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How To Test Gold

Here at Hatton Garden Metals, we offer a full Scrap Gold Service. This means that if you want to sell gold then we are here to help. Unsure what type of gold you have, we can help! Have absolutely no idea what you have in your jewellery box and want to sell it – We Can Help! We will carefully evaluate your items and determine the carat of gold or silver and pay you the highest prices. Below are some handy tips and advice when it comes to identifying gold

How do you know what type of gold you have?

Gold comes in different shapes, sizes, form and of course carats. Generally speaking, the gold used to make jewellery is not in its purest (24ct) form. Jewellery in the UK is commonly manufactured in 9ct gold (37.5% pure gold), 14ct gold (58.5% pure gold), 18ct (75% pure gold), 22ct (91.6% pure gold) We see gold in its purest 24ct form in the form of bars and coins, and more rarely in some types of jewellery.

What if you want to test at home?

You can use the techniques below to identify the type of gold you may have at home

How to test for gold

There are only very few ways where you can be sure of the carat of gold.

Hallmarks

Your first port of call when testing for gold should be to examine the hallmark of an item. Hallmarks are provided for jewellery that is sold within the UK. A Hallmark will show you the carat of gold, the maker and the year it was hallmarked. This means that the item of jewellery has been independently verified to ensure it reaches the minimum level of gold content to be classified as either 9ct, 14ct, 18ct, 22ct or 24ct gold. Hallmarks are either stamped (more about that later) or lasered on to the item of jewellery. They are often small and hard to both find and read, using an eyeglass will help. Hallmarks are often found in hard-to-reach places so they are not easily seen when an item is being worn, for example on the inside of rings or the underside of pendants. Here at Hatton Garden Metals, the Hallmark is always our first check. With years of experience, our expert gold buyers are trained to identify and recognise hallmarks in order to provide the first level of checking when buying gold.

Stamps vs hallmarks

Anyone can buy a 9ct stamp or a engrave 750 into an item of jewellery, this doesn’t necessarily correlate with the actual carat of the piece, a stamp can be hammered into any metal, precious or non. Only fully hallmarked items have been independently verified so that their marking say exactly what they are. The hallmark will contain the makers mark, the assay office where the item was evaluated , the purity of the metal and the year when the item was assayed. Trust the Hallmark with all the components listed, not just the stamp. At Hatton Garden Metals we would always perform secondary checks if an item only holds a stamp.

What if my jewellery isn’t hallmarked?

If your jewellery isn’t hallmarked then don’t worry, there are several ways you can see if your item is gold or not. If in any doubt then send your items into us and we will check them for you.

Acid Testing

You can also buy acid testing equipment which you can use to test jewellery at home. It’s really important that you follow all the safety precautions when using acid testing as the acids are corrosive and dangerous if not used correctly. Follow safety instructions carefully. First and foremost, acid testing will give you an indication of whether or not your item is gold. It’s important that you create a suitable testing environment for your test. You will need to file the article to break the surface and get through any potential plating that would give you a false indication of the type of gold you are dealing with. If you don’t file the article then acid testing will only show you the surface reading which could indicate gold when the article is only pated. Different manufacturers produce differing acids, but in general in the UK you will find the first acid is a nine-carat acid. This will give you indications as to whether your item is not gold (usually a green fizzing), 9ct carat (brown stain) higher carat (no reaction). A cream reaction may indicate the article is silver (more about that later). If there is a green fizz then it’s almost certain that the article is not gold. However, if there is little or no reaction with the 9ct acid then you can move on to the higher carat acid. Best practice here would be to start on a new test area so it is uncontaminated by earlier testing. The higher carat acid will give you indications as to the carat of gold, with brown/black staining indicting 14ct, yellow/gold staining indicating 18ct or higher. Here at Hatton Garden Metals acid testing is very much part of our buying process in verifying whether items are gold and their carat. Unsure about testing yourself, bring your items to our expert gold buyers here at Hatton Garden Metals.

XRF Xray Testing

While this is very unlikely to be an option for a home tester, the sure way to identify the carat of a piece of jewellery would be to perform an assay with an XRF x-ray machine, this will show the contents of an item and a breakdown of the alloy. This gives us a conclusive proof of the carat of an item. Here at Hatton Garden Metals, we use our range of X-ray equipment to successfully identify items as part of our extensive testing process. XRF equipment should also be used following strict safety instructions. Hatton Garden Metals uses the same x-raying process as the assay office so we know our testing results are accurate

How do I know what my coin is?

There are thousands of different coins out there, most of the common coins we see are krugerrands and sovereigns, you can find all the details of these coins on our website. The Hatton Garden Metals website shows all the coins we buy and sell, so you can use this to identify the coin you have. If you are unsure of any coin then don’t hesitate to either bring it into our counter and we can evaluate it in front of you or post it to us using our gold packs. Our expert coin department is able to quickly identify and evaluate all gold coins from around the world. There are hundreds of different varieties of gold coins so don’t hesitate to use the expertise here at Hatton Garden Metals to help.

Will you tell me what my gold is?

Yes, we will always tell you what you have send into us. We will provide you with a detailed analysis of the different carats of gold that you have sent into us along with any coins or bars. These will be displayed on separate lines of your invoice so you can see the weight and carat of any items you have sold to us. At Hatton Garden Metals we pride ourselves on clear and transparent pricing for our customers. You will always get the best prices from Hatton Garden Metals.

What if my jewellery is not gold?

If your jewellery is not gold then it is likely to be gold or silver plated. Unfortunately, we are not able to buy articles that are neither gold, silver, platinum or palladium. Gold plated silver items are fine, gold plated costume jewellery is not something we would purchase here. Unsure if your items are gold then send to our expert gold buyers and we will evaluate it for you.

How can you tell the difference between white gold, silver, platinum or palladium?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between these four white metals. Your first check should always be the hallmark. Commonly silver in the UK is hallmarked as 92.5% purity, platinum and palladium at 95% purity and white gold often in the same purities as yellow gold. You can use acid to test white gold in the same way as you would test yellow gold. You can also use acid to test for silver. Using 9ct acid, silver would produce a creamy colour. You can buy specific silver acids which tend to show a blood red colour if the item is silver. It’s important to remember to follow the safely instructions when using acids as they are corrosive. Hatton Garden Metals will always identify your white metals and ensure they are evaluated correctly. In short there are several ways you can identify the type of metals or coins that you have. You can check for hallmarks and if you have the correct safety equipment then you can use acid testing to indicate the carat of gold you have. The sure-fire way of identifying your metal or your carat of gold is to bring your items to Hatton Garden Metals. You can post your items to us directly for same day evaluation and payment and also request a gold pack, where we will send you everything you need to send into us your gold, we can then professionally evaluate it and as always Hatton Garden Metals will pay the highest prices for your Gold, Silver, Platinum and Palladium.


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