The question of gold purity and validity has been bothering people over the centuries. Even ancient kings and queens had to be careful about frauds and criminal tricks connected to their jewellery and crowns. For example, the father of mathematics, Archimedes, revealed the deception about the golden crown of the king of Syracuse, Hiero II.
Thanks to this philosopher and mathematician and other scientists throughout history, you won’t be an easy target for fraudsters and thieves nowadays. Luckily, there are many contemporary ways how to tell if the ring is real gold or not.
How to Tell If a Ring Is a Real Gold
Gold is a precious metal that has been valued as the supreme one of all. It has a lot of positive and unique characteristics. Among other things, its gloss and shine are fantastic, and it attracts the eye of many, especially women.
Additionally, gold never corrodes, and you can see many benefits of using it for different purposes, including designing rings, jewellery, and teeth. The density of gold is the highest compared to all other metals, and that characteristic makes it even more valuable.
Some of the relevant and trustworthy ways to tests the gold ring you can find online are simple and doable at your home. The most common are mechanical, visual, and chemical ones. Let’s see.
1. Visual Test
The simple markings found on the ring’s inner part can justify the gold quality since they are not that easy to fake and forge. Therefore, you can always rely on the official gold markings. All you need to do is look for it on the inside of the ring.
Remember that numerous markings can show you the quality of gold. I will give you a quick review of which stamps you can find and what they mean.
The pure gold features 99% of this precious metal or 999 parts of pure gold of a total of 1000. Therefore, you are off the hook and have the best gold quality ring if your ring has the mark 999.
If you find a stamp 417, the ring contains 41.7% pure gold, meaning you have a 10K gold ring. It is still a gold ring, but 53.8% of the metals it contains is an alloy.
Another, the more usual way of marking, is by using the karat system. For example, 24 karat gold is the gold with 99% purity, meaning that all its 24 units are 99% pure. Next in line is 22K gold with its 22 units of gold of maximum 24, meaning it is 91.67% pure. Other common karats you can find nowadays are 18K, 14K, and 10K.
Keep in mind that the absence of markings doesn’t necessarily mean your ring is fake. You may have an antique piece made in a period when stamping wasn’t standard. In such a case, you should try a different approach to find out what you have.
2. Test with a Magnet
One of the gold’s primary characteristics is that it is not magnetic. So, you only need a piece of magnet to determine if the ring in your possession is made of this precious metal or not. If the gold ring is pure 24K gold, you can’t attract it with a magnet.
That is not just the case with the ring only, but you can test all the jewellery or coins you doubt. In case your band is attracted to the magnet, it is not pure gold. Usually, it contains other alloys or is a gold-plated ring.
In case the ring is gold plated, it should have hallmarks like GP (gold-plated), GF (gold-filled), or GEP (gold-electroplated). The magnet method is excellent for rings with a high percentage of gold. However, you should apply some other testing methods that include more specific determination of how much gold is in your band.
3. The Sound Test
If your hearing serves you well, you can test the gold ring just by tapping it. When knocking the golden ring or coin, the sound you can hear is ringing long sound that often is higher than when tapping other metals.
On the other hand, the sound you get from other metals won’t be as high pitched as gold, but duller and much shorter. Therefore, the sound test can help you detect the real gold from fake if you don’t have any other option. Remember that this way is highly subjective so that the results can be questionable.
4. Gold Density Test
As the gold is the densest metal of all, you can test your ring’s originality, as Archimedes did a long time ago. All you need is a bowl or a vial with markings in milliliters. Pour in the water without checking its temperature since it is not crucial.
First, you should mark down the level on the marking scale. Then, you need to sink the ring in and write down the marking on the scale again. In the end, subtract and calculate the difference in water levels.
Once you have the necessary number, you can apply the rule that the gold density equals its mass divided by its volume. You need to do a bit more of maths and divide a mass of the ring with the number you previously got.
If the number you got is around 19.3, you can be sure that you have a 24K gold ring. Don’t worry if the result is a bit lower. It is still a gold ring but with fewer karats. For instance, the 22K ring density is 15.6, and the 18K gold ring’s density value is 14.7.
5. Nitric Acid Test
Although it can damage your golden ring, the nitric acid method is highly reliable and trustworthy. So, let’s see how it works.
You need to apply a specific acid to the scratched part of the ring. To do so, the best option is to scrape the inside of the ring. That way, any possible damage won’t be visible. When you add the acid to the scratch, you should observe if there are any changes.
The real gold won’t react to the acid. So, you can be sure you have a real gold ring if there are no changes. Otherwise, there is a possibility that the ring you have is the less karat gold than 24K or is not gold at all.
You can purchase the nitric acid kits practically anywhere. Unless your ring is antique or a particular kind, you can test it yourself. Otherwise, I suggest you take it to the expert to test its purity and quality as you may damage it while scratching.
6. Ceramic Test
If you have an unglazed ceramic plate, you can try this simple test. All you need to do is to scratch the ring over the plate surface. Depending on the trace it leaves, you will be able to determine its composition.
If the trail the rings leave is golden, what you have is a real gold ring. On the other hand, the luck has turned the back on you if the trace that the ring leaves is black. That is a sure sign you are stuck with the fake golden ring.
7. Marks on the Skin
Maybe you have heard of it and thought it is a myth, but the fake gold will leave the marks on your skin. If your ring wears out and leaves a trace and different color on your skin, you can be sure that you own a false gold band.
Silver often leaves the black trace, while the copper can leave green marks on your skin. In case you notice such a color change under your ring, you will know the piece of jewelry you possess is not pure gold or maybe not gold at all.
8. Bite a Gold Test
Just like in old Western movies, you can bite a gold and test its validity. Despite being the densest metal, the 24K gold is soft. That is why the jewelers add different alloys to improve its firmness.
However, if the gold ring is made of a real 24K gold, you will leave a mark of your teeth when you bite it. That way, you can be sure you deal with the real thing.
9. Sink the Ring Test
Another practical and inexpensive method to test a golden ring is to sink it. Fill in the transparent jar with water regardless of its temperature.
When you drop the ring inside, it will fall directly to the jar’s bottom when made of gold. Because of its density, the gold objects don’t float but go straight down.
Knowing all these methods will give you peace of mind about the gold rings you have already had. Furthermore, you will be skilled in detecting and evaluating some of the gold objects and rings you decide to purchase in the future.
Since gold is the most sacred and precious element of all, people often forge and fake it. Therefore, some extra caution when dealing with it can sometimes be necessary.