If a private party is offering gold jewelry for sale, you may be interested but a little leery on whether or not the piece is real gold, especially if there are no markings. Even if the surface tests positive for gold, you may worry that the piece is plated. If so, use the following tests to help you tell the difference between gold and gold-plated jewelry.
1. Drop the Jewelry in a Glass of Water
Although gold is a soft metal, it is also very heavy. Since it is heavier than most metals used to make costume jewelry or even used underneath gold plating, you can try to determine whether the jewelry in which you are interested is real gold by doing a simple test with a glass of water.
Fill a glass until it is almost full of water. Then, drop the jewelry into the water to see whether or not it floats or sinks. If it floats, the jewelry is usually gold-plated since the underlying material is made from a different metal than gold. If it sinks straight to the bottom, it is most likely made from solid gold.
However, you may find that the jewelry sinks to the bottom, but it starts to bob up and down a little bit. This can make it difficult to determine whether or not the gold is solid or plated. If this happens, perform the test in the next section.
2. Use a Magnet on the Piece
If you are still unsure about the jewelry's gold content after using the water test, or if you are unable to use a glass of water, there is another test that you can try using a magnet. Since gold is not magnetized, it will not stick to the metal at all.
If you place the magnet on the piece and see that the jewelry either pulls up slightly or sticks to the magnet, the piece of jewelry is more than likely made from a different metal with a gold plating. If the jewelry were made from solid gold, the piece will not move even the slightest bit when exposed to the magnet.
Even if you try the tests above, you may still be unable to determine whether the piece is real gold or gold-plated. If this is the case, take the piece to a jeweler before you buy the gold jewelry to seek their assistance. For more information about gold jewelry, visit a site such as aaronsignature.com.