4 Ways to Tell if Gold Is Real

Author: Dorinda

Nov. 28, 2023



Tags: Timepieces, Jewelry, Eyewear

'hallmarking' to legally identify the ring as gold, so that I can sell it (legally). Your article has reassured me that it is. Thanks."



"I have a gold ring marked 9ct. There are no other marks. I was unsure whether 9ct was sufficient

Chains among Gold jewelry are must-have timeless pieces of jewelry regularly worn by both men and women on any occasions or matching most outfits. Gold is a symbol of power and wealth. Many people pay high price for a real gold chain with the thinking it can last long or can be heirlooms to pass off in the future. Some people even buy real gold for investments. Gold is an expensive material costing more than $1000 USD, which is one of the main reasons why there are many fake gold in the current market. Hence it is very important for us as consumers to know how to identify if the gold is real. So how to tell whether a gold chain is real or fake? This article is going to advise some tips about how to distinguish real gold from fake ones.

What Is Real Gold?

The purity of gold can be calculated with “karat” or “k” while the karat of the pure gold is 24 karat. Many authentic gold jewelries are not exactly 24k pure gold, they are mixed with other metals to make them harder and more durable. According to international standard, gold whose karats is more than 10 karats is real gold, that is to say, gold less than 10 karats is considered to be counterfeit gold.

Types Of Gold Jewelry

When we shop online, we always come through gold jewelry with different terms like solid gold, 14k, 18k, 14k gold plated, 18k gold plated, what do these terms mean? Are they real gold piece worth to buy? Below we will talk about these terms.

Solid Gold

Gold is a very soft metal and hard to hold its original shape over time. To enhance the durability, gold is mixed with other metals, we call it alloy. For example, 18K gold means 18 out of the 24 parts are pure gold. 14K gold, 18K gold, 22K gold are three common kinds of alloy or solid gold on the market. It’s obvious that the greater amount of pure gold in a gold chain or other piece of jewelry, the higher the purity level.

Gold Filled

God filled jewelry is a thick layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base metal like copper, brass or silver using pressure and heat. It is said that gold filled jewelry can be worn everyday without any problem of fading or peeling off for 30 years. However, the price of the the gold filled jewelry is expensive, the thicker, the higher.

Gold Plated

Gold Plated jewelry is a piece with brass, copper, silver or stainless steel as base metal and coated with a thin layer of gold on the surface through the use of chemicals or electricity. Compare with solid gold and gold filled jewelry, gold plated jewelry is cheaper and more adorable. It is also a trendy style perfect for daily wear and match any outfits, which would be a good luxury present idea for yourself or your beloved.  

Are Gold Filled, Gold Plated Gold Chains Real Gold?

The answer should be NO. The basic metal of the gold plated and gold filled jewelry is brass or copper but not gold. There is just a thin layer of gold plated or attached to the metal with heat on the gold jewelry for the gold plated piece or the gold filled piece.

Are Gold Filled, Gold Plated Gold Chains Worthy To Buy?

Compare with real gold chains, it is a fact known to all that gold filled and gold plated gold jewelries are cheaper and more adorable. Gold plated jewelries can also give the impression of luxury. There are many timeless and stunning gold plated fashion jewelry pieces sold at astonishingly cheap price. These chunky gold plated pieces are easy to pair with any outfits on many occasions. It is worthy to buy gold plated gold chains as long as you know you are buying fashion jewelry. Below we listed some chic and chunky 18k gold plated chain necklaces that you would wear all day.

  • Cable Chain Necklace

8 Simple Methods to Tell If Your Gold Chain Is Real

If you buy a so called “real” gold chain at a really high price and would like to tell if it is really genuine one, the below simple methods would help.

1. Look at the Marking

To confirm the purity or identify if your gold chain is real, you can take a look at the hallmarks at the clasp of the gold chain. Real gold jewelries normally stamped with the purity of the gold chain such as 10k, 14k, 18k, 24k while fake gold will not have markings engraved on the clasp. Some gold jewelries with engraving like “KGP” “KGF” means gold plated or gold filled jewelries which are not real

If you find it confused, the below table would be some of help.

However, the hallmarks cannot guarantee the jewelry piece is authentic to some extent. As some fake gold will also be stamped with markings of real gold to make profits.

2. Test with a Powerful Magnet

Real gold will react nothing to a magnet. If your gold chain whose purity is above 10k sticks tightly to the strong magnet, it will be not a real gold chain. There should be a high percentage  other metals but not real gold that can attract to the magnet. If your gold chain has a little attraction to the magnet, it will be a gold chain with a low percentage of gold.

3. Test with Water

Prepare a cup of water, gently drop your gold chain in the water. If your gold chain sinks straight to the bottom of the cup, it should be authentic gold because real gold is denser than water. If your gold chain floats, it is not a real gold chain. Please note that some real gold whose karat less than 18k like 10k,12k,14k will not sink as quickly as the piece more than 18k.


4. Test with Skin

Real gold is a shiny raw material and will not tarnish and will not make your skin turn green over time. If your gold chain has sign of discoloration, it is definitely not authentic gold.


5.Test with Makeup

You may think it odd and not that reliable to test with your makeup however it is an effective method worth a try. Just apply a bit liquid foundation to your forehead then rub your gold chain to test. Wait for about one minute to see if there is any sign of black streak. If so, it is glad that it is a real gold chain.


6. Test with Nitric Acid

This method only applies to gold chains with scratches or spots. Or you can make a small scratch on your to test. Apply a drop of Nitric acid to the scratch or damaged part of the gold chain. Nitric acid will cause damage to fake gold jewelries or turn them green. If your gold chain reacts nothing to the nitric acid, it is a genuine gold. If there is something milky showing up, your gold chain should contain gold whose base metal is sterling silver. Note: Please make sure to read the  instructions and well-prepared before trying this method with the acid. 

7. Test with White Vinegar

Prepare some white vinegar and just simply apply a few drops of vinegar to your gold chain. If the vinegar change the color of the gold chains, then it is not authentic gold.


8. Test By Professional Appraisal

There is no substitution to identify if a gold chain is genuine or fake by a professional jewelry appraisal. Though it costs some however it is the most reliable way and will save you a lot of time.



"All that glitter is not gold."  This journal has introduced some types of gold and showcased several simple and convenient methods to tell a real gold chain from the fakes that you can try at home. To prevent from buying a fake gold, the best way is to buy real gold jewelry from a trusted jewelry store with certificates.


4 Ways to Tell if Gold Is Real

How to Tell If A Gold Chain Is Real?- A Complete Guide


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