Many people are interested in how to test gold for purity. But how pure can you expect gold jewelry to be in reality? And how can you find out a jewelry item’s actual gold content? Let’s see what works in gold purity testing and what doesn’t.
What Is Pure Gold?
It is commonly accepted that gold that is not mixed with other metals is referred to as pure.
This necklace is plated with 24-karat.
The purity of gold is usually measured in karats. 24 karats is the highest purity possible and corresponds to about 99.9% gold content.
Pure gold is very soft and malleable, and has an intense yellow color.
Is Gold Jewelry Likely to Be Made of Pure Gold?
Because of its softness, pure gold is rarely used to make jewelry.
Items made of 24K gold bend very easily, and this is why pure gold is not a good choice for pieces that will be worn as adornment.
Not to mention that any settings made of pure gold would wear out pretty quickly, making it easy for any stones in them to fall off.
The gold that is used to make jewelry is actually a gold alloy – a mixture of pure gold and other metals, which are added in to make the alloy harder.
So, almost all gold jewelry is not actually pure .
Testing Gold for Purity
Usually, gold jewelry comes with markings stamped on it that indicate what its karat is.
If there are no marks or if you just want to check whether the gold is as pure as it is claimed to be, you can test it. There are different methods, but the most reliable one is acid testing.
- Acid Testing
You can have your gold tested for purity at most jewelry stores.
The jeweler will scratch the gold on a testing slab to take a sample of it and will then pour some acid (usually nitric acid) on the sample to see how it reacts.
Depending on the chemical reaction observed, the karat of the gold can be determined.
- Other Methods to Test for Gold Purity
There are other methods to test the purity of gold that have become popular. However, despite their popularity, they are actually close to useless.
Biting a gold piece is said to be a good indicator of whether it is real, as gold is a very soft metal. However, there are many other metals that are also soft and can be covered with gold plating to make them look like gold, so biting them won’t show you conclusively whether you’re dealing with gold.
It is also said if a gold piece is not attracted to a magnet, this is a proof that the item is actually made of gold. However, there are many other metals that are non-magnetic, which can also be plated with gold and will not react to a magnet.
The best way to determine the purity of a gold item is to test it with acid and also make sure that the piece is not made of another metal covered with a thin layer of gold