How To Test Gold
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GOLD - A BACKGROUND
Gold, whose chemical symbol is Au, is malleable, ductile, and its high thermal and electrical conductivity as well as its resistance to oxidation make its uses innumerable. Malleability is the ability of gold and other metals to be pressed or hammered into thin sheets, 10 times as thin as a sheet of paper. These sheets are sometimes evaporated onto glass for infrared reflectivity, molded as fillings for teeth, or used as a coating or plating for parts. Gold's ability to be drawn into thin wire (ductility) enables it to be deposited onto circuits such as transistors and to be used as an industrial solder and brazing alloy. For example, gold wire is often used for integrated circuit electrical connections, for orthodontic and prosthetic appliances, and in jet engine fabrication.
Gold's one drawback for use in industry is that it is a relatively soft metal (sectile). To combat this weakness, gold is usually alloyed with another member of the metal family such as silver, copper, platinum, or nickel. Gold alloys are measured by karats (carats). A karat is a unit equal to 1/24 part of pure gold in an alloy. Thus, 24 karat (24K) gold is pure gold, while 18 karat gold is 18 parts pure gold to 6 parts other metal.
SO HOW CAN WE TELL IF IT'S REALLY GOLD? These steps can help you determine if your gold is real, and possibly what the true purity is. There are many suggested ways to test gold, and these are some of the most common:
Step 1: Rub the piece of jewelry across a piece of unglazed porcelain tile. It should not make a black streak. If it does then it is pyrite.If the streak is golden yellow then it is gold. Unglazed porcelain tile can be found at a hardware store.
Step 2: Use the Moh's scale to determine the hardness of the metal. Gold has a hardness of about 2.5 to 3 on the Moh's scale. Glass on the other hand has a hardness of 5.5 on the same scale. Try scratching glass with the piece of gold. If it scratches the glass, it is definitely not gold, or is mixed with other metals and the purity is very low.
Step 3: Hold a magnet near the piece of gold. If the magnet attracts the gold piece, then there are other metals mixed in the gold. This is not pure gold.
Step 4: Purchase hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid, rubber gloves, and protective eyewear from a hardware store. Use something like a small piece of glass to drop a very small amount of acid onto the gold. If the gold begins to dissolve, then there is some other type of metal mixed with the gold and it is not pure.
Step 5: Purchase a gold testing kit from Gold Fever Prospecting. Gold Test Acid Solutions, Gold Test Needles, Gold Testing Stones, Watch Batteries and a large selection of Jewelery Supplies.
PURITY OF GOLD Having the ability to test the purity of gold is important for anyone who is involved with buying or selling gold. A jewelry item that is stamped as 10k, 14k or 18k does not mean that it actually contains that type of gold. It is a reality that fakes exist in the gold market, particularly since gold jewelry has virtually no regulation or oversight. Sometimes a lower quality of gold will be stamped with a higher grade marking, or other times it may not be gold at all, but rather layered with gold in such a way that it is not immediately apparent that it is a plated item. To protect your investment against forgeries and to make sure you are getting the gold you pay for, it is important to test the purity of the gold. There are simple methods you can do at home without sending your gold away to an assayer’s office.
Procedures For Testing Gold, Platinum & Silver Using A Gold Testing Acid Kit:
To test for the karat value of gold, platinum and silver, you will need the following materials and tools:
- Black acid testing Stone that is washed thoroughly with water prior to each test. - Acids - Gold testing needles with gold tips used for comparison with test pieces.
All above Gold Testing items are available from Star Struck, LLC as part of a Gold Testing Acid Kit.
Testing For 10K, 12K, 14K
Scratch the gold piece to be tested on the stone. Next to this position, scratch the appropriate needle (10, 12 or 14K). Place a drop of the appropriate acid on the stone where the gold was rubbed off. If the gold is the same karat or higher, the color of the scratch mark for the gold piece will appear the same as the mark from the needle. If that gold piece is a lower karat, the scratched deposit will become fainter and eventually disappear.
Testing For 18K
Scratch the test piece on the stone and apply 18K acid. Any gold that is less than 18K will disappear in less than 30 seconds. Gold that remains on the stone is 18K or higher.
Testing For 20K & 24K
Scratch the gold piece on the stone. Next, scratch any item of known karat (coin or needle) on the stone. Apply one drop of acid to area. The material that starts to disappear first has the lower karat.
Testing For Platinum
Scratch the test item on the stone and apply one drop of acid to the application on the stone. If the material is platinum, it should keep its white, bright color. Testing For White Gold
The same procedure for platinum can be used for 18K white gold. The material on the stone should start changing to a light bronze in about three minutes. For 14K white gold, the material on the stone should disappear in 15 seconds.
Testing For Silver
Place a drop of acid on the object to be tested. 90 to 100% silver, the acid will show a creamy color. 77-90% silver, the acid turns a gray color. 65-75% silver, then the acid will show a light green color.
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