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How to Tell Real Gold from Fake

You can uncover a treasure at yard sales and flea markets if you know how to tell real gold from fake. Follow these tips to learn how to find your pot of gold.


  • Step 1: Bite the gold Bite down onto a gold coin or jewelry piece. Fake gold will not dent at all on a bite test. Real gold will, but so will some newer methods of gold plating.
  • TIP: Store gold jewelry separate from jewelry with diamonds, or the diamonds might scratch the gold. Wrap gold in tissue paper or store it in a separate jewelry box.
  • Step 2: Look for a stamp or other marking Examine the surface of the gold item to see if you can find a stamp or other marking that indicates a carat value. American-made gold items will have this type of mark, but items from other countries may not.
  • Step 3: Examine the surface of the item Examine the surface of the gold item, looking carefully for any green or black spots that may be visible. These markings indicate fake gold.
  • TIP: Pay particular attention to edges and clasps when examining the surface of the gold, as this is often where the discoloration appears.
  • Step 4: Feel the weight of the gold item Hold the gold item in your hand, and pay attention to the weight. Real gold is very dense and heavy, but fake gold will feel lighter.
  • Step 5: Consult with an expert Consult with a jeweler or metal exchange expert to confirm the authenticity of your gold item. They can also help you determine a value for your new find and help you know whether you did indeed find real gold.
  • FACT: In 1848, James Marshall found a few flakes of gold at Sutter's Mill in California. During the next seven years, nearly 300,000 people traveled to California to seek their treasure and look for gold.

You Will Need

  • Gold coin
  • Gold jewelry
  • Jeweler or metal exchange expert
  • Tissue paper or jewelry box (optional)

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