How to tell if gold is real

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Whether you’re looking to sell some old jewelry or you’re just curious, here are some tips on determining if your gold is the real deal.

Look for any numbers or letters

Some gold jewelry and coins will have an imprinted number somewhere on it. This is the “marking” that tells owners the percentage of gold the piece contains. Depending on the grading system, the printed number will be between 1 and 999 or 0K and 24K.

In addition, some gold coins or accessories might have letters printed on them. This is usually the case if your gold is plated, meaning it’s mixed with a thin layer of another metal. GP, GF, and GEP are three common letter indicators that the piece is plated and not pure gold. It doesn’t mean the gold itself is fake, but it won’t be accepted by jewelers.

Keep in mind that if the piece is particularly old, the number or letter may have been worn off or maybe there wasn’t even a number to begin with. Different countries adopted the practice of marking gold at various points in history.

Check for signs of wear

Gold is a metal that’s on the softer side, so it’s not uncommon for it to show signs of wear. If you’ve got old gold coins lying around, check the edges for signs of worn metal. With gold accessories, there might be signs of wear and tear on the inside of a ring or bracelet, or the back of a necklace. If the gold is worn off, but you see another metal underneath the coating, it means your piece is plated and won’t be accepted as real gold.

These quick at-home tests are useful, but if you really want to know how much your jewelry and old coins are worth, take them to a professional jeweler. They’ll be able to get a more accurate reading on the piece and appraise it properly.

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