Fake jewelry isn’t new. It’s been around for centuries. For example, silver is often sold as white gold, and some nefarious individuals even carve fake hallmarks into pieces to “trick” unsuspecting buyers.
Because of all the fakes “out there,” it’s important to know what to look for and what to consider when you are ready to purchase earrings, a necklace, bracelet, ring, or any other piece of jewelry.
If you want to have confidence that the jewelry items you purchase are real, our guide will help. Keep reading to learn more about what to look for and consider when trying to purchase real jewelry items.
Look at the Markings
One of the first things to look at when determining if the jewelry is real is the markings. It’s important to know what to look for because many metals look the same to the untrained eye.
Usually, jewelry will carry markings that tell what type of metal they are made of and the purity of the metal.
An example would be with a 10k gold ring. In this case, the “10k” would be found on the ring. It is placed on the back of earrings, and for bracelets and necklaces, it’s close to the clasp, on the tag, or a link.
The mark you see depends on the type of metal used.
For sterling silver, you will see one of the following:
- .925 stamp
- Sterling stamp
There may also be a 925 stamp, which means the silver is made of 92.5% silver.
Gold has different markings than silver. Some of the most common include:
- A “k” or the word “karat”
- 10k gold may have .417 stamped on it
- 14k gold may have .585 stamped on it
- 18k gold may have .750 stamped on it
Other types of jewelry may be marked, as well. For example, if you purchase Tiffany brand jewelry, it will have a “Tiffany” stamp on it. Sterling silver jewelry that is made with gold plating is marked “Vermeil.” A platinum piece of jewelry will have a “platinum” or “plat” stamp on it.
It’s important to know that the marking alone isn’t enough proof to feel confident you have found authentic jewelry. In some cases, testing the metal is the only way to know, for sure, if it is real.
Ceramic or Magnet Test
You can test gold to determine if it is real by using a strong magnet. With this, you can see if it is as pure as it was advertised to be. If an item is gold-plated, a metal is used underneath that causes the magnet to stick to it. Real gold won’t stick to a magnet.
Unfortunately, this isn’t 100% accurate. Some jewelry is made out of metal that won’t stick to magnets.
Are you ready to know how jewelry is made and find quality options? If so, we have the information you are searching for.
The gems that are used for replica jewelry will not be real. They may be simulated gems, rhinestones, plastic, or crystals. After you look at the markings on the metal (and test it if needed), you should have a good idea if the stone is real or not. You will never see fake stones in real jewelry.
Spotting Fake Gemstones
It’s challenging to determine if a gemstone is real or authentic. To tell the difference by just looking, you need a good eye.
However, there are some tips you can use. For colored stones, start by looking at the color. If you have a ring with what is supposed to be a sapphire, but normal sapphires don’t come in the color you see, you can feel confident it is fake.
You can also inspect the stone’s cut. For example, there are situations where it will seem too even. This type of even cut means a machine cut it and that the stone is glass.
Flaws or impurities in the stone are a good indication it is real. For sapphires, you can also rely on the fog test. If you believe a sapphire is actually glass, you can breathe on it and allow it to fog up. The fog will disappear quickly on real sapphires because the stone doesn’t hold water. For glass stones, the water vapor will be held onto, and it will remain foggy for around five seconds.
Look for Signs of Wear
There are parts of jewelry that will rub against the skin when it is worn. Be sure to check these areas for discoloration. If jewelry is gold-plated, the gold may wear away, and the real metal will be seen under it. Also, if you wear something that causes your skin to turn green or that causes some other type of reaction, it probably means the metal is not real silver or gold.
You can also hold the item under a bright light. Plated jewelry will have a tint that is visible in the worn areas. Today, the fake metals used for jewelry looks like white gold or silver have rhodium plating over them. This is the material that makes them appear white and shiny. However, if you look at the jewelry under a light, the worn areas will appear yellow.
Special Tests for Precious Gems
Using fake gemstones is not a new concept. Some stones look exactly like a true gem until an expert eye examines them. Here are some tests to tell if you have a genuine precious gemstone.
Due to their beauty, diamonds are one of the top stones faked on the market. While some people do purchase replica diamonds on purpose, you should know whether you have an authentic stone or not. A natural diamond will never "fog" up. Genuine diamonds have high thermal conductivity, but glass does not. If the stone fogs, there's a good chance it is a fake diamond.
If you want to determine the authenticity of an emerald stone, it should be examined under a magnifying glass. With a genuine emerald, you will not see any spiral or tubular patterns inside the stone. A natural emerald will always feel cool to the touch since it is a poor conductor of heat.
Any type of genuine pearl jewelry will be expensive. If you find a piece at a low price, it might contain a fake stone. For those who want to check the authenticity of a pearl, you can use your teeth. When you try to bite the pearl, it should creak like sand. An artificial pearl will not have those same qualities.
Amber is another prized gem. You can test the stone by placing it in a glass of salt water. You don't need much salt - about three tablespoons will do. If the item is made with plastic, epoxy resin, or glass, it will instantly sink to the bottom. When you have genuine amber, it will float because it is less dense than salt water. You can also rub the amber with wool to see if it creates an electric shock and attracts small dust particles to the surface.
Conducting Tests for Metals
Like gemstones, you can also use a few tests to check the valley of the metals.
You can use chalk to test the authenticity of silver. If you place chalk on the surface and it darkens, you have a real piece of silver. You might want to use a sulfuric ointment to check silver. The ointment will turn dark blue on the piece's surface when it has real silver. Don't worry; you can remove that blue spot with a quick cleaning.
Use iodine to check your gold pieces. If there is straining after placing the piece in iodine, then that is a sign of alloy metal. Any fake gold will darken in vinegar. Place the item in a glass of vinegar for about five minutes. If you see any darkening, it is a sign of fake gold.
You can also test these metals with iodine. A drop applied to the surface will stay dark. If it lightens up, the item does not have a high concentration of platinum. Ammonia will cause the surface of most metals to blacken. However, if it's genuine platinum, you will not see that reaction on the metal.
Real vs. Fake: How Do You Know for Sure?
Telling the difference between real and fake jewelry is challenging. A good place to start is with the tips and information above. Evaluating the jewelry yourself will help you get a good idea if it is real.
If you still aren’t sure or confident in your assessment, take it to a jeweler. A professional will have the tools and experience to let you know, for sure, that your item is real or a replica.
Do you want to know what you are buying without a doubt? If so, be sure to check out our huge selection of jewelry pieces. You can also contact us to learn more.
Related: How to Tell if Jewelry Is Real