How to Tell if Something is Real Gold: A Useful Guide

Gold is a valuable commodity that tends to either hold or increase in value over time.

Before you buy or sell gold, it’s crucial to know how to tell if something is real gold so you know that you’re getting an authentic product.

Read on to learn more about how to check for real gold so that you’re protected against fraud and can keep your money safe.

Quick Gold Facts and Tips

Gold has been considered a commodity throughout history. Since this valuable resource is an essential part of trade and commerce, there has always been plenty of criminals who have attempted to make some fast cash through counterfeiting this crucial material.

In order to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of fraud, it’s important to consider the source when buying, selling, or trading gold. If you’re purchasing gold bars, make sure they are manufactured by LMBA approved refiners. For coins, be sure that it includes a certificate of authenticity or verification that the gold in the coin is real.


There is no magic bullet when it comes to preventing the circulation of counterfeit gold. The best way to combat this is to learn how you can test gold for authenticity yourself. You can learn more about buying gold from a reputable gold exchange.

Testing gold will save you a lot of money, time, and stress. Gold has some very unique properties that make it extremely difficult to replicate.

The Size and Weight Test

If you’re purchasing bullion coins, always check the size and weight. Anything listed as bullion is created to a specific set of criteria that can help you with a good reference point to check for authenticity.

Gold is one of the densest materials on earth and has unique physical properties that are quite difficult to replicate. Any “metal” that isn’t gold will almost always be much lighter and much less compact than real gold.

For example, if someone were to sell a fake gold Britannia at a one-ounce weight, it would need to be quite a lot wider and thicker before it could weight the same as a real one. Anything with a similar size and thickness will almost always weight a lot less than a real gold Brittania.

Learn about the specific size (diameter and thickness) and weight of various gold coins. This knowledge will make it easier to spot a fake since you can weigh and measure the coin before deciding to purchase it.

How to Tell if Something is Real Gold: The Magnet Test

Just like most other metals, gold is not magnetic. Any authentic piece of jewelry, coin, or bar made of gold will never stick to a magnet.

Purchase a strong magnet, and use it to try and pick up any gold you’re interested in buying. If the gold sticks to the magnet, it may still contain some real gold, but it’s also mixed with other metals.

Be aware that just because gold is not magnetic, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other fake metals in the coin or bar you look at. Since metal doesn’t stick to magnets, use this test in conjunction with some other litmus tests so you’re 100% sure the item is real.

Sound and Ceramic

When you’re looking at how to tell if something is real gold, you can also try the “ping test.” This test shows you whether or not the gold is really by listening to the sound it makes when the gold is struck or hit with another coin.

Authentic precious metals should make a high-pitched ringing sound when they’re hit, while base metals usually sound dull. Try this by balancing a coin on the end of your finger and tapping it with another coin. Listen carefully for a ringing sound, which should make it obvious that the item is authentic and not made with other non-precious metals.

Another quick and easy test you can try is to drag your gold item over a ceramic plate. Use an unglazed ceramic plate and gently drag the gold across the surface using gentle pressure. If a gold mark is left behind on the ceramic, it’s likely real and if the mark looks black, it’s likely fake.

Nitric Acid

One of the most common tests to check for the authenticity of gold is the nitric acid test. This test can cause damage to most forms of metal unless it’s made of pure gold.

Gold is resistant to oxidation and corrosion which means that real gold won’t react when nitric acid is applied. You can purchase a gold test kit with different strengths of acid to test different carats.

If the gold doesn’t react to the acid according to the strength and carat level suggested, it should be authentic. Make sure you only apply acid marked for the proper carate level or else the test may not work as well. If you apply the nitric acid marked for a 22-carat gold piece to a 24-carat piece and see no reaction, then you know the gold is at least 22 carats or more.

Make Sure Your Gold Passes the Test

From weight and size to sound and ceramic, it’s crucial to know how to tell if something is real gold. Once you learn these easy tips, it will be much easier for you to spot fakes in the future and protect your hard-earned money.

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