Everyday people bring me jewelry to test to see if it is real. Well, What is real? Costume jewelry is real costume jewelry. Gold plate is really gold-plated jewelry. Perhaps a better question is “Is this solid gold jewelry?” If we are talking pure .9999 fine or 24K gold, the answer is no. Gold Jewelry is a pretty wide term too. Gold Jewelry can vary wildly in quality. From least value to most value are Gold Plated, Gold over silver, 8K, 10K, 14K gold, 18K gold and 20K gold. There is also gold that is intended to deceive the customer. This is gold that is marked as real gold but has little or no gold content. So how do we determine if an item is gold and its content? First we look to see the jewelers marks. Second we try toe exclude non gold items, then we visually test the item, then we use an acid to test the item.
Gold Plate: Gold Electro-Plate, Gold Filled and Rolled Gold plate are all names for a base metal covered with a thin layer of gold. Jewelry is usually expressed as:
GF or G.F. Gold Filled – Items marked 14K GF or 1/20 14K GF
RGP or R.G.P. Rolled Gold Gold Plate – 14K RGP or 1/40 14K RGP
GP or G.P. Gold Electro-Plate – 14K GP
GEP or G.E.P. Gold Electro-plate – 14K GEP
1/20 Gold Electro-plate 1/20 14K
Vermeil Gold Electro-pate over silver
GF or GP .999 Gold over silver
100 mils clad .999 fine More often seen in coins this is a different way to express gold plate
On gold electroplated the cost of removing the gold from the base metal is often more costly than the value of the gold recovery. On heavy rolled gold plate there can be enough gold to make removal profitable. With vermeil the Silver value is worth more than the gold content.
When we check gold one of the first things we do is to hold a Rare Earth Magnet near the jewelry. Gold jewelry is non-magnetic. If jewelry is attracted to the magnet, you can rule it out quickly as being gold. This does not mean that items that are not attracted to the magnet are gold but if an item is attracted it is certainly not gold.
Visual testing: In addition to looking at the jewelers mark, we look at the metal. You will need to invest in a jewelers loop to do this. Fake jewelry just does not look real under 10X magnification. The underlying metal will often show even on heavy gold plate. If you see a difference in the metal at wear points, it is plated. If you see green at joints or weld points copper is the base metal. The more jewelry you look at the easier it is to spot fakes and plated metal.
Acid testing: Acid testing is the traditional method that jewelers and pawnbrokers have used for hundreds of years. In acid testing you require a full set of jewelers acids. Each acid is a different strength. Basically all of the acids are a calibrated strength of nitric acid. basically the jeweler scratches three or four marks on a natural jewelers stone. The Jeweler then applies acids of varying strength to these scratches. The acid will dissolve gold streaks of gold. So if a item is marked 14K you would expect 10K and 14K acid to do nothing to the gold streak, 18K acid should dissolve the gold streak. If 18K acid does not dissolve the 14K streak, that is a problem because some specific metals will not be dissolved by nitric acid. Often times jewelry is under karated.
Under karated items are gold but are not as marked. I have yet to find any jewelry over karated. In under karated jewelry an item marked 14K will hold up to 10K acid but not 14K acid. WhY would this happen, some jewelers use deceptive practices. One well-known mall corner jewelry store is notorious for selling diamonds that are not diamonds but mosinite. Mosinte is very similar to a diamond but man-made and worth pennies on the dollar compared to diamonds. We are talking about Gold here so assume the same applies. Almost every item we have gotten from Mexico was under karated.
If you have gold to sell we will buy it. If you inherited or purchased a bunch of jewelry at an auction and want to sell it, let us know we will help you out.
Peace, Love and Guitars