So, you’ve inherited some jewelry, or found some old jewelry that you no longer wear, and you’re thinking of selling it but you aren’t sure what it’s worth. You could go get it appraised, but that might end up being time consuming and expensive if you take it to an expert and then discover that it’s nothing more than costume jewelry. So, why not do some home tests first of all, to make sure that what you’ve got is the real thing.
Here are a few simple things you can do to tell whether your jewelry is real gold or not.
1 – Find the Hallmark
Most real gold items will have been stamped with a hallmark which will indicate the karat weight of the item. Typically, this will read something like 10K or 14K. The higher the number, the better. The number is a rating out of 24 which indicates how pure the item is – 14K gold is ‘just over half’ gold, while 24K is pure gold (it’s unlikely that you’ll get jewelry that is completely pure, because pure gold is very soft and easy to damage).
If the item was made in Europe, then instead of a karat rating, the weight will be listed as a decimal – .585 is the same as 14K, and .999 or 1.000 is ‘pure’.
Not all jewelry will have this stamp, indeed the stamps are a relatively recent thing, and older jewelry may not be marked at all, or may have a maker’s mark instead.
2 – Use Nitric Acid if The Item is Scrap
If you have a piece of jewelry that you consider to be scrap, and you are willing to risk damaging it, then you can use nitric acid to test it. Simply use a nail file to make a tiny scratch on the item, and then apply a drop of nitric acid to that area. If you see a milky substance form, or the ‘gold’ starts to turn green, then you have a gold-plated item. If there is no reaction, then this means that the item is most likely gold.
Be aware that nitric acid can be dangerous to handle – wear gloves and goggles, and only work with nitric acid in a room that is well ventilated.
3 – Use a Magnet
Another test that can be useful for determining if a piece of jewelry is gold or not is to simply use a magnet. If the item is attracted to the magnet, then it is definitely not pure gold. There may be some gold in it, but it is not pure, because gold is not attracted to magnets.
4 – Put the Item in Water
Gold is heavy, and will sink in water. If a piece of jewelry floats then it is definitely not made of gold.
The above tests will help you to eliminate most ‘fake’ or ‘costume’ jewelry, but the only way to know the value of an item for sure is to take it to a reputable dealer. If you’re selling an item as scrap gold then the company will value it for you, however if you are on the fence about whether or not you want to sell an item and you would like to have an idea of what it is worth first then the above tests are a good way for you to figure out whether the jewelry is likely to be worth anything, and all bar the nitric-acid test are quite non-destructive, so you will be able to keep the item undamaged if it has some sentimental value. Find diamond engagement rings near me at affordable price.