How to Identify Fake Gold and Silver
When there’s money to be made doing something, people will do everything they can to cheat. That’s true even in the precious metals markets, where fakes lure unsuspecting buyers into buying something with no value.
Here are some tried-and-true methods to spot a fake at home:
Gold Security Features
Gold jewellery, bars and coins will often have an impression on it from the jeweller or mint. Some are practically microscopic while others are intricate designs that make forgeries incredibly difficult to make. These security features vary depending on the type of precious metal and the producer. Compare these with authentic ones you see online.
For example, Canada’s own Royal Canadian Mint has a special security feature called “Bullion Coin DNA that can ‘read’ a coin to confirm the purity of the metal. Many mints offer bars that are sealed in “assay packages” which include a serial number and very hard-to-replicate features.
Although security features that ‘look’ real, don’t necessarily mean the products ‘are’ real, Royal Bull suggests taking a look at these as a good first step. Not sure if your product has security features? Ask Royal Bull – we can advise.
Do a Magnet Test
Gold and silver do not magnetize, so this is a fast and easy way to identify fake gold or silver.
Place your precious metal (no matter if it’s a bar, coin or round) on a table. Gently place a rare earth (neodymium) magnet on the precious metal and if the magnet sticks to it with a good amount of force, it’s a fake!
Keep in mind that silver does have some magnet properties, so you may encounter a little ‘pull’. Why is that? Silver coins have a very small amount of copper in them, which has magnetic properties.
Do a Float/Gravity Test
Gold is incredibly dense (heavy!) and any gold larger than a flake will immediately sink in water. To do this, simply fill a clear drinking glass with water. Hold the precious metal above the cup and look through the side of the glass as you drop the item in the water. If it floats, you have yourself a fake.
Do a Skin Test
Tightly hold your gold for a few minutes. Sweat from your hands will affect the metal. When gold is in contact with skin, there should never be a reaction that results in discoloration. If there is any discoloration of your skin, whether it is green, black or blue, then it is likely fake gold.
Fake gold means that it is not 100% gold. Some are entirely a different metal, while others are only a small percentage of a different metal. This is why it’s so important to take note of any discoloration in the skin test.
Do an Acid Test
This one’s a little more challenging, so please be careful in protecting yourself and your bullion while doing it. Acid does not harm gold and silver. Drop a small amount of liquid nitric acid in a tiny scratch on your coin or bar and wait for a chemical reaction to take place. Fake gold will turn green.
Test silver using acid and a touchstone. Rub your jewellery on the touchstone for five seconds or so, then cover the rubbed area with nitric acid. If the acid turns red/brown, it is silver.
Use A Precious Metal Analyzer
Although this may cost more than the other options above, this professional option gives you quick, easy, and accurate precious metal testing in the comfort of your home.
Every analyzer has different benefits, but some of the more-common features include abilities to detect counterfeit precious metal coins, rounds and bars; measure the sub-surface of the bullion; check for plated bullion; safe for the bullion since it does not involve chemicals or cleaning products; and it also is fairly uncomplicated.
If you have a few more dollars to spend, go all out with XRF spectrometer devices that use X-ray fluorescence technology. These are much more sensitive to measure and analyze elements in your materials.
In today’s digital world, many of these can work with your mobile phone or desktop computer. Purchase the analyzer best suited for you and your needs to ensure 100% accuracy.
Royal Bull Guarantees Authenticity of All Precious Metal Products
Keep in mind that as the security features on coins and bars continue to frustrate con artists, so does the technology that fraudsters use to make counterfeit precious metals. Be vigilant!
Every product available on the Royal Bull website is backed with our 100% authenticity guarantee and inspected by our precious metals team. If you have questions about buying or selling precious metals in Canada, reach out to our team at any time.