Here we will share with you three methods that are used to test gold for its purity. Some of these approaches are more involved and technical than others and require specialist equipment so are not a do it yourself method, however they do give an interesting insight into the world of bullion and the methods employed to ensure products are up to standard.
Test Gold Purity: Methods
To start with, a collection of simple methods that you can try for yourself. Firstly look at your gold and identify any hallmarks present. These should give you information about the manufacturer and quality of the gold however hallmarks can be faked. During the inspection you should look for any signs of discolouration on the edges of the item that are likely to suffer most wear, this would indicate that the item is simply gold plated and not solid gold. Another simple technique is to check the gold against a magnet. Gold is a non ferrous metal and should not be attracted to a magnet however other metals are also non ferrous so this is not a definitive test in itself. These tips are not a guarantee of purity however and if doubt remains more in depth testing should be sought if available.
Nitric Acid Test
Next a test that has given its name to a popular saying, The Acid Test. This test is not recommended for home use, however it does provide indications as to the composition of an item. By placing your items in a container with a few drops of nitric acid and observing the results you can ascertain the composition of an item. Real gold should not react to the acid however any fizzing and discoloration indicates the presence of other metals in the composition and indicates that the item may be only gold plated
A more reliable method, that we at UK Bullion employ is the use of an XRF machine, this stands for X-Ray Fluorescence and is a widely used method for checking the composition of metals. The basic principle behind the machine is to bombard the sample with X-Rays and then analyse the results. This process works on the principle that all different elements emit slightly different wavelengths of light when excited by X-Rays. A spectrometer then creates a spectrum which is compared to the known elements and the composition of a sample can be determined. This is all done automatically within a few seconds of a sample being secured in the machine and gives highly accurate results and does not damage the sample but is not really a do it yourself method due to the expense of the equipment used.