How to Tell if Gold You Found is Real

Your metal detector sounds. It seems like you’ve found a coin, but when you pull it out of the ground, it looks like it could be gold. Maybe you’ve found something that looks like gold with a gold panning kit or gold sluice and you want to verify the item.

There are 5 simple tests that you can use to determine if you’ve got real gold or an imposter in your hands.

#1. If it’s and item you’ve found, look for stamps, marks, or other gold indications.

Almost all gold products are stamped or marked with what is called a “hallmark.” This indicates the purity of the gold that was used. You’ll find it on the inside of a ring, on the clasp of a necklace chain, or noted on a coin, bar, or other produced item. Look for a number that is followed by the abbreviation for karat for gold items produced in the US: “K.”

Gold created internationally has a percentage expressed as a stamp or mark instead to indicate its purity. A 24K item from Europe, for example, would likely be stamped “.999.”

#2. Use nitric acid.

If the gold doesn’t have a mark of you’ve been panning for gold, then you can use nitric acid to see if the gold is real. Make a small scratch on the metal and place a drop of nitric acid into the scratch. Real gold will not cause a reaction with the acid. If it is another metal, however, then you may see the item begin to turn green.

Even gold-plated jewelry turns green or will leave a substance that looks like milk on the item.

We recommend this precious metals testing kit from GTS to verify you’ve found gold using this method.

#3. Use the liquid foundation test.

Gold products will not leave streaks when a liquid foundation and makeup powder is applied to the skin. Apply the liquid foundation and powder to the arm (some might advise that you use your forehead, but that is ridiculous). Then rub the suspected gold item over the area of makeup. Items that are not gold tend to leave a black streak behind in the makeup.

This only works when an individual has lower than normal iron levels in their blood.

#4. Use a bucket of water or a magnet to verify the item.

Gold is not magnetic. If your item is attracted to a magnet, then it isn’t likely a gold item.

Gold is also a heavy metal. If the item is real gold, then it should sink when it is placed in a bucket of water. That’s why gold panning kits or sluices are so effective at what they do.

A strong magnet, not your standard kitchen magnet, is your best option for this testing method. We recommend these Grade 8 discs from Tuff Magnets to get the job done.

#5. Have the item professionally appraised.

If you’ve used these methods and are not 100% sure that the item you’ve found is gold, then take it to a local professional appraiser with a long-standing reputation of honesty and helpfulness. A small fee may be charged for the service, but it will give you the answer you need.

Knowing how to tell if gold is real can be easy when you have the right tools available to you. When in doubt, a professional can help as well. That way you can know if you have found a real treasure while metal detecting.

Leave a Comment