How Can I Tell If It’s Gold
Question / Inquiry: I was given a box of things about 5 years ago and have been moving it around my basement. My son saw it and said some of the things look like gold. So I wired wheeled them to make sure they were not plated. I then grinded them on the side and they are the same color all the way through. I then bought some muriatic acid which is suppose to be the same as nitric acid. I ground a grove in them and dropped some acid on the groove and there was no chemical reaction or color change. Does this mean they are gold. I put the items on a scale and it total 1740 grams. I sure would like some insight in this matter.
You certainly were thorough with your investigation and the information you’ve provided me which is always helpful. The first thing I always tell people to do is to perform the magnet test, if an item sticks to or is attracted to a magnet it is not karat gold. If the item is not attracted to the magnet that doesn’t mean it is karat gold but anything attracted is definitely not.
I assume there are no hallmarks on the items? If not that seems odd that that amount of jewelry would not be hallmarked so they may be plated, we have a page on gold hallmarks if you require some further information on them. If indeed it is karat gold 1760 grams is quite a sizable amount and would add up to nice payday depending on their karat.
Putting a notch or grinding at least 1/8″ deep is a good idea, since you mentioned you’ve done this and it appears to be the same color and consistency that sounds promising but a lot of gold plated jewelry is plated on copper and it would be very difficult to see the difference by eye.
I am not sure if muriatic acid and nitric acid are the same, I was under the impression that muriatic acid and hydrochloric acid are the same. The acids we use to test for different karats of gold are a combination of Hydrochloric Acid and Nitric Acid, they are mixed at different strengths for different karats, we have 10k, 14k, 18k and 22k strength gold testing acids.
When I use acid to test an item that is not hallmarked to see if it is karat gold or plated I will use a file to make a notch approximately 1/8″ deep then apply some of our gold testing acid on the notch, if it is plated you will see a bubbling green reaction with is the acid reacting to the copper, again we use a combination of Hydrochloric Acid and Nitric Acid.
So how can I tell if it’s gold? In conclusion I would say to try first check for hallmarks (maybe you’ve already done so), secondly see if any of the items are attracted to the magnet, if they are you can put them aside as plated. Thirdly, the only way I could give you a definitive answer is to see the items in person so I could test them myself. If you wish you could send me a sample, if you’re interested in sending a few items as a sample let me know and I’ll provide you with further details.
Thanks for your note, hope to hear from you again,