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Is Gold Magnetic? (Explained)

Selective focus of golden stones on sparkling

 

If you’re on the hunt for real gold, you may wonder if it’s magnetic.

If it is, you could use a magnet to determine if the gold you have is real or not.

Here’s what you need to know about gold and whether it’s magnetic.

 

Is Gold Magnetic?

gold bar and coins

 

No, gold is not magnetic.

For something to be magnetic, its atoms need to have an unpaired electron.

The unpaired electron creates a magnetic dipole.

It’s the dipole that causes magnetism.

Gold atoms do actually have an unpaired electron.

However, when you get a bunch of gold atoms together, like in a piece of gold jewelry, the unpaired electron in each gold atom tends to team up with other unpaired electrons from other gold atoms.

What this means is that the unpaired electrons get shared amongst the gold atoms.

So, a bunch of gold atoms together do not actually have unpaired electrons.

Hence, there is no dipole, and gold is not magnetic.

 

Will A Magnet Stick To Gold?

No, a magnet will not stick to gold.

That’s because gold doesn’t have a magnetic dipole.

It’s not generating any magnetism.

With nothing attracting the magnet to it, the magnet will just slide off the gold’s surface instead.

 

How To Tell Real Gold From Fake Gold

Hand Holding Expensive Gold Jewelry

 

If you were just given a brand new gold necklace, you may be wondering if it’s the real deal or something fake.

Luckily, there are a few easy ways that you can test it to determine if it’s pure gold or something else.

Here are a few methods you can use to determine real gold from fake gold.

 

1. Vinegar

White vinegar in bottle

 

One way that you can test whether your gold is real or not is with vinegar.

The good thing about using vinegar to test the gold is that if it’s real gold, nothing will happen to it.

If it’s fake gold, you might see some slight discoloration.

If you still plan on wearing the gold jewelry even if it’s fake, you might want to get an eye dropper for this test.

Otherwise, all you need is some vinegar.

To test it, use the eye dropper to drop vinegar onto one area of the piece.

Wait a few seconds, and if the gold has a slightly different color to it, you know it’s not real.

Vinegar doesn’t affect real gold.

However, it can affect other alloys that might be in the mixture with the gold.

If you don’t care if the piece gets ruined, you can completely submerge it in a cup of vinegar.

Let it soak in the cup for a few minutes, then pull it out.

You’ll want to dry it off with a paper towel, then take a look at it.

Once more, if you see discoloration, it indicates that the gold isn’t real.

However, if the jewelry piece comes out shiny and is the same color, it is real gold.

 

2. Makeup Foundation

Smear of foundation on pink background

 

If you don’t happen to have any vinegar around, you may have some makeup foundation.

You can also use this to determine if your gold jewelry is real or not.

While this test isn’t 100% accurate, you can use it with some of the other tests to get a more accurate reading.

To perform this test, you’ll need any kind of liquid foundation.

Rub the foundation on your hands, and apply a small area to your cheek.

Then take your gold jewelry and lightly rub it into the area that has the foundation.

You’ll want to look for black marks that the golden jewelry leaves behind.

If you see black marks, the jewelry is real gold.

If you don’t see black marks, there’s a chance that the jewelry isn’t real gold.

 

3. Use An Acid Testing Kit

Selective focus of golden stones

 

You’re not the first one to wonder if your gold jewelry, or other golden objects, are real gold or fake.

One definitive way to determine if it’s gold or not is to use an acid testing kit.

An acid testing kit uses a type of acid that reacts with the object.

Depending on the acid kit that you use, it will either leave a mark or won’t leave a mark to determine if it’s real gold.

The kit will explain what you’re looking for and what it means if you see it.

For example, one acid testing kit might say that if you see discoloration, it’s real gold.

Another kit might say that if you see discoloration, it isn’t real gold.

As such, you’ll need to pay attention to what the kit specifically states.

When it comes to using an acid testing kit, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re safe.

Handling acids can be dangerous.

To ensure you’re safe, wear safety goggles and gloves.

You’ll also want to use the appropriate equipment.

Otherwise, the acid might eat through what you’re using to do the test.

Finally, you’ll need to dispose of the acid properly after you’re done using it.

The kit will likely point you in the right direction of how to dispose of it, but you’ll want to do some research on your own, too.

To ensure you don’t ruin the piece, you should test it in an area that won’t be visible to others.

For example, you might want to drop a bit of acid on the inside of a ring or at the back of a necklace.

This ensures that if it does become discolored, you can still wear it without anyone knowing it.

Performing an acid test is one of the best ways to determine if gold is real or not.

 

4. Float Test

Pendant in form of rings with gem on black

 

One of the easiest tests you can do to determine if your jewelry is real gold or not is the float test.

Gold does not float.

It’s a heavy metal.

Fake gold does float.

To test if your gold jewelry will float or not, you’ll need to get a glass of water or a bowl.

Fill it with water, then place your jewelry piece inside of it.

If the piece stays at the top, it isn’t real gold.

If it sinks to the bottom of the glass or bowl, it is real gold.

Of course, it might also sink to the bottom of the glass or bowl because of other gems on it.

For example, if you have a ring that has diamonds and other valuable gems or stones attached to it, this will make the object heavier.

Even if it’s fake gold, it might sink to the bottom because of these other objects on it.

As such, you might need to use some of the other tests in addition to the float test to determine if your gold is real or not.

Otherwise, if the piece is simply gold, you can use the float test to determine its authenticity.

 

5. No Rusting

Selective focus of golden stones on scales

 

Pure gold does not rust.

That’s because it doesn’t react with oxygen much.

When gold becomes mixed with other alloys, however, then it has a chance to rust.

For example, if the gold becomes mixed with iron, it has a far greater chance of rusting.

Since pure gold doesn’t rust, this can be another useful way to determine if your jewelry piece is real gold or not.

This test may take some time since it requires the alloys used in the jewelry piece to react with oxygen.

To start things off, you’ll need to soak the jewelry piece in water.

Let it sit there for a few minutes, then take it out and let it rest on the counter.

Don’t wipe it dry.

Instead, let it air dry to increase the speed at which corrosion might take place.

You may need to submerge and dry the jewelry piece several times before seeing any rust.

If you do see rust, your piece is not pure gold.

It may have some gold in it, but it isn’t pure gold.

Although this test takes time to yield results, it can be a great way to determine if your gold is pure or not.

 

6. Eventual Discoloration

Close up of beautiful luxury necklaces

 

Another test that takes time to yield results is a visual inspection for discoloration over time.

Real gold doesn’t tarnish or become discolored with time.

It has the same sheen and color as when you first received it.

Fake gold will tarnish eventually.

For example, one easy way to tell the difference between pyrite, commonly called Fool’s Gold, and real gold is its discoloration.

While gold will retain its golden color and sheen forever, pyrite slowly loses its color.

Pyrite looks like gold initially, but it starts to turn green and black as it ages.

Other alloys might also start to change color as it becomes exposed to oxygen more and more.

If you have some old jewelry pieces that you’re not sure about, it’s worth doing a visual inspection of them.

If they’re still shiny and golden, there’s a good chance that they’re made with real, pure, gold.

If you do see some discoloration, there’s a good chance that it isn’t real gold.

 

7. Flame Test

Lighter

 

You can also use a flame to determine the authenticity of your gold.

To perform this test, you’ll need the right kind of lighter.

You’ll need to get a butane lighter that has plenty of lighter fluid in it.

A disposable lighter won’t do because it won’t burn the gold hot enough.

You’ll also need something that you can securely hang the golden jewelry on.

The last thing you’re going to want to do is to touch the piece during or after the test.

Keep in mind that the object you use to hold the jewelry also needs to not be flammable.

Otherwise, you could start a fire.

Once you’re set, you’ll want to activate the lighter and hold the flame to the jewelry piece for about a minute.

Once you reach that minute, you should look at the color of the flame.

If the flame is dark, it’s not real gold.

If the flame is bright and keeps getting brighter, it’s real gold.

This occurs because gold becomes brighter as it becomes hotter.

Other types of metal, like iron and copper, however, become darker the hotter they become.

Using a flame test can help you determine whether your jewelry piece is real gold or not.

 

8. Scratch Test

Beautiful golden jewelry on grey background

 

If you don’t mind slightly damaging your jewelry piece, this next test can also help you determine whether your piece has real gold or not in it.

You’ll need a piece of ceramic that doesn’t have a glaze on it.

If you don’t have any at home, you can easily find unglazed ceramic at any local hardware store.

Gently scratch the ceramic against the jewelry piece.

You’ll need to scratch hard enough that some of the surface flakes off and mars the ceramic.

It’s the color of the marring that will indicate whether it’s real gold or not.

If the mar or mark is a dark color, it isn’t real gold.

If you see a yellow mark, however, there’s a good chance that it’s real gold.

If you want to perform this test without completely ruining your jewelry, you should test it in an area that isn’t visible to others.

Again, testing the inside of a ring or the back of a necklace are ideal locations.

By carefully scratching the piece with ceramic, you can determine if it’s real gold or not.

 

9. Bring It Into A Jeweler

Handsome jewelry appraiser working

 

If all your testing at home has given you inconclusive results, then the best thing you can do is take the piece to a professional jeweler.

They can use their own methods to determine whether it uses real gold or not.

Even more, they might be able to tell you how many karats the gold is.

If it’s fake, they can also tell you what it’s actually made of.

While you’ll have to pay them a fair price, taking your jewelry to a jeweler can help you determine whether it’s real gold or not.

 

10. Magnet Test

Magnet attraction

 

A final way to test if your gold jewelry is real or not is with a magnet.

If your jewelry piece uses real gold, it won’t stick to the magnet.

Therefore, if it does stick to the magnet, it isn’t real gold.

Depending on the size of the jewelry piece, you may want to get a large magnet.

While small magnets will also work, the larger the magnet is, the easier it will be to determine whether it’s sticking to the jewelry or not.

Another reason your jewelry might be sticking to the magnet is that the gold has other alloys in it.

It may be real gold, but if it isn’t pure gold, it might also have other alloys in it that are making it magnetic.

Either way, using the magnet test can give you an idea as to whether your jewelry piece is pure gold or not.

 

How To Tell If Your Jewelry Is Solid Gold Or Gold-Plated

Heart shaped gold chain

 

A common method in jewelry making to make jewelry pieces more affordable is to plate them with gold rather than make the entire piece out of gold.

That’s why you’ll often see 14k and 18k jewelry pieces for relatively affordable prices.

If you suspect that your jewelry piece may be gold-plated rather than solid gold, you may wonder how you can tell.

A magnet test is one of the best ways to determine if something is solid gold or gold-plated.

Solid gold has no magnetism.

As such, a magnet won’t stick to it.

Something that’s gold-plated might show some magnetism depending on what the material beneath the gold plate is.

If the magnet does stick to the jewelry piece, then clearly there’s something that’s attracting it to the piece.

It can’t be the gold, so you can assume that the piece has a gold plate on it.

The magnet test is a simple way to determine if something uses solely gold in it or is only gold-plated.

 

Conclusion

Gold is not magnetic because its electrons all make pairs with one another.

You can use magnets, and other tests, to determine if something is real or pure gold.

You can also use a magnet to determine if something is entirely made out of gold or is only gold-plated.


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