Is this stuff real gold or fool's gold?
Also see below for how to test karat quality of gold and silver.
We get asked this question quite often so we prepared some tips below. Don’t be discouraged, keep looking – finding your first few flakes will ignite your gold fever!
Is it real gold?
If what you found was glittering right on the surface without digging down it sounds like you might have mica or some other type of disappointing “fool’s gold”.
Here are some quick tests to check if you found real gold.
Sun Test: Once you have seen your first Gold you will never forget it. A quick and easy test is to note the color and brightness of the gold in your gold pan. Now shadow your Gold pan. Anything that is not Gold will become dull or fade. Gold will retain its color and luster – it will still be golden, just Gold in the shade.
All that Glitters isn't Gold: Remember that song, well the truth is simple. If it glitters it probably ain't Gold. Look at the material in the sunlight if it is all a glitter it is a 99.999 chance it is not gold.
Pin test: stick a pin in the “gold”. If it breaks or fractures or crumbles it isn’t gold. Gold is malleable and ductile meaning you can bend it and dent it. Lesser minerals will crack, break or crumble.
Pan test: One of the first things to learn about gold is it is very heavy. Gold really doesn't move around in your pan much. After panning your material down to your final cons, rock your pan back and forth with a little bit of water in the pan. You will find that the Gold will mostly stay put, while other light weight material moves away. As the light material moves away tap your pan lightly on the top edge. This will separate the heavy gold even further from the waste.
Consider the source and location. If you found your “gold” on top of other dirt it probably isn’t real gold. Gold is extremely heavy and will always seek the lowest place to rest - often on top of bedrock or other hard material such as clay or limestone.
To see your own gold consider trying one of our practice panning bags – not only will it teach how to pan (you can use it over and over again) but it will show you what real gold looks like. Once you see the real deal you’ll always be able to recognize it again.
Best of luck,