It’s a federal trade requirement that gold jewelry is clearly stamped with a number and letter after it which tells the buyer about the purity of the gold item they are buying. If something is marked 24k, it is pure 100% gold but because pure gold is very soft and does not hold up well as wearable jewelry. Most jewelry is a fraction of pure gold such as if something were 12k gold it would be 50% gold and 50% another metal such as copper or nickel.
Most US jewelry falls in the 10k or 14k category (roughly 42% or 58% of pure gold respectively) to increase its strength and durability as well as enhance its color. Less common are 18k and 22k jewelry. Occasionally you might come across an item not stamped. Often that is because it was modified and the stamp was cut out or custom made. Or it may have simply worn away over time. In those cases, the metal can be tested or assayed to determine its gold purity.
Gold and silver items can be tested with a few basic tools and acid. Nitric acid is used to determine whether an item is gold or gold-plated on steel, copper, or even plastic. A good strong magnet is a good test to determine whether the item is just gold-plated over steel. Gold is not magnetic. Gold-filled items are not magnetic, because the gold is usually over copper or another base metal. Gold-filled items can be tested by filing a notch in the surface and putting a drop of nitric acid over the notch. If it starts to bubble a green color, it is the copper reacting to the acid, and it is gold-filled. When nitric acid is applied to 10k gold, it will turn a reddish brown in color. 14k will not change color, and the acid will look like a drop of water on it. 18k to 24k will stay bright on a touchstone but it is hard to tell any difference between the karat value. There are numerous electronic testers on the market that will tell the karat value of gold items and some that can test for platinum.
You can also determine whether a silver colored piece of flatware or jewelry is sterling silver or silver plated over base metal or copper by filing a notch in it and applying acid in the notch. If the item is sterling silver, it will turn light gray in color, but if it starts to bubble green, it is silver plated over copper or other base metal.
Often you will have a sense if jewelry is real gold based on its weight as gold is dense and heavier than most metals. If you’re not sure what karat gold you have, the experienced staff at Albert’s Pawn can test it for you using a gold testing kit. It does require us to rub the gold onto a test stone in order for it to be tested. But then you’ll know for sure what you have.
Stop by one of Albert’s four locations to find the perfect bargain in the tri-cities area! Here are nine things to know about Albert’s Pawn in Tennessee.
Albert’s has been family owned and operated since 1927. No matter what part of the Tri-Cities you’re in we have a location to serve you. With two locations in Johnson City (Albert’s Loan Office and Uncle Sam’s Pawn Liquidation), Albert’s Loan Office in Bristol and our newest store, Albert’s Pawn in Kingsport – getting top dollar for your items for pawn loans and finding that item you’ve been looking for at an unbeatable price has never been easier.