How to spot Counterfeit Gold and Silver

Fake Gold Sovereigns

Often times people come into pawnshops thinking that their gold and silver coins, jewelry, watches, silverware, etc., are truly valuable and real gold and silver. We hate to break this to you, but often times it is not. A lot of the time it is just a plate, which means it is a thin layer of silver or gold over copper. It isn’t always their fault though; in fact they probably were told by the wise-guy that sold them the item that it was 100 percent real.  This is a common occurrence, but there are ways to test to see if it is true gold and silver or not.

One of the easiest ways to determine such things (at least in terms of jewelry and watches) is to look at the carat indication markings. Jewelers always mark their items with a gold quality stamp. There are two marks to be looking for. First, look for the karat quality stamp, which will read anywhere from 10K to 24k. Obviously, the higher the karat amount, the better the quality of the gold. The other thing to look for is a three digit number usually .333 and up. The aforementioned number indicates the amount of pure gold used.

Silver is similar. You see, real silver will have a three-digit number also. It will usually be anywhere from 800 to 950. If it is 800 it means it is 80 percent silver, if it is 925 it is 92.5 percent silver, and so on, and so forth. Most of the silver in the United States is sterling, which is of the 92.5 percent variety.

Unfortunately people have insane counterfeiting skills and can still fake these markings. The only true way to tell if it is real is by using acid. Please leave this to professionals though, DO NOT TRY AT HOME. Anyways, if you have a slate rub your gold or silver on it and the acid will reveal rather it is genuine or not. Real gold will stay on the slate; just a gold plate will diminish. Silver will turn a blue color on the slate while a silver plate will stay blank.

Some other kind of quirky ways (but not necessarily surefire) to test your items is with a magnet or by the weight. For said magnet test you’re going to need more than just that picture magnet hanging on your refrigerator. If you have a relatively strong magnet, lay your item a flat surface and run the magnet around it. If your item moves even slightly towards the magnet chances are it is fake. In terms of weight, a real silver dollar ways about 27 grams, while a fake will only weigh around 19 grams. Of course weight may vary slightly, but this is a good general rule.

These are all good ways to make sure your items are legitimate. Not only do you want to make sure you get the money you deserve for the item, but you always want to make sure you didn’t waste your money on it. Again, if you want to do the acid test please take it to somebody who is experienced in testing silver and gold – um, like your friends at Garden City Exchange.

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