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At Home Gold Tests

In this video we try out some of the at-home gold tests we’ve seen online. Some of these creative solutions actually worked pretty well…and, some of them didn’t. We also explain how a couple of the more professional gold testing methods work. We demonstrate how to use a touchstone acid test kit and an electronic gold tester (see the links below for the products we used in the video). Here is a quick rundown of our results:

Home Tests that Worked

  • Magnet. This is a fast, non-desctructive test that works surprisingly well. Gold isn’t magnetic, so if your piece is attracted by the magnet, you know it’s fake. Like all tests, it won’t catch every fake, but it’s a really fast and effective test you can do at home. This test works best with very strong magnets like rare earth magnets.
  • Bleach. This is definitely a destructive test, so use with caution. File a a small section to get through any plating, and then leave the piece in the bleach for 15-30 minutes. If you see any kind of reaction, the piece is likely not genuine gold. Your mileage may vary, but we found that this can catch some fakes.
  • Liquid Foundation. This one really surprised us. It sounds like a gimmick, but it was actually pretty accurate with our test pieces. Put some foundation on you skin, let it dry, and then rub the piece against it. The real gold piece leaved a dark smudge and the fake ones do not. Of course, this test isn’t perfect, and it didn’t catch every fake. But, it worked a lot better than we expected.

Home Tests that Failed

  • Lemon Juice. We didn’t see any reaction where we scratched our test pieces. It might work better if you submerged the piece and left it for a long time, but, in general, we wouldn’t recommend this one.
  • Vinegar. We expected this one to work kind of like the bleach, but we saw absolutely no reaction on our test pieces. Again, every fake is different, and this might catch some fakes. But, it didn’t catch ours.
  • Baking Soda. The idea is to make a baking soda paste and then leave it on the piece where you filed it for a short time. After you wipe it off, you should see some discoloration. Unfortunately, we didn’t see see any reactions on our test pieces.
  • Toothpaste. This one is supposed to work similarly to the baking soda test. Just apply the toothpaste to the test piece, wait a bit, and then wipe if off. Sadly, we didn’t see any discoloration on our tests.

Professional Tests

  • Touchstone Acids. The kits can be found online for fairly cheap (see link below) and they are very effective you used correctly. The basic idea is to apply acids of varying strength to very thin shavings for the piece you are testing. If an acid eats away the metal, you know that it is of a lower purity than the label on the acid. By comparing the results of your test piece against a piece of known gold you can determine if your piece is genuine gold or not.
  • Electronic Gold Tester. This is a fantastic, non-destructive test that we use every day. The tester works by creating an electrical circuit with the piece of jewelry in the middle. By measuring the resistance of the circuit the purity of the gold in the jewelry can be estimated. The result is an easy to use and accurate testing tool. However, like all testers, this one is not perfect. If you test the wrong area, or don’t have it properly calibrated, you can get bad results. As with the rest, this tester is only as good as the gemologist who is using it.

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