How to Tell if Jewelry is Real Gold

gold bars with hallmark


Do you own gold jewelry and wonder if it’s real? Did you pay a lot of money for your jewelry but question its authenticity? We’ve got a list of methods that can put your mind at rest and help you tell if your jewelry is real gold.

Some of these methods are quick and easy, while others are a bit more involved (and might damage your jewelry forever). So round up your gold, and let’s see if it’s real.

Look for the Hallmark

If the gold metal is authentic and of good quality, it will have a stamped marking, called a hallmark. The hallmark indicates the purity of the metal content by branding the certified carat weight of the gold. The hallmark can be extremely tiny, so you may need a magnifying glass to find it. A hallmark of 14K would indicate that the jewelry is 14-carat gold.

Hallmarks can be found anywhere, but they are generally found on:

  • Back of a pendant
  • Clasps
  • Earring backings
  • Inside a ring, bracelet, or pull-out clasp

If you find a hallmark, it is the best way to authenticate if your gold is real. And most real gold jewelry must have a hallmark to be certified.

Related Link: What is Rose Gold? Everything You Need to Know

Liquid Foundation Makeup Test

Seriously, this is a real thing. Although, it isn’t as certain as finding a hallmark. Apply liquid foundation makeup to your skin (on the back of your hand is a good spot). Rub the gold jewelry across the foundation. If the jewelry leaves a black mark on your skin, it’s probably fake.

Kind of wild that this works. Although it just gets foundation all over your jewelry, so maybe leave this as a last resort test. Or else you’ll need to get out your jewelry cleaner too.

Water Test

Gold is heavy. If you fill a glass of water and place your gold in the water, gold should sink to the bottom. If the jewelry floats, then it is probably gold-plated and not real gold. If your gold also starts to show signs of tarnish or rust, then it’s gold plated instead of real gold.

Obvious Food for Thought: If there is a legit risk that it could tarnish, you’ll have to decide if it is worth doing this water test.

Vinegar Test

Another legit household test is to use white vinegar. Pour vinegar into a glass. Do not dilute. Put the gold into the vinegar and let it sit for about fifteen minutes. When you remove the gold, wash it under water.

If it is real, the gold will shine. If it changes colors, then it’s fake. But this is a risky test because it can change the look of your jewelry if it is fake.

Need a statement piece to elevate your next look? Check out LaCkore’s best-selling artisan jewelry.

Related Link: Sterling Silver vs. White Gold: Which is Right for You

Magnet with screws

Magnet Test

Real gold is not magnetic. So if a magnet can tug or pull at your gold, then it’s not real. But we need to be clear that you can’t just do this test with any old magnet off your fridge. Those magnets are not nearly strong enough to pull through the gold plating.

To properly do this test, you’ll need a rare earth magnet. Most people do not have one of these magnets lying around. So you’re probably better off using a different method for authenticating your gold jewelry.

Use Nitric Acid

Another super practical test is using nitric acid. (This brings into question why we are even mentioning it, because most people don’t have nitric acid at home. And if you do, you’re probably on some watch list because it can be used for explosives. But we are thorough people. Covering all the angles.)

This is acid, so use proper safety gear and know that this will probably damage your jewelry. But if you put a drop of nitric acid into a cut on the metal, it will do one of two things:

  1. Turn Green: It’s a fake.
  2. Turn Milky: Then it’s gold.

But let’s be honest. Don’t do this method. It’s more of a science experiment than a valid gold test because it will harm the metal.


How do you test gold with a lighter? Now you may think we’re just giving you reasons to burn stuff. So it’s kind of a twofer, but the lighter test does work: 

  1. Get a good butane lighter with lighter fluid. You can’t just use a basic ordinary lighter you found on the ground at that last music festival you attended. It needs to hold a tall, constant flame that’s wicked hot—otherwise, the test won’t work.
  2. Hang your jewelry on something that isn’t flammable. A nail or metal hook would be a solid choice. You want to hang it, so you don’t burn your precious fingers or ruin your mani. Priorities people!
  3. Light that flame. Place the flame just below the jewelry and hold it there for about a minute. 
  4. Watch for a color change. If it gets brighter in color, it’s real. If it gets darker, it’s fake or mixed with other metals. 

Keep in mind that you are torching your jewelry. If there’s a chance that it’s fake, then the flame might distort or damage your jewelry. Just saying, it might be a risky test.


You can use ceramic tile to test if your gold jewelry is authentic. This may be as practical as an acid test because you must scratch your jewelry to verify whether it’s gold. But we’re in too deep now with the crazy whack ways you can test if gold is real. 

For this test, you’ll need to:

  1. Get a ceramic tile that isn’t glazed. If you have a glazed tile lying around your house, too bad. It won’t work. You have to head over to your home improvement store to get an unglazed ceramic tile. 
  2. Gently scrape the gold against the tile. Now don’t be a hero and go all Hercules on this tile. Nice and easy, so you don’t damage the jewelry. You’ll want to keep scraping until gold flakes off the jewelry. 
  3. Observe the scratch marks. If the mark on the tile is dark or black, it’s fake. If the scratch has a gold tint or streak, it’s real gold. 

Related Link: The Difference Between White Gold and Platinum Jewelry

Common Types of Fake Gold Jewelry

There are loads of scammers out there trying to pass fake gold for the real thing. Here are some common types of fake gold that can often pass looking like real gold jewelry:

  • Gold Plated: A cheap metal is used as the main metal and then has a thin coating of gold on the outside of the metal. 
  • Pyrite: Also known as “Fool’s Gold,” pyrite is a shiny gold metal often mistaken for gold. Pyrite tarnishes black or green over time.
  • Pinchbeck: An alloy of copper and zinc, pinchbeck looks very similar to gold and is often used for costume jewelry or as a replica. Pinchbeck bends easily, making it easier to spot.
  • Gold Wash: This is sterling silver with a thin coating of gold. But at least it’s an upgrade from gold-plated. 

Want trendy gold statement pieces to pair with your outfit? Check out LaCkore’s bestselling jewelry.

Related Link: Ways to Wear Jewelry Like Celebrities

The Fail-Safe Method: Go to a Jeweler

I know, it’s weird, right? But actually taking it to a professional will definitely confirm whether your gold is real. They won’t damage, discolor, or harm your jewelry in any way and you’ll know for sure that it is real or not. And often, many jewelers will assess your jewelry for free.

While it’s probably not as fun, it is the best bet for determining if your gold is real.

Gold Rings with hallmark

Keep it Simple When Testing Your Gold

While all of these methods may authenticate your gold jewelry, we found it’s best to keep it simple. We’d look for the hallmark. If we can’t find one, then we would take it to a jeweler to confirm whether it is real or not. Safe, simple, nothing gets damaged, and no one is put on a watch list.

Hopefully, these methods inspired you to test all your gold jewelry. Inquiring minds want to know if it is real bling. If you are looking for some new gold jewelry to accent your style, you should check out LaCkore Couture’s best-selling gold jewelry.

LaCkore Couture sells unique, artisan jewelry that can elevate your style and create a standout look. LaCkore offers sophisticated statement pieces and timeless signature jewelry to complement your everyday look.

Discovered one of your necklaces isn’t real gold? Shop LaCkore’s full line of trendy gold and silver necklaces.

Related Link: What is 925 Sterling Silver and How Do You Recognize It