How To Test for Gold Purity

Do you have some jewelry or other items that you think might be gold? If so, you can confirm the quality and find out if you have real gold by testing it out. Using an electronic gold tester is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to test gold.  This type of gold testing kit also prevents the need for any dangerous or harmful substances in order to determine the gold quality.

What Are Electronic Gold Testers?

You will notice that gold testing kits like this are inexpensive enough to make it affordable for consumers like you to be a gold tester at home. Using a gold tester will let you know the percentage of true gold that you have in your item. One of these testing kits is a great way to get the value of your gold before you try to buy or sell gold.

An electronic gold tester can be bought in a variety of different sizes and at a variety of different prices. Most of these are small enough to be handheld devices. With a little comparison shopping, you will easily find testers prices under $100 and as high as over $900.

The way that an electronic gold tester works is by conducting an electrical conductivity test on the object. This test measures how well the object conducts electricity. Gold has no problems conducting electricity and actually does it quite well. So, the tester evaluates the current that is passed through the object to let you know how pure the gold is in the item.

You should know that electronic gold testers DO require the use of a liquid or gel in order to properly assess the purity. When you buy the tester or the gold testing kit, the gel or liquid will be included with it. The gel or liquid is used to form a circuit between the piece of gold and the electronic tester.

Gold dealers use and trust electronic testers, but they must be working properly in order to give accurate readings. Some careful cleaning and practice using the device is all that is needed to get an accurate gold purity reading. It is important that you clean the gel from the probe after each use or it will get clogged and deliver inaccurate results.

You can see how to use one of these testers by watching the video below. It gives a very accurate picture of what you have to do when testing the purity of gold with one of these.

Gold Acid Test

Probably the most common way to test the purity of gold is with an acid testing kit. This method is both the easiest and the cheapest way to test gold. However, it does require the use of potentially harmful or dangerous acid.

There are two ways to do a gold acid test. The most common way is to take your test stone and scratch it with your gold item so that you end up leaving a streak on the test stone. One you have done that, you put a drop of the testing acid on the stone. Nitric acid is what is normally used for this purpose.

Another way to test the gold is to take the acid and put a small drop of it direction on the gold item. Keep in mind that you really only want to employ this method for scrap gold items as the acid will discolor the gold where it has touched it.

The nice thing about using a gold acid testing kit is that you know immediately if the gold is pure. The acid will make your typical base metals bubble or fizz upon contact. It will also often turn them green in color. However, none of these things happen upon contact with real gold.

Acid testing kits are very cheap and can often be found online for around $10. You may even be able to purchase one in a local store. When you get your kit, it will normally include:

  • safety gloves
  • 4 bottles of acid in different strength levels (for 10k, 14k, 18k, and 22k karat value identification
  • instruction booklet
  • file
  • tester stone

Sometimes an acid test requires the use of test needles. In such an instance, the test is referred to as a “scratch test” because the needles are used to narrow down the karat value of your gold. The needles are real gold samples in the different karat values and you compare the color that your gold item changes to against the color that the test needles make when tested side by side. Many people see this as an unnecessary step in purity testing.

If you want to see a gold acid test in action, check out the sample video below:

X-ray Fluorescent Spectrometer (XRF) Gold Testing

If you want to most accurate way to test gold, then you should use what the professionals use – X-ray fluorescent spectrometers. Also known as XRF, these machines are the only way to accurately test gold or the gold content of any item without causing any damage to the item at all. It can be used for things such as:

  • jewelry
  • coins
  • bullion
  • and more!

You should know that these machines are NOT cheap. In fact, the lowest price you will likely find is around $13,000 to $15,000, but prices can exceed $40,000 for an XRF machine.

XRF machines come in sizes as small as handheld and as large as your common desktop computer. If you have ever visited a gold buyer in your local area then there is a pretty good chance that you saw them use a x-ray fluorescent spectrometer machine.

The way that this type of gold testing works is that x-ray beams are sent through the gold item, which does not harm it in any way. As the beams move through the item, the molecules inside get active and start creating energy. Once the item reverts back to its normal state, a small amount of radiation is emitted from the gold. The machine reads that amount, which is like a unique fingerprint of the gold, and sends that reading to the software that works with the XRF. The software then interprets the data and gives you an 100% accurate reading of the gold object. In most XRF machines, the error rate is only 0.05%, which makes this the most accurate way to test gold. Testing with an XRF typically takes less than 90 seconds.

If you want to see how one of these machines works, just take a look at the Olympus XRF video below:

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