Your Guide To Identifying Fake Gold
Buying brand new gold jewellery is always an exciting occasion, whether it’s a sparkling new piece for you or a treat for a loved one. However, if you choose to shop with a non-reputable or untrustworthy jeweller, the gold you’re buying could actually be fake. To the naked eye, plated gold can look just like authentic solid gold and, even when handling it, you may not be able to tell the difference.
Whether buying your jewellery online or in person, it’s possible that you are unknowingly buying gold-plated jewellery at the price of solid gold. It’s important to know how to tell the difference between solid gold and fake gold to make sure you only ever purchase the genuine article.
Shopping with a reputable retailer, such as Hatton Jewellers, will ensure that every piece of jewellery you purchase will be crafted from high-quality, solid gold rather than a piece of jewellery made from non-precious metals. One of the ways we help instil confidence in our customers is by providing a certificate of authenticity and ensuring that all of our gold features an official UK hallmark, so you can rest assured you’ll only ever purchase solid, real gold through us.
In this piece, we’re going to take a closer look at the difference between fake and real gold, and how to spot gold-plated pieces.
What Is Fake Gold?
Fake gold, often known as plated gold, is predominantly crafted from a metal such as copper, brass or another “cheaper” metal that is then coated in gold. This gives the appearance of solid gold, though the thin layer of gold can easily become chipped, completely ruining the illusion of an expensive piece of jewellery. Tarnishing can also be an issue, with parts of the jewellery likely to become worn over time, exposing the non-gold metal hiding underneath the plating.
If your jewellery is gold plated, it will appear as a much brighter yellow colour than solid gold jewellery. This is because solid gold jewellery is alloyed with another metal to make it stronger (pure gold is an extremely soft and malleable metal), however, this slightly dilutes the natural bright yellow colour.
As fake gold pieces feature a thin layer of real gold as a coating, this won’t be alloyed and instead, the gold will retain its pure bright yellow colour. Although you may think this sounds like a positive, the bright yellow colour won’t stay looking beautiful for long. As the gold hasn’t been alloyed, it is typically weaker and more susceptible to wear and tear. This distinct difference in colour is one of the key ways to tell the difference between fake gold and solid gold-plated jewellery.
What is fake jewellery made of?
Zinc, aluminium and lead are some of the most popular metals to be used as a base for fake gold. Brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, is also used as it more closely imitates the yellow colour of gold, making it appear as though the gold jewellery is lasting longer.
Other metals may also be used, which can make fake gold easier to spot as a result. For example, if the metal used is magnetic, you can simply use a magnet to check your suspected fake gold. Solid gold isn’t magnetic and even though it's alloyed, the content of the metal alloy will likely be too low to react to a magnet.
The difference between real and fake jewellery
“Real jewellery” generally refers to solid gold jewellery with legitimate gemstones, not fake replicas. This doesn’t mean that cheaper costume jewellery that you might buy in a clothes store is “fake” though, as it is advertised as exactly what it is. Customers who like costume jewellery know what they’re buying and aren’t being misled by the retailer labelling it as solid gold.
The term fake jewellery really comes into play when gold-plated jewellery is being sold as solid gold and the price tag would suggest that you’re paying for a lot more gold content than you would actually be getting.
How To Test The Authenticity Of Your Jewellery
If you’ve purchased gold jewellery and are sceptical about whether or not it is solid or plated gold, there are a few tests you can do. Of course, the first step we would recommend is checking for hallmarks and conducting research on the seller you bought your jewellery from. This should give you a much better insight as to whether your jewellery is solid or plated without having to even touch your jewellery!
There are other tests you can do, such as the magnet test. This shouldn’t be used as a definitive method, though, simply because the base metal used for a gold-plated piece may not always be magnetic. As solid gold isn’t magnetic either, this test will give you no conclusive results.
Overall, although there are tests you can do, the best way to check whether your gold jewellery is authentic or not is if it features a hallmark or comes with a certificate of authenticity.
The Best Ways To Spot Fake Gold
Knowing how to spot fake gold is crucial as it will help you ensure you’re only spending your money on authentic, solid gold pieces you can treasure for a lifetime.
As fake gold mostly consists of a metal that isn’t gold, this can be used to your advantage when trying to spot counterfeit jewellery. If the piece has been chipped or damaged, it’s likely that the metal beneath will show through and cause some discolouration. However, if the piece is new and seemingly faultless, using a magnet is a quick and easy way to catch any potentially fake gold jewellery.
If you attempt to pick up your gold jewellery piece with a magnet and it sits tight, it’s good news as solid gold isn’t magnetic. However, if the jewellery sticks to the magnet, your jewellery has been manufactured from another metal that has simply been coated in gold. It is possible that the base metal which has been used to create the gold-plated jewellery isn’t magnetic either, so don’t take the results of this test as gospel.
A hallmark is used to determine the authenticity of gold and is required to be featured on any gold piece that weighs over 1 gram. This means that if your piece of gold jewellery weighs above this and doesn’t feature a hallmark, then it is almost certainly not crafted from solid gold.
Hallmarks are stamped on authentic gold by the British assay offices and feature on every solid gold piece of jewellery we sell, so you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that you’re always buying legitimate jewellery from us.
The price tag on a piece of gold jewellery you’re interested in will also give you some indication as to whether or not it’s real or fake. If it looks as though you’re getting a “great deal” on an otherwise expensive piece of gold jewellery, the likelihood is you’re paying for what you’re getting… and that won’t be solid gold.
Fake gold can often be masqueraded as real gold and sold at a lower price by shady sellers. Once you see this red flag, you’re betting off taking what you’d spend on the fake jewellery and putting that towards a gorgeous new authentic piece of solid gold jewellery. If you’re concerned that the price of the jewellery may not reflect the quality, ask to see an authenticity certificate or hallmark.
Generally, solid gold will weigh more than gold-plated pieces and will therefore feel noticeably heavier when you pick it up. This is because cheaper metals are typically lighter, giving you a clear indication of whether or not your jewellery is legitimate.
Learn more in our guide outlining 5 Ways To Spot Fake Jewellery.
How To Spot A Fake Rolex
For decades, one of the most popular gold accessories has been a watch. A watch is a truly timeless piece that not only looks stylish but has practical uses too. There are many brands which produce stunning watches, though Rolex has become one of the most recognisable names in the watch industry due to its stylish collection of sophisticated watches.
Sean Connery was the first Bond to sport a Rolex (the Rolex Submariner) with the brand later being worn by Roger Moore, George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton. It was these icons of cinema that helped popularise Rolex and thus inspire generations of suave gentlemen to don one of the brand’s exceptional timepieces.
One thing that wouldn’t be described as very “James Bond”, though, is wearing a fake watch. So, to help you stay true to the character, we’ve got some tips that will help you spot a knock-off Rolex.
Knowing what the serial number is and where to find it on the watch can be useful in quickly determining whether or not the watch is real. An authentic Rolex will have a serial number, which starts with a letter and is succeeded by numbers, engraved into the case (commonly found on the six o’clock side), behind where the band connects to the watch’s body or behind the glass, around the dial with newer models. This specific location and engraving can set a real watch apart from the fake as it’s unlikely a copy will replicate the exact positioning of the serial number on an authentic Rolex watch.
If you were to search online for the serial number of your Rolex, you should be able to find out the production date of your specific watch. If the serial number doesn’t show up, it has most likely been fabricated for the counterfeit replica.
One of the most noticeable features of a Rolex is the magnifying lens (specifically by 2.5 times) positioned over the date. As a result of this feature, you should be able to feel the bump of the lens when running your finger across it. It has been known for some owners to have this lens removed so if you’re buying second hand, you may need to discuss the lens with the seller.
As with most counterfeit items, a fake Rolex weighs much less than a real one, with it being noticeably different when in your hand. Using the serial number you should be able to conduct a search and find out the exact weight the watch should be, and you can then use this measurement as a benchmark to compare against your own.
How To Spot Fake Iced Out Jewellery
Iced out jewellery has become one of the most popular styles of chains, rings and more, thanks to the hip-hop industry. Rappers, R’n’B singers and other modern-day artists have brought gemstone-laden jewellery into the mainstream. However, as it features a plethora of stunning diamonds and other gemstones, iced out jewellery is generally a particularly expensive style.
This has led to fake iced out jewellery being created and paraded as authentic. To make sure that you don’t waste your money on a counterfeit iced out piece, we’ve outlined a few key ways to spot a fake.
Certificate of authenticity & the 4 Cs
If you’re buying a solid gold iced out piece of jewellery, it should come with a certificate of authenticity. This should confirm the legitimacy of the gold and diamonds which are featured. In the certificate, the 4 Cs of the diamond should be stated - these are the carat, colour, clarity and cut.
The fog test
Genuine diamonds will disperse heat quickly, so one quick way to check the authenticity of your iced out jewellery’s diamonds is by breathing onto them. If the fog clears quickly, your diamonds are likely to be real, but if it sticks around for longer than 5 seconds, your piece probably isn’t adorned with real diamonds.
As diamonds are at the top of the Mohs scale of hardness, they can only be scratched by other diamonds. This means that if the diamonds on your piece become scratched, it’s likely that they are a different gemstone entirely.
Learn more about how to spot fake iced out jewellery in our comprehensive guide.
The Importance Of Hallmarks
Hallmarks act as the official stamp of authenticity, as regulated by the British Hallmarking Council. This ensures that when legitimate gold is being marked, it has been officially tested by a reliable source. Hallmarks can also reveal the purity of the metal, for example, the hallmarks gold can receive are:
- 375 - 9 carat gold
- 585 - 14 carat gold
- 750 - 18 carat gold
- 916 - 22 carat gold
Each jewellery hallmark has a different icon and corresponds to one the four UK houses’ assay offices. These are Birmingham (anchor), Edinburgh (castle), London (lion) and Sheffield (Yorkshire rose). Understanding each of these hallmarks will allow you to easily determine the authenticity of your jewellery.
To discover more, check out our blog on understanding jewellery hallmarks.
Advice On Choosing A Reputable Jeweller
Choosing a reputable jeweller is the most effective way to ensure the jewellery you’re buying is authentic. Even if you’re carrying out other authenticity checks, a shady seller could be what stands between you and the solid gold piece you’re looking for.
Carrying out some research on the jeweller, reading their reviews and checking the fine print on their website should be just a few of the essential steps you take before investing your money with them. You should also check if the jeweller holds any professional accreditations, as trusted high street jewellery retailers should belong to the National Association of Jewellers (NAJ). If they have no accreditations or customer reviews, it’s best to take that as a warning sign and continue your search.
At Hatton Jewellers, we ensure the Assay Assured logo is on all of our product listings. Our team is always available to answer any questions you may have, providing total transparency with our customers. We also ensure that all of the jewellery we sell features a hallmark stamp and comes with a certificate of authenticity to give you complete peace of mind.