5 Ways to Tell if Jewelry is Gold-Plated

by SouthFloridaJewelryBuyers

Do you want to sell gold jewelry but you aren't sure if it's real or gold plated? Here's 5 ways to check if your chain or ring is gold plated or the real deal.

Have you decided to sell gold jewelry you have sitting around at home? If so, it's necessary to understand how the gold purity of this jewelry affects its value. A lot of jewelry is also just gold-plated to give the appearance of real gold. This type of jewelry is not very valuable and very difficult to sell. Want to find out if your jewelry is real gold or just plated? Here are some easy ways to find out.

Image credit: Tyler Ingram

1. Look for a Jewelry Stamp

The first step is the easiest way to identify gold plating before you sell gold. Start by looking for a jewelry stamp or hallmark somewhere on the piece. It will be located on the clasp if it's a chain or bracelet or inside of a ring. By law, jewelry manufacturers must put some indication on the jewelry to signify gold plating and gold purity. A stamp of 14k or .875, for example, signifies real gold. If you see a stamp that says "GS," "GF," "GEP," or "GP," the jewelry is not real gold. These letters stand for gold shell, gold filling, gold electroplated and gold plated and signify costume jewelry.

2. How Does Your Skin React?

In the absence of a stamp, how does your skin react when you wear the jewelry? Gold that's mixed with nickel or jewelry made from nickel with gold plating causes your skin to discolor. A lot of people are actually allergic to nickel and their skin will turn a greenish color. Real gold will never cause this reaction.

3. Has the Jewelry Itself Discolored?

If you've had the jewelry for some time, has the color changed? Gold plating on chains and bracelets doesn't fall off, but it does begin to recede into the base metal over time as it's a heavy metal. This discoloration is a sure sign of gold plated jewelry, which won't fetch much if you want to sell gold jewelry.

4. The Magnet Test

This is another really easy test to figure out if your gold jewelry is real. Hold a magnet to the chain or ring. Is it attracted to the magnet? If so, it's probably gold plated because gold is not magnetic.

5. The Acid Test

This test can be done by yourself or you can take your jewelry to a gold buyer to do the test for you. Use a tiny file to make an inconspicuous scratch somewhere on the jewelry. Place a single drop of nitric acid on the scratch and look for a reaction. A green color signifies the jewelry is probably gold plated because real gold will not react. A milky color means the base metal is probably sterling silver with a gold shell.

These methods will help you determine if your chain, ring or bracelet is actually valuable before you contact a gold buyer. Along with these at-home tests, you can always take your jewelry to a reputable jewelry buyer who will use accurate acid tests to make sure the jewelry is real gold. Sometimes the store will charge a fee, although it may be waived if you decide to do business. Finally, remember to get multiple offers when you sell gold to get the best price. Check out gold buyers, pawn shops and jewelry buyers in your area to get the best deal. If you live in Florida, check out South Florida Jewelry Buyers to sell gold in Miami and surrounding areas.

Updated: 09/18/2012, SouthFloridaJewelryBuyers
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Rose on 01/15/2014

I didn't know about the magnet test, nor that gold-plated jewelry had different stamps on it - a very useful article.

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