How to tell if the gold you find in raw form is real?

Written by neal litherland
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How to tell if the gold you find in raw form is real?
Finding gold in the wild means you need to test it. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Prospectors the world over have spent months or even years trying desperately to find gold. There are even amateur treasure hunters and gold panners who look for gold as a hobby. No matter how serious your gold hunt is, it's important that you know how to identify what you're looking for. All that glitters isn't necessarily gold, and excitement can often twist your perspective to make you think you've found the real thing.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Carefully examine the colour. Raw gold is a buttery colour that seems to glow in the light, rather than reflecting it as a mirror would. When mixed with copper, gold can become more orange in colour, and red when mixed with iron, but the reflective qualities will remain even when mixed if there's a significant amount of raw gold in the stone.

  2. 2

    Look at how the gold reflects light. Fool's gold is glittery and bright, but if you shade it in your hand, it will become dull and drab-looking. Real gold will still maintain a diluted glow, though not as bright as it would be if in full sunlight. Fool's gold tends to be bright and shiny -- much shinier than actual gold.

  3. 3

    Compare weight. If you hold a stone of equal size and the stone you suspect has gold in it, the raw gold will be much heavier than the other stone. Gold is extremely heavy, outweighing even lead, which is a very dense element. Lighter materials that might be mistaken for gold don't come anywhere near this weight.

  4. 4

    Squeeze the gold. Gold is a soft, malleable metal. Real gold, even in its raw form, will compact like tough clay rather than break, snap or crumble. Chances are that if the element passes all of the other tests and you can still mould it in your hands, then it's real gold.

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