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.



About Jewelry Warehouse

Jewelry Warehouse is a locally owned jewelry store that has 2 locations located in Columbia SC. We have been voted best jewelry store by the State newspaper – the largest paper in SC, for 22 years in a row. Originally founded in 1969, George Satterfield started the Jewelry Warehouse. It was his vision to always get quality jewelry but to price lower than traditional jewelry stores. After 40 years his vision has continued even after his death in 2005. With the growth and development of the internet, the plan is stronger than ever as not only does The Jewelry Warehouse still offer the best price and quality in SC, it now has the best pricing in the United States! People from California to New York now can get jewelry that is sold in the cities for significantly more, at South Carolina pricing. With a satisfaction Guarantee, buying from Jewelry Warehouse gives people everywhere a risk free opportunity to try us and save on quality merchandise.
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74 Responses to Jewelry Tips – Differences between Real vs. Fake Gold

  1. terry says:

    ok i just bought a herringbone necklace and it says 14k on one side and korea on other is it real or fake?

  2. tremeail says:

    Gold ring with 14k in the inside would like to no if real or fake

    • 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.

  3. Betty says:

    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?

  4. Kim brownstone says:

    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?

  5. brandi says:

    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.

      • hollygio says:

        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.

      • jessica says:

        If found a pendant but no marking I tried a bleach test but the color of the pendant didn’t is it gold or not?

      • Hello Jessica, If you are in the Columbia, SC area, you can bring by your pendant to one of our stores and we can test it for you.

  6. asia says:

    i see a 18k mark in my watch..does it mean its real gold or gold plated?

    • 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.

  7. Evan says:

    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.

  8. Denise says:

    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?

  9. Cindy Evans says:

    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

  10. Rayshawn Beatty says:

    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?

  11. Cynthia says:

    Can real gold be heavy r is heavy gold fake

    • 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.

  12. Frank says:

    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?

  13. Rose says:

    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?

  14. Lindsay says:

    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.

  15. Antonio Gonzales says:

    I have a gold color necklace stamped ” Korea”

  16. Jay says:

    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.

  17. Gemz says:

    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

  18. Jeanette says:

    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.

  19. Veronica Nathaniel says:

    I bought a pair of earrings label AS14K. Are they real?

  20. Steve says:

    I found a gold bracelet but it has no designs or numbers on it. Could it be gold still?

    • 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.

  21. Natasha says:

    I have a ring that is stamped 14k wco what does that mean

  22. I have a figurella necklace any has the markings 14k Italy and it is it looks like it is silver but I’m not sure because has a tan looking color to it is it real or fake

    • 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.

  23. Efubaba says:

    Pls what does the marking RNEL mean on both ends of a necklace? Also the pendant.

  24. Erick virgen says:

    Hi i have a chain says 14k italy 585 then 14k again on another peice where are you guys located cause im in san Bernardino

  25. Dominique Johnson says:

    My ring has 925 marked on the inside. Is it real or fake…

  26. Carmela says:

    My white gold watch as a number and name stamp on the back ( Risa 868)

  27. Lmp says:

    Hello I recently purchased a 10 k rose gold bracelet from the flea market for my mother’s birthday. It possess two stamps, one that reads “italy” and another that is “10k”. I do admit that I was I such a fluster in the finding and obtaining the piece as I was doing this on the day of her birthday, that I was less careful and rather impulsive. I tested it with a magnet at home and was a little relived to see no reaction of attraction in it. But based on small information I have just shared about the bracelet can you tell me if it seems authentic?

  28. Lynette says:

    What does just KT stamped on a hawaiian bracelet mean? There are no other markings. Do I need to send a picture?

  29. Romeo says:

    I have a very thick and heavy gold necklace with JH marking on both ends but no karat specified. I tested it with gold testing kit and the gold didn’t disappear using 10k acid but higher that that, it totally disappeared. I’ve using while taking a shower and its color never changed. Is this plated or real? Thanks!

    • Hello Romeo, We have no way of knowing whether or not your jewelry is real gold, unless you bring it by our store to have it looked it. It’s hard to judge if jewelry is real gold online without looking at it. Stop by anytime to one of our two stores and our jewelry experts can help you.

  30. Danielle says:

    I have a gold bracelet with the marking kremnetz is it real

  31. Cathy says:

    My necklace is marked Korea, it was bought at la jewelry district in 1990s, is it real gold?

  32. Abraham says:

    I brought some 18kate jewelry ring and necklace it says 18kate on all of the piece and one of the ring has an 18kate stamp and a750 stamp I’m concerned cause i get a green discoloration on my fingers and my neck so do that mean my jewelry is fake solo

    • Hello Abraham, Gold itself is inert, and does not typically react with skin to cause discoloration. But there are certain conditions under which gold jewelry can affect the color of your skin. Other metals are often added to gold in order to harden it or change its hue, and these metals may be responsible for the discoloration.

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