You’d love to own a fancy gold chain, but you don’t want to overpay for one, and you happen to find one you like. The price is right, but you hesitate. Is it a fake? Needless to say, you have to know. Here are some considerations.
It Could Be Gold-Plated
You can examine the piece very carefully in good light to determine if there are any signs of wear such that the underlying metal shows through. A gold-plated or gold-filled chain has a thin coating of gold which is easily scratched or worn off. The underlying metal or alloy will be made of non-gold materials. Thus its worth is not as great as solid gold.
Ironically, the plated or filled necklace may appear as very bright gold, because the thin covering is actually a high karat gold. If it were solid gold, the price would be much higher.
The Genuine Article Should Have a Stamp
The chain ought to have a stamp such as 10K, 14K, or higher karat value, indicating its purity in terms of pure gold, which is 24k. It won’t have 24k, though, because pure gold is too soft for the endurance needed in gold jewelry. So if you’re after solid gold, it will be a gold alloy, meaning the gold is mixed with other metals in certain proportions. This proportion is what the karat stamp denotes. If the stamp is something like GP or GF, it is gold-plated or gold-filled, and not solid gold.
The stamp may also be expressed in a number, such as 583, which stands for 14 karats, or the number of parts per thousand of pure gold, 1000 being as pure as it gets.
Acid Testing and Magnetic Testing
A reliable test to determine the gold content of any jewelry is to apply nitric acid to a tiny sample of the metal. Any jeweler can apply this test, or you can buy a gold testing kit and do it yourself, as long as you exercise care in handling the acid.
Trying to find out using a magnet is not recommended, for several reasons. Although gold is non-magnetic, the alloy may have other metals which are magnetic. This would give you a false reading. And there are some other metals besides gold which are non-magnetic, for example copper, zinc and titanium. So, while popular as a gold testing idea, this method is not reliable.
In the final analysis, you are the one who has to be satisfied with your purchase, so make sure before you buy. Then you will enjoy your chain for many years to come.