How can I test my necklace to see if it is real gold?

How can I test my necklace to see if it is real gold?

Gold has been in existence for many years and is among the leading valuable materials across the globe. According to history, this precious metal came into existence around 3000 BC in ancient Egypt. At this time, Egyptians had plenty of gold used for making jewelry, gold bars, and other adornments for trading purposes. In some ancient cultures, it was used for healing purposes since it was thought to possess some healing powers.

Today, it's widely used for making jewelry, architecture, currency, decor, etc. Most jewelry enthusiasts today purchase gold jewelry, including necklaces, when attending various occasions due to its beauty and elegance. However, due to the introduction of gold imitations, it's really becoming difficult to know whether you've purchased a purely golden necklace or not. The major challenge, in this case, is that there are higher chances that you'll spend a similar amount to buy fake gold necklaces, especially if you can't differentiate between real and fake ones. Due to the challenge of imitations, experts have come up with some ways to test whether gold necklaces are made of pure gold or not, as explained below:

  1.  Hallmark test/stamp test

 Hallmarks are mandatory marks engraved on all golden items, including necklaces. Jewelry manufacturers use these marks for people to differentiate between real and fake gold easily. These hallmarks don't necessarily have to appear in visible places on the jewelry. They may appear even in hidden places, including inside the necklace. These hallmarks can be: 

  • Millesimal Fineness system purity numbers such as 333, 417, 625, 883, etc.
  • Manufacturer's name such as ESPO(Esposito)
  • Karat system purity numbers such as 18k, 20k, 22k, etc.

 If you come across a gold necklace with some funny numbers except exactly those in the two systems, you shouldn't buy it since they may be referring to other materials, including silver. Additionally, ensure you ascertain the marks are measured in millesimal or karats. 

  1. Skin test

 This is among the easiest ways to test whether a necklace is made of real or fake gold. To get started, you need to hold the necklace between your hands for some minutes and observe what happens. If the necklace is made of fake gold, the skin sweat will start reacting with the metal. You'll also see skin discoloration where it'll turn green, black, or blue. This happens due to the reaction between your skin and the metal used in making the necklace.

Typically, real gold doesn't cause such reactions only, with a few exceptions for allergic people. You can also use makeup to determine gold authenticity. To get started, apply a liquid foundation to the skin and wait until it dries. Next, place the necklace on the area you've applied the liquid foundation and make observations. If you notice some black tracks left behind, there are high chances that the necklace is made of real gold. Typically, gold doesn't react. You can also combine with approach with others for accuracy reasons. 

  1. Density test

 This test involves calculations that will help you determine if a necklace is made of real or fake gold. You need a water container, scale, and measuring device. The water/density test presents a slightly lower risk to your gold necklace than acid tests. To get started,

  • Weigh your gold necklace in grams using a sensitive scale.
  • Next, fill out the container with water to a level that you'll easily submerge the necklace.
  • Record the initial and current measurements of the water before and after submerging the necklace.
  • Find the difference between the current and initial measurements.

Since you've got the mass of the necklace and the volume of water displaced after submerging the gold necklace, you can proceed and compute its density using the formula: density=mass of the necklace/volume of water displaced.

If the result is approximately 19g/ml, your necklace could possibly be made of real gold. This method isn't 100% accurate since the necklace could also contain other heavy metals, which could probably cause a huge water displacement. 

  1. Nitric acid test

 Real gold is noble, meaning it doesn't react or corrode when it comes into close contact with acids. Nitric acid is among the best acids you can use to test the authenticity of your gold necklace.

According to experts, this method isn't suitable for testing jewelry for long-term use or resale in the near future. To get started:

Make a small scratch on your gold necklace. This scratch shouldn't be made on visible parts of the necklace.

Carefully put a single nitric acid drop on the scratch you've made and observe if there'll be any reaction or not. Lack of reaction indicates that the necklace could be made of real gold.

On the other hand, a green color resulting from the reaction could indicate that the necklace is gold plated or made of another metal.

Before performing the nitric acid test, you should take precautions to avoid the acid coming into contact with your skin since it can be dangerous.

Ensure you wear goggles and gloves and perform the test in an open or well-ventilated area. You should also be far away from fire sources since the acid can easily explode. 

  1. Scratch test

 You can use the scratch test to check the gold purity in a necklace. Find an unglazed porcelain tile, ceramic plate, or black jeweler's stone from a physical or online maintenance store to get started. You should be keen enough to avoid damaging the necklace when scratching. If you scratch without proper care, you can cause irreversible damage, thus altering its value. You should hold and gently scratch your gold necklace using any mentioned materials until you leave a mark. Check the produced streak color to ascertain whether it's gold or not. If the necklace is made of real gold, the produced streak should be golden, yellow colored. Any other color, including black, shows that the gold is fake. 

  1. Electronic or XPF Thermo gold test

 Classified as a gold machine test that's more harmless and accurate. This method is common among professional appraisers and sellers who want to maintain their customers by providing high-quality gold jewelry. The method will help you determine the actual gold composition in your necklace by sending electromagnetic waves into your gold necklace and giving readings based on the metal's resistance. To get accurate results, experts recommend following the instructions from the manufacturer of the machine. 

  1. Magnet test

 gold magnet test

You can use the gold magnet test to find out the authenticity of gold in a necklace. This is an easy, cheap, and convenient gold test. To get started, find a high-strength magnet at a local store. Then place your magnet into close contact with your gold necklace. If you notice some attraction to the magnet, the necklace is possibly made of gold alloys or fake gold. Real gold doesn't attract any magnetic object. Even if there's a slight attraction, there are high chances that the necklace is gold plated. It's also essential to understand that the chain might have some non-magnetic metals such as stainless steel or copper. In this case, the chain won't be attracted by the magnet. Therefore, to be certain, you can incorporate another test. 

  1. XRF Thermo Scientific test

 This is another gold machine test classified as the most accurate method. It works by sending x-rays through the necklace. This makes the necklace's atoms excited, thus giving off some radiation. The machine can then read and identify the exact metal used to make the chain. The best thing about this method is that it can't damage your necklace, as in the case of acid tests. This machine test is also fast and gives alerts in case the necklace is plated. More importantly, it also gives the exact gold percentage and karat weight of your gold necklace. A low karat weight shows that the necklace doesn't have real gold or is simply an advanced counterfeit. 

  1. Letter markings test

 A necklace made of real gold shouldn't have a purity of less than 41.7%. Even if you're a first-time buyer, it's essential to look for letter markings on the necklace to be sure you're purchasing the one with real gold. If you come across a necklace with marking such as GF (Gold Filled), GP (Gold plated), GE (Gold Electroplated), HGP (Heavy Gold Plated), or GEP (Gold Electro Plated), don't purchase it since it doesn't have real gold. Such markings show that the necklace contains tiny gold percentages and other materials. The tiny gold percentage is only used to make the necklace appear golden. 

  1. Vinegar test

 Vinegar test is an acid test that could be used in testing real or fake gold necklaces. To get started, place the jewelry on a flat surface or simply hold it. Then add a few drops of vinegar to the chain and make observations. A change in the color of the necklace shows that it's not made of real gold. On the other hand, if you don't see any changes, i.e., the necklace's shiny color is maintained, then it contains real gold.


In conclusion, these are the top ways to test if your necklace has real or fake gold. You can also perform a floating test or size and weight test. You'll have an advantage if you buy your necklace from a reputable jewelry store since they can easily help you analyze and determine gold authenticity.


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.