This particular post is based on an inquiry I had from a young man that was interested in buying his first gold coin but was a little nervous at the beginning as he was buying it from an individual and not a well established dealer.  If you are just getting started buying gold coins you may have some of the same questions.

I am interested in buying my first gold coin, one guy I was going to buy a gold coin from told me he uses an electronic tester to make sure they are real gold, what method do you recommend?

I don’t know how many coins you are buying but if you are buying 24k bullion coins for your personal investment and aren’t buying them from places like Flea markets you should be fine with a magnet, acid test and an accurate scale.

  1. Use the magnet, make sure the coin IS NOT attracted to the magnet.
  2. If it’s a one ounce maple put it on your scale and make sure it weighs what it’s supposed to.
  3. If you are buying Maples etc just scrap a small sample on the testing stone and check it with 22 or 24k acid.

You can buy an electronic tester but I would still use an acid test if you are nervous, just depends what you have faith in, I have seen electronic testers fooled by heavy gold plate but not by acid.

One other thing you should do in know the what the weight of coin you are buying, weigh on a decent quality digital scale to verify it’s weight, this will give you another way to check the coin’s legitimacy.

Would then the electronic testers selling for $100 be on par with the quality of reading gold accurately? Or is it better to buy the more expensive equipment?

I have only experimented with an electronic precious metal tester in the $400 range, it seemed to work fine but I always rely on acid testing as electronic testers have been know to give false readings, perhaps that has changed over the last few years as it seems more and more people use them. I have been buying metals for over a decade and depend on acid testing and an xrf  machine for scrap bars.

Doesn’t scraping the coin on a testing stone take away from some of the value? Won’t that affect the grade of the coin?

Yes it would if it is a collectible or numismatic coin, if you are buying Maples or even Krugerrands that are for bullion investment I wouldn’t worry about it but if they are collectible grade then not you should scrap them on a testing stone.

Okay so is it alright to file coins about as deep as the rim of the coin without losing its investment value? (excluding collectible grades) I read on your website that it is good to file about 1/8 inch deep to see if the piece is heavy gold plated or not.  I filed down the coin because I saw spots of copper on my 99.9 gold coin which made me wonder if it was possibly alloyed. As I noticed in the article on your website; copper is not magnetic. So if my piece had small spots of copper on the outside as well as being non magnetic – there was no other way to verify if it was or was not alloyed with copper unless I dug in rim deep to pour acid over

I wouldn’t file investment coins, a scratch test will do, I wouldn’t pay investment price for a filed coin but a scratch test will not leave a mark noticeable enough to prevent you from reselling them as Maples, Krugs or whatever you’re buying.

If you’re that worried about the coins being counterfeit buy them from more reliable sources.

How come 24k solutions are so hard to find? It’s almost as if they don’t exist. Could yo recommend where I could be able to find some?

24k acid isn’t readily available any longer, don’t worry about it and just use 22k acid, it will do fine.


Thank you John for all your help. I have more confidence in investing gold. Actually; even though I filed rim deep of the coin; I am happy to know I thoroughly tested the coin. Even though you consider I should find a reputable dealer if I am having doubts about who I deal with – it seems fine as it is because I went through all the various stages of testing the
product. I am just glad I got an opinion by someone who wasn’t trying to sell me anything.

I tested it with a magnet, scratched some coin on testing stone, poured acid on the fallen particles, poured acid the entire coin, and filed inside to test deeper with acid. I can’t say I am in frustration after I had gone through all of this for my first gold purchase (even though at the time that is how I felt). I can finally sleep at night.
Thank you John.

Additional Information:

If you are interested in buying your first gold coin you can also have a look at our beginners post on buying gold coins for more information.  You many also be interested in checking out our post on the best gold coins to buy before you start your journey, good luck!


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