The Jewelry Box Blog

How to Tell if Gold Jewelry is Real

on May 18, 2022 8:26 AM
How to tell if gold is real

You’ve been given a pair of gold-toned hoop earrings—and you love them! But you suspect the metal isn’t real gold, but perhaps brass or some other alloy. How can you be sure either way? Use these tests to find out if your glittering jewel is genuine gold.

How to Tell if Gold is Real

Gold Isn’t Magnetic

Toi Et Toi Greenwich St

If that new “gold” ring is attracted to your most powerful kitchen magnet, it’s not real gold. That’s not to say that if your piece doesn’t cling to the magnet, it’s 100% real (silver and other metals also aren’t magnetic). The magnet test is simply one way to test for gold content. 

Gold Sinks in Water

Here’s another easy one: gold is one of the densest metals, so a gold piece will almost always sink in a bowl of water.

Learn how to clean gold jewelry! >>

Buy Some Nitric Acid

Jewelers often use nitric acid to test their gold. Basically, gold won’t react to nitric acid, but all other metals will turn greenish. Don’t douse your jewelry in the acid—just put it in a stainless-steel dish and use a dropper to drop or Q-tip to test a tiny section. If your jewel doesn’t react to the nitric acid, you have a real gold piece (14k or higher). But procuring nitric acid may be more trouble than it’s worth when you can simply…

Ask Your Local Jeweler

If you ever have a question about jewelry, ask your local jeweler! Jewelry retailers can tell you definitively what those hoops (or ring, or necklace, or bracelet, or candlesticks) are made of. Many professionals use expensive, specialized equipment to do so, including electronic or thermo-testing and X-ray fluorescent analyzers that can detect every element in a piece of jewelry, from copper to platinum. Happy discovering!

If you do have real gold jewelry, make sure that precious piece is insured! Jewelers Mutual covers every day life, such as loss, theft, damage and mysterious disappearance, which means you can wear your jewelry without worry. Get a jewelry insurance quote in under a minute by clicking the button below. No personal information is required.

Get a Quote


Photo: Greenwich St. Jewelry Moi et Toi gold and gemstone ring (courtesy of brand)