wear jewelry without that metal.