Is The Gold In Your Jewelry Real?: 5 Ways To Test It

Posted on: 14 July 2015

Your jewelry can be worth considerably more if the metal used in the design is real gold. Still, it can be difficult to tell authentic gold from counterfeit metals. Here are a few ways to determine whether or not your piece contains actual gold:


If your jewelry is real gold, it may display a stamp to show the purity level. 24K indicates pure gold. 18K is 18 parts pure gold, but 6 parts are a different metal. Likewise, 14K is 14 parts real gold and 10 parts filler metal. The lowest concentration of gold in fine jewelry is usually 10K, which is 10 parts gold and 14 parts metal. If your jewelry piece is an antique, the lack of marking may by misleading. It could have worn away, so continue testing the metal even if there is no discernible stamp.


If the metal in your jewelry is not gold, it may be attracted to a magnet. Real gold is not magnetic. Nevertheless, this test alone is not conclusive. Some fake pieces of jewelry contain other nonmagnetic metals.

Changing Colors

If worn places on your jewelry appear gray or black, your jewelry may be gold-plated. A different metal could be showing through in the areas where the gold plating has been rubbed away. A real gold piece will typically have a consistent color throughout.

Take a Bite

If you are not concerned about damaging your jewelry, consider using the "bite test." Just place the metal between your teeth and gently bite down. Look for indentations. The marks should occur only in soft metal, such as gold. Higher karats of gold will be softest. Nevertheless, this test is not foolproof. Other metals, such as lead, are also soft.

How Dense is It?

Calculating the density of your jewelry will probably not be accurate if your piece contains gemstones. Nevertheless, the test should work well for all-metal jewelry. 24K gold has a density of 19.3 grams per milliliter (g/ml).  Here is a simple method you can use to test density:

  1. Weigh your jewelry to obtain mass in grams. 
  2. Partially fill a graduated cylinder or similar container with water. Record the volume of the water in milliliters.
  3. Drop your jewelry into the water and record the new volume.
  4. Subtract the original volume from the new recording.
  5. The formula for density is mass divided by volume. Insert your numbers into the formula.

If your gold weighs 57 grams and displaces your water 3 milliliters, your gold could be close to pure. Nevertheless, metals of similar density can be misleading, and differing concentrations of gold vary in density. For example, 14K gold has a density between 12.9 and 14.6 g/ml.

If you would like to verify the authenticity of the gold in your jewelry, you can test the metal. However, the most reliable verification will come from a certified jewelry appraisal. Schedule an appointment today for a confirmation of the metal in your piece.