Jewelry Tips – Differences between Real vs. Fake Gold

Have you ever wondered if a piece of jewelry you had, was real, or fake? I’m sure a lot of us have either received some gold jewelry as a gift, had some pieces passed down to us from relatives, or purchased gold jewelry from auctions, estate sales, and weren’t quite sure if the pieces were real. By American standards, fake gold is anything less than 10 Karats. If you’re wondering whether your gold is real, the most reliable way to find out is to take it to a certified jeweler and have it tested. If you want to check it for yourself, here’s a list of tips to tell if it’s real or fake.

FAKE Gold Herringbones, Ropes, Figaro Chains

  • Shiny, plastic-coat, brassy look
  • Usually only one stamp “14k” on one tab ( REAL chains have markings on both tabs saying the kt content and a manufacturer’s stamp)
  • Sometimes the plated color has worn off; you see the base metal…it’s like yellow runs into brown metal or vice versa
  • The o-ring behind the lobster will not be soldered (real chains have the o-ring soldered; fake chains can’t b/c the heat from the torch used to solder the o-ring closed travels through the metal fast. Fake chains would melt)

FAKE Gold Earrings

  • The post/wire etc. that goes into ear will be base metal colored and the rest of the earring will be gold tone in color; they won’t match

FAKE Gold Rings

  • The shank will show signs of wear, usually the plating has worn off and the base metal beneath shows through
  • They will have stamps of HGP (heavy gold plate) HEG (heavy gold electro-plate) GF (gold filled) or “10k” “14k” no manufacturer’s stamp or no markings at all

FAKE Gold Bracelets

  • They will have stamps of HGP (heavy gold plate) HEG (heavy gold electro-plate) GF (gold filled)
  • They will show signs of wear, usually the plating has worn off and the base metal beneath shows through
  • most bangles will have a fraction and then “GF” Gold Filled; ex: 1/5 GF

FAKE Gold Add-A-Beads

They will not dent easily; 14k beads dent by the smallest squeeze, fingers, teeth, pliers, etc. FAKE ones are like lead in being hard and resisting any pressure

Other methods:

Use a magnet
Gold is not magnetic, but many of the metals that are often used in fake gold or gold plating are. If your jewelry is attracted to the magnet, it’s not 100% pure gold. However, if it isn’t attracted to the magnet, it is still not necessarily real.

All of these methods can be useful ways to see if your gold jewelry is made of real gold or fake. However, they will not give guaranteed answers or tell you the quality or carats of the piece. To be certain, bring your gold jewelry to a certified jeweler.

Blog post by ~ Jelene

(Fake Gold Jewelry Tips by Kellie)

54 thoughts on “Jewelry Tips – Differences between Real vs. Fake Gold

    • Please bring your ring by one of our Satterfield’s Jewelry Warehouse stores and have our jewelry expert take a look at it. We cannot tell for certain without seeing it in person.

  1. Hi!! i just bought a “14k gold charm” and i’m a little confused because instead of only have 14k it said 14KN..what’s that mean?

  2. I have a gold chain. Its several years old but not tarnished or losing color. No markings n a magnet will pick it up. Does it sound fake?

  3. Probably a stupid question but does ALL real gold have markings? I have Necklaces That look real and are not magnetic but have no markings. Any suggestions will help.

    • That’s a great question actually! Most people think that gold jewelry must be stamped in order to make it authentic, but sometimes this is not the case. In short, no, a stamp does not guarantee that a piece is really gold. In the US, however, there is a law that mandates that all gold jewelry sold by a vendor must be stamped marking the item’s karat number. The best guarantee that a piece is actually gold is to test it for purity or buy it from a reputable jeweler. For your necklaces, you could bring them by one of our stores and have our jeweler check it’s authenticity for you.

      • Under the fake gold ring section it says that piece may have no markings at all and now here you say that most people think that gold jewelry must be stamped in order to make it authentic but sometimes that is not the case.So you need to clarify what no markings on jewelry really means.

      • Hello Hellygio – The best way to determine that your piece is authentic gold, is to take it by your local trustworthy jeweler, to have them test it. There can be many reasons why gold jewelry might not be stamped… It could be an old antique piece that was never stamped, its stamp could have worn off, or it could be made outside the US. In short, no, a stamp is not a guarantee that a piece is really gold.

    • 18k contains a higher percentage (75%) of pure gold than 14k gold (58.3%) and is also softer. There’s a chance that your watch is real 18k gold, however if it was gold plated, it should have a GP stamped on it. A 750 stamp also indicates 18k gold. What brand is the watch? To make absolutely certain, you can bring it by one of our stores and have our in-store jeweler take a look at it.

  4. Hey I have a ring my dad bought me from Vietnam he told me it was 18 k but the only markings on it is HC 600 can you tell me if it’s real or not?

    • The HC could possibly mean the maker’s mark and the 600 could mean around 15k gold. 14k is listed as 583 or 585 and 15k is listed as 625 in fineness. To make certain, you could always bring your ring by and have our jeweler take a look at it.

  5. I have a pair od gold hoop earrings…there is no stamp or markings of any kind. Also No a magnit does not pick them up. How can i tell if they are real gold?

  6. I found a bangle bracelet that is stamped 22k only on the inside of the bracelet its not faded in any spots at all what ways can I make sure it is real if I don’t have a magnet

  7. I have a gold chain I bought a year ago it looked like it faded a little bit but not being picked up by a magnet…what should I do?

    • Real gold is pretty heavy, so there’s a chance that your piece is real gold. Does it have any markings on the piece? You could bring by your piece of jewelry to one of our stores and our jeweler could examine it for you.

  8. Hi, do u guys have a store in Rochester NY? because i have a 14k gold that i want to make sure that is real gold, do i have to pay money for u guys to check it out?

  9. Hey I had this bracelet for 4 years now it hasn’t changed one bit its pretty heavy and has a marking on the back of this piece to attach the bracelet together the marking says 14kt .N.W. Is it fake?

  10. Hiya, I have a bangle that I can’t see any markings on other than 0.15?? There are stones in the bracelet could that relate to those rather than the ‘gold’? Thank you.

    • Hello Lindsay, the 0.15 could refer to the ctw of the stones in the bangle. If it’s not marked it may mean that it’s under 10k gold. You could take it to your local jeweler and they could test it for you.

  11. I have rope 14kt gold chain. On one take it has a large 14kt on the flipped side it had large Italy stamp on the other tab it has a very little triangle not even close to the other stamps does that seem like it’s forged? The o ring is also not soldered onto the lobster the lobster has a 585 stamp on it

    • 585 stands for 14kt Gold, which is 58.5% gold. The Europeans use a slightly different method to reporting the percentage of gold on their jewelry. You could bring it by one of our stores to see if it is indeed 14kt.

  12. My 18k Two_Tone Wedding Band has a 18k stamp on the inside, I took a it into ramsdens they said there isn’t a hallmark on it just 18k please cold you help me what does this mean thanks

  13. I have dealt in gold for years and I was wondering if you have come across this. In the past 5 years the Chinese have developed a process in which silver is covered with “hard” nickel and then heavily overlayed with 14K. The items have the 14K stamping and actually the clasps are true 14K. The rest is not. The hard nickel keeps the base silver, having a very fine molecular structure, from migrating to the gold. The best of jewelers have been fooled and I, too, bought some of this. The normal gold testing does not work as it will test all day and into the night as 14K. You have a wonderful site and was just wondering if you were aware this was going on…Thank you

    • Hello Jeanette, I think you are speaking of “non reputable” places you can buy jewelry. I know there have been many different “scams” to have jewelry look like gold out of non gold items- it is intended to fraud customers or more recently people buying gold from customers. It weighs SIGNIFICANTLY more than a gold piece does, so it can be very costly if bought as gold.

    • It may possibly be a vintage piece, as older jewelry does not have any marks stamped on it. Is the piece attracted to a magnet? If you’ve done the magnet test and still aren’t sure if this piece is gold, you could bring it by one of our stores and have our jeweler take a look at it.

    • Hello Jennifer, I think you meant “Figaro” chain. It’s probably tan color because of the piece being gold plated. Sounds like the gold plating is coming off and you can see the metal underneath. You could bring it by one of our stores and let our jewelry expert take a look at it.

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