How to tell if it is real gold?

Written by melissa schack
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How to tell if it is real gold?
Solid gold is always 10 carats or higher. (harper-3d/iStock/Getty Images)

Finding out whether a gold object is real or not is important if you want to make sure you got what you paid for and vital if you suffer from a metal allergy. Any metal jewellery, coins or other decorative items that contains less than 42 per cent gold (10 carats) can't legally be sold as real gold and instead must be described as gold-plated.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Look for a small hallmark stamped on the gold object. If it doesn't have a hallmark, it's probably not real gold.

  2. 2

    Wear the jewellery. If the piece turns your skin black or green, then it does not have enough real gold in it and is probably just gold-plated.

  3. 3

    Look at the item with a critical eye. If it looks like bad craftsmanship or appears cheap, then it probably has a low quantity of real gold. Check any clasps or connections to see if any have turned black or green, which indicates fake gold.

  4. 4

    Buy from a jeweller with professional accreditation.

  5. 5

    Bite your gold -- it should make a slight mark. The softer the coin or jewellery is, the higher the carat. However, this doesn't work if the gold hasn't been cleaned properly.

  6. 6

    Take the jewellery or coin to a quality assurance lab and have it x-rayed if you want to be sure.

Tips and warnings

  • Real gold will feel heavy in your hand compated to other metals.
  • All gold items must stamped with the correct carat rating.

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