Gold Testing Guide: Non-Destructive Vs Common Vs Destructive Gold Testing

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Gold is one of the prime embodiments of aesthetics and elegance. For centuries after centuries, it has dictated the notion of luxury.

As a gold collector or gold ornament owner, it’s crucial for you to be able to spot whether your gold is pure or it is plated or maybe a fake.

Gold has diverse types due to different texture, color, and fineness features. In this article, you are going to be facilitated with some demonstration methods and a guide on how to test gold-filled metal and quantify its features.

So from now, you don’t need a jeweler to spot the difference anymore, because you will know how to test the authenticity of gold [further reading: The Best Electronic Gold Tester Of 2022] by yourself!

Gold Testing

Non-Destructive Gold Testing

You can derive accurate yet fast analysis of your Gold through testing it by non-destructive gold testing methodology. Testing gold with an electronic tester or a magnet are some of the ways,

  • Testing gold with a magnet

It is one of the easiest methods you can utilize to learn how to test gold filled metal. Bring the magnet close to your precious metal of gold. One of the attributes of gold is that it doesn’t stick with a magnet, because it’s a non-ferrous metal. So if it attracts your metal, it is definitely fake.

However, this methodology of testing gold with a magnet is not precisely accurate. Even if the magnet attracts your material, it doesn’t automatically mean it is real, because even non-magnetic metals are used in counterfeit pieces as well.

This process also doesn’t tell you about the quantity of karat or about the fineness of the material. Make sure to read the following methodologies as well to know other techniques on how to test gold filled metal.

Testing Gold with an Electronic Tester

  • Testing Gold with an Electronic Tester

Usually, an electronic tester contains an integrated camera and x-ray beam collimation. You can analyze your gold material with it. This provides you with an optimal output about the karat quantity within seconds and tells you about the fineness of your gold.

Anything below 10 karats is considered non-gold material. So you can check it pretty easily and tell if it is a fake. You can look out for machines such as Delta Alloys and Metals Handheld XRF Analyzer, Delta Element, GoldXpert Mobile Analyzer, etc, which are prevalently available in the market.

Put your gold on the surface of it, follow the simple protocols on machine instructions and you will get accurate results. These non-destructive methodologies are very popular because it provides you with accurate yet the quickest result with no complexity.

It gives you an automatic karat quantification with almost 0 error. You don’t have to worry about the uneven structure because it easily quantifies even on an uneven surface. Apart from all these benefits, a special mention has to go to its large data storage. This helps you to use the result in future reference and also helps you to do comparison.

The fascinating digital reporting system provides you with immediate certification, which is very crucial if you are looking forward to selling it, or you are curious about the materials worth.

Common Testing Procedures

  • Basic Needle Testing

This is one of the primeval yet popular gold testing methodologies. The tools required are primarily a testing stone, a 14 karat gold testing needle, and gold testing acid. Firstly rub the material you are willing to test with the testing stone. Then tenaciously press it and make sure to leave a visible mark so that you can accurately test.

Get yourself a 14-karat needle and leave a similar scratch or mark. Make sure its a similar scratch or deposit you are crafting. The last step is to drop in gold testing acid. Focus and thoroughly check the speed at which the scratches are dissolving as soon as acid strikes them.

Use a stopwatch and compare the time precisely. If the scratch-made by the material you are testing dissolves quicker compared to the needle scratch mark, it is a lower than 14 karat gold. If it dissolves slower than the needle scratch mark, then it’s a higher karat gold material.

  • Testing by comparison

It is very similar to the method explained above. Except that here instead of using a gold karat needle, you would use an item that you already know how much gold content it holds. Then you’d compare the dissolving time.

Testing Gold by specific karat values

Repeat the same steps of basic needle testing. Now, specifically use 14 karat gold testing acid on the marks. Check that your 14 karat needles mark won’t disappear however if the mark made by the material contains less than 14 karat gold then the mark would faint and slowly fade away.

Destructive Gold Testing

To learn how to test the authenticity of gold, you must learn about destructive gold testing. It is a nice and technical methodology of testing.

Destructive Gold Testing

  • Direct Acid Test

Take the material, grind a thorough and deep cut through the metal using a jeweler’s file. Make sure you place it on an acid safe surface. Carefully drop a 14-karat acid on it.

Carefully observe the reaction. If the cut bubbles with deep green bubble, then it is a copper or some other metal plated gold. If there are some green bubbles after 10 seconds, then it is probably a 9-karat gold.

However if after 10 seconds the cut transforms brown, and green bubbles are absent, then the item is 10 karat gold.

  • Testing Metal Shavings

This method is only applicable if you suspect that your material is less than 10 karat gold. Make a cut on the material and take metal shavings from its interior and directly put drops of acid. If the streak fades away completely then it’s less than 10-karat gold.

  • Inside Metal Scratch Test

You will need a jewelry cutter, a jeweler’s pliers, a testing stone surface and 14 karat gold testing acid. To perform this, make a cut through the ornament using the jewelry cutter all the way through it.

Take your jewelry pliers and open the gap wide open.  Rub the interior on the testing stone surface, and leave a mark on it. Leave a drop of 14 karat acid onto the scratch mark. If the cut bubbles with deep green bubble, then it is a copper or some other metal plated gold.

If there are some green bubbles after 10 seconds, then it is probably a 9-karat gold. However if after 10 seconds the cut transforms brown, and green bubbles are absent, then the item is 10 karat gold.

Knowing the purity of gold is extremely crucial and you need to ensure you don’t undervalue or overvalue the gold content in it.

So to properly evaluate and quantify the fineness and differentiate between fake and real, you must internalize these methods and learn how to test gold-filled metal and how to test the authenticity of gold using a gold tester.


Welcome, everyone! Karl D. McGrath is an American Blogger and philanthropist based in the charming town of Thomasville, Georgia. As the founder of Ready For Ten, he is passionate about sharing his love for family, kids, home improvement, tools, outdoor activities, and kitchen gadgets with the world. With a natural talent for storytelling, Karl's writing style is warm, engaging, and down-to-earth. He has a gift for making even the most mundane topics come alive with his humor and wit, which has earned him a loyal following of readers who appreciate his honest and relatable voice. When he's not tapping away at his keyboard, Karl can be found spending time with his beloved wife, kids, and close friends. He is deeply committed to giving back to his community and works closely with several charities to make a positive impact on people's lives. Above all, Karl has a passion for making people laugh and feel good, whether it's through his writing, his charitable work, or simply sharing a joke over a cup of coffee. He is a true embodiment of the American spirit, and his dedication to family, community, and kindness is an inspiration to us all. If you would like to chat with him please feel free to reach out via facebook or twitter or email.

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