How To Identify Fake Gold Chains

Gold chains have been statement gold jewelry pieces for decades. A gold chain conveys confidence and style when worn by both men and women.

Many people see real gold chains as a reliable investment, as gold is and has always been so valuable. A pure gold chain can be passed down as a treasured heirloom and serve as an inherited investment for generations.

Because of the significant value of pure gold, fake gold has become prevalent in the gold jewelry market.

Unfortunately, too many times before, people have paid the price of pure gold for what is actually a fake gold chain.

We want to protect consumers against this injustice, and that is exactly what this article aims to do. We will provide you with some tips on how to spot fake gold chains before you pay the price of real gold chains.

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What Exactly Is Real Gold?

The purity of gold is measured by the karat it contains. The karat content of pure gold is 24 karat. However, many gold jewelry pieces that are said to be pure gold are not exactly 24 karats because they need to be mixed with other metals, called gold alloys, to make them more durable.

Pure gold is, in truth, a very malleable and soft metal and therefore needs to be mixed with harder metals.

Because of this reality, the international standard classified gold with more than ten karats as real gold. Gold with less than ten karats does not qualify to be classified as real gold but instead as counterfeit gold.

Three Types Of Gold Jewelry

If you have ever shopped for gold jewelry pieces, you will be familiar with the different terms used to refer to a gold jewelry piece.

Terms like solid gold, gold plated, and gold-filled are commonly encountered in the jewelry business. The difference between these terms significantly impacts the quality and value of your gold piece.

Solid Gold

Gold is an extremely soft metal that cannot readily hold its shape for a long time. To solve this challenge of durability, gold gets mixed with other metals called alloys.

We already know that real gold consists of 24 karats, so if a jewelry piece is advertised as 18K, it means that 19 of 24 parts are actually pure gold.

The most common kinds of gold alloy on the market is 14K gold, 18K gold, and 22K gold. Needless to say, the higher the amount of solid gold in a gold chain, the higher its purity.

Gold Filled

A gold-filled piece consists of a thick layer of gold bonded to a base metal by mechanical procedures that uses heat and pressure. Common base metals include brass, copper, and silver.

With the combination of the thick layer of gold and the base metal, gold-filled jewelry is suitable for daily wear and won’t fade or peel for up to thirty years.

The thicker the layer of gold, the higher the price will be.

Gold Plated

Gold-plated jewelry consists of base metals like silver, copper, stainless steel, copper, or other metals covered with just a thin layer of gold that is bonded to the surface with electricity or chemicals.

Gold plated jewelry is less expensive than its gold-filled jewelry or solid gold counterparts. Although not consisting of solid gold, gold-plated jewelry still looks authentic and valuable.

Gold plated pieces make for trendy gold chains to wear every day and make an ideal gift for gold jewelry lovers.

Are Gold-Plated And Gold-Filled Gold Chains Considered Real Gold?

The simple answer is no. Because of the intervention of other metals that aren’t gold, gold plated and gold-filled gold chains are, in fact, fake gold chains.

Bulbul Ahmed Tjnmnfmhfm0 Unsplash

Is It Worth Buying A Gold Chain If It’s Fake Gold?

Gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry are significantly less expensive than real gold chains, and they also bring across the same luxurious appearance. Although there are countless stunning fake gold chains out there, whether it’s worth buying depends on the reason you want to own a gold chain.

If you simply want a gold chain because of its trendy style, you will do well purchasing a gold-filled or gold-plated gold chain. However, if you are making this purchase to serve as a long-term investment, you should buy a real gold chain or even solid gold coins.

8 Ways To Tell If A Gold Chain Is A Fake Or A Real Gold Chain

1) Gold Markings

If you want to identify the purity of your real gold chain or check if the gold chain is, in fact, made of real gold, you can check the markings found on the clasp of your gold chain. If your gold chain is made of real gold, it will be stamped with the purity of the gold.

For example, you will find markings stating 10K, 14K, 18K, or 24K or the clasp if it is real gold. Conversely, fake gold chains won’t have any such markings. A jeweler may have engraved “KGF” or “KGP” on the clasp to indicate that it is a gold-filled or gold-plated gold chain.

Beware of unreputable vendors, though, as some jewelers engrave gold chains with markings stating the purity level even if it is fake gold so they can make higher profits off the jewelry piece.

2) The Magnet Test

A reliable way to test gold is by testing if the gold chain is magnetic or not. Real gold jewelry won’t be magnetic at all. It is definitely not a real gold chain when you hold a strong magnet over your gold chain, and the chain adheres tightly to the magnet.

Any gold chain that is more than 10K in purity won’t be drawn to a magnet, whereas fake gold, which has a high content of magnetic metals, will be strongly attracted to the magnet.

There is one issue that arises with the magnet test. Some fake gold chains and other jewelry may have a low real gold content with a base metal that isn’t magnetic. Your gold chain will then not be attracted to the magnet even if it’s not genuine gold.

3) The Water Test

The water test is essentially a density test. Place a cup of water on the table and drop your gold chain into it. If it is a real gold piece, it will sink to the bottom of the glass immediately because genuine gold is denser than water.

If your gold chain floats, it is not real gold. It is important to note that real gold with a karat weight of less than 18K won’t sink immediately. Instead, it will linger around the surface but ultimately always sink. So the time it takes for your gold chain to sink will depend on how much gold it contains.

4) The Skin Test

Have you noticed how jewelry makes your skin turn green after a day’s wear? This will not happen with both sterling silver and real gold, so if you wear your gold chain for a good amount of time and it is not real gold, it will make your skin change color.

5) Makeup Test

As odd as it may seem, testing your gold using makeup is actually a very reliable method of identifying if your gold is real. Apply some liquid foundation to your forehead and rub the gold chain over it to test.

If you notice any sign of a black streak appearing, your chain is made of real gold.

Jess Harper Sunday Tqkb Eoxfsi Unsplash

6) Nitric Acid Testing

This test is only effective with gold chains that have some existing scratches or spots. If your gold chain does not, you can make a small scrape by dragging a piece of your chain over a testing stone.

Next, apply nitric acid to the damaged area of the gold material. Nitric acid will turn the scratched area of fake gold green, or there will be a visible chemical reaction taking place.

If there is no visible reaction, your chain is made of real gold. If you see a milky substance, your chain is gold with sterling silver as its underlying metal.

7) The Vinegar Test

The same concept relevant to nitric acid applies to vinegar. Following the same steps as above, place a few drops of vinegar on the damaged area of the chain. If the vinegar changes the color of the chain, it is certainly not authentic gold.

8) Professional Appraisal Test

The most reliable way to test gold is by consulting a professional jeweler. Most reputable jewelers have a wide variety of methods to authenticate gold content.

An extensively experiences professional jeweler may take one look at your chain and be able to tell you if it is real or fake. However, technology has become so advanced that even the most experienced vendors are fooled into thinking your chain is made of real gold.

If other methods aren’t conclusive enough, a jeweler will almost always resort to machine testing methods. While the at-home methods listed above could provide you with an idea of the quality of the material, none of them deliver results without a shadow of a doubt.

Therefore, taking your chain or even just a small sample of it to a professional jeweler is the surest way of getting conclusive results.

Final Thoughts

Appearances are misleading. This is as true with gold chains as it is with people. So to prevent being scammed into thinking you’re purchasing a solid gold chain or simply a gold chain with a high purity level, don’t take anyone’s word as truth.

You now have some additional knowledge to guide you so you can perform your own tests at home. We hope this article provided some clarity regarding gold content and how to identify it. 

If this chain is your first purchase in the gold business, you can explore alternative options, such as white gold, rose gold, yellow gold, solid gold, or gold alloy. Your purchase largely depends on your budget and your purpose for owning a gold chain. 

Whatever your stance, be sure to purchase your chain from a reputable vendor who won’t take advantage of your innocence in the jewelry industry. 


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