How To Test Gold Jewelry At Home

a pile of gold necklaces, earrings, and bracelets on a white table

Gold jewelry is a brilliant complement to just about any outfit. While you may love the appearance, there’s an underlying question of just how real your gold jewelry is.

Gold is a material that can be pretty affordable or quite expensive, depending on the grade. For example, gold flakes are edible on the lower end of the price spectrum. On the other hand, high karat gold rings fetch thousands of dollars. Are you wondering how much your gold jewelry costs?

Our guide will teach you how to test gold jewelry at home properly. You’ll learn the differences between authentic gold, gold plating, and gold alternatives. We’re proud to offer authentic gold necklaces, earrings, and bracelets to save you both time and effort.

Common Misconceptions About Gold

Can you tell if gold is real or fake at a glance? Unless you’re an experienced industry professional, judging by sight is quite challenging.

On the plus side, low-quality gold still looks very lovely and is a great choice for budget-conscious fashionistas. On the other hand, you may get worried you’re shelling out too much money for a gold pretender. While gold mining production has dipped a little in the past few years, the overall demand for gold remains consistent. 

The brilliance of gold ensures this material remains a common choice for elegant jewelry and high-ended furniture alike. Spotting authentic jewelry is helpful if you want to sell or insure your items.

Related: Affordable Gemstone Alternative for Engagement Rings

Tip #1: Keep in Mind Gold is Not Magnetic

The easiest way to tell if your gold is real is to use a magnet test. Unlike cobalt or nickel, gold does not respond to magnetic waves.

While you may want to use a toy magnet or a refrigerator magnet, these are usually not strong enough. We recommend you use one from a hardware store to test your jewelry. Hold your magnet up to your gold jewelry and see if it moves. If it moves even slightly, you have fake gold karats on your hands.

Does that mean jewelry that doesn’t move is real gold? Not necessarily. There are still other metals that also don’t attract magnets.

Tip #2: Dig Around for Gold Authentication

Pure gold goes through a rigorous testing and authentication process in the United States. This authentication comes in the form of an official stamp, which you may need a magnifying glass for.

What do these stamps look like and what do they say? The function of a gold stamp is to inform you of the karat size, which comes in the following degrees:

  • 10k
  • 14k
  • 18k
  • 22k
  • 24k

If your gold jewelry does not have a visible stamp, never fear. Very old jewelry might have the stamps rubbed off or removed during a polishing process. After looking for a stamp, double-check your gold jewelry for any green discoloration or peeling. These signs are a surefire way to determine if you have real gold or cheap gold plating.

Our gold jewelry is made with authentic 24k gold, such as our Boho Babe Necklace.

Related: 10 Gorgeous Emerald Earrings to Check Out

Tip #3: Weigh Your Gold to Double-Check

One of the best-known facts about pure gold is just how heavy it is. This rare material is soft, yet highly dense.

You won’t be able to use your bathroom scale for this tip. Purchase a jewelry scale and use it to weigh the pieces you suspect are not real gold. This technique is much more effective if you have authentic gold jewelry to compare your potential fake jewelry to. 

Related: Popular 80s Jewelry Trends

What makes handmade jewelry stand out? We believe it’s a firm attention to detail, beautiful designs, and authentic materials.

a gold necklace with a large pendant curled on a white table

Tip #4: Dunk Your Jewelry in Water

This tip may seem strange, but it’s pretty simple and effective! Dunk your jewelry in a bowl of water to test its authenticity. Real gold is a very dense material and will sink instantly.

Fake gold jewelry (or jewelry with very little gold) will float a little. Remember that real gold also cannot rust. If you’re still concerned your jewelry is fake, make sure to wipe it off immediately.

Tip #5: Reach Out to a Professional for an Examination

If all of these tips have yielded uneven results, consider reaching out to a gold professional. These workers have years of experience analyzing, grading, and selling authentic jewelry.

With a small fee, you’ll be able to determine the karat grade of your jewelry. You’ll also learn useful information about your jewelry’s design, origin, and other materials used to make it. This tip is best for people who are considering selling their jewelry or who want to insure their jewelry.


Hold a piece of gold jewelry in your hands for a few minutes to do the skin test. The sweat and oils from your hand will react with the metal and alter the color of your skin, or your skin will remain unaffected. 

When you are holding real gold, there will be no discoloration. However, if you are holding fake gold, your skin will turn green, blue, or black where it contacts your skin.

An exception to this rule is if you are wearing any liquid foundation on your hands. If gold touches the makeup, it will turn your skin black. Therefore, it's a good idea to ensure you don't have any residual makeup on your hands when performing the skin test. 

Gold is a nonreactive metal, so authentic gold jewelry will never cause skin discoloration. If you see discoloration, there is an alloy with other metals beyond gold mixed into it. 


The lighter test is frequently done by pawnshop owners who have to verify that the gold presented is authentic. You can do the lighter test in several easy steps:

  1. You'll need a lighter with a constant flame that's large enough to hold comfortably, like a long utility lighter. Make sure the lighter has plenty of fuel with plenty of lighter fluid.
  2. Hang the jewelry on a piece of metal or other non-flammable material, or use pliers carefully.
  3. Apply the lighter's flame to the piece of jewelry for a minute or so. If the metal starts to darken, chances are the metal isn't gold. 

When real gold is exposed to flame, it will brighten as it gets hotter, not darken. However, fool's gold and other fake golds and pieces made of iron, brass, or copper alloys will darken or change color when exposed to fire. 

Also, if the piece of jewelry is gold-plated, the thin gold plating could begin to melt, revealing the inner metal. Finally, the fire test with less than 18k gold can produce inconsistent results, so when in doubt, it's always best to confer with a professional.

Tip #8: The Ceramic Test

We've put the ceramic test on the list last because if done improperly, it can damage your piece of jewelry. However, if you scratch your piece, it can typically be repaired with a little bit of polish. If you're unsure about doing any of these tests, it's best to take your piece to a professional jeweler to verify its authenticity. 

However, when done correctly, the ceramic test is another simple test that only takes a little time to do. You'll need an unglazed piece of ceramic, like the bottom of a plate. This test will not work on glazed ceramic.

Carefully drag your piece of gold back and forth across the piece of ceramic until it creates a streak. If you see a gold streak, then your piece is genuine gold. If you see a black or dark-colored streak, then your piece is not made of gold. 

two gold bangles filled with blue stones on a gray table


Learning how to test gold jewelry at home means understanding the material. Gold may be soft, but it’s very heavy, dense, and rust-resistant.

Gold does not respond to magnets, nor does it float in water. If you wear a lot of jewelry, you may want to buy a jewelry scale to measure your items with. When in doubt, reach out to a jewelry professional for a high-quality assessment.

Unique jewelry reflects the deepest parts of your personality. Contact us today for personalized and handcrafted rings, necklaces, and bracelets.