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All that glitters is not gold - how to tell fake from real

By Finserv MARKETS - Aug 1,2019
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All that glitters is not gold - how to tell fake from real

Before organised retailers like Tanishq became a household name, gold jewellery was bought through small independent shops. The problem with these shops was that they were overtly focussed on profit margins, which invariably meant compromising with the purity of gold. Jewellers have little control over gold prices or the making charges, and the only way to squeeze out more profits is to increase the percentage of other metals in gold. What made it easier is that gold is a soft metal and to increase its longevity it is mixed with metals like silver copper and zinc. It is standard practice. But to add 25 percent silver in a piece of gold jewellery, while claiming it to be 100 percent pure gold is cheating. Though things have changed for the good, it is important to know ways to check the originality of gold.

BIS Hallmark

The government has taken several steps to prevent unscrupulous jewellers from fleecing customers. The Bureau of Indian Standards came out with BIS mark for gold articles. If a piece of jewellery has a BIS hallmark, it means the article has been tested for purity in a BIS licensed laboratory. The BIS marking is, however, a voluntary scheme. Some jewellers have their own purity hallmarks, but they may necessarily comply with BIS standards. BIS mark is not restricted to jewellery, it can be found on gold coins also, which is helpful for people who buy gold as an investment.

Purity in Karats

The purity of gold is measured in karats, written as KT. If you see the clamp or the back of a gold jewellery item you will find 22KT or 18KT written on it. Pure gold is very soft and is not fit for long term use, which is why you will not find 24KT jewellery easily. For instance, 22KT gold means that if the entire piece is divided into 24 parts, 22 parts will be gold while two parts will be other metals. A typical gold article will have the purity number and a BIS hallmark, which means BIS has certified it to be of the purity that is embossed on the article. Even after all these measures, some sellers fleece customers. If you use gold as an investment, opt for digital gold to avoid hassles of checking the purity of the yellow metal. Digital gold is backed by physical gold of the same quantity and can be bought easily from Finserv MARKETS, a user-friendly portal for all financial products.

All that glitters is not gold - how to tell fake from real

Nitric Acid Test

One of the easiest methods to check the purity of gold is through the nitric acid test. If you want to check the purity of gold makes a slight scratch and apply a drop of nitric acid. Pure gold doesn’t react with the acid and the colour will remain unchanged. Other metals will turn green on the application of the acid, while silver will leave a milky white substance. Please ensure that the scratch is made at a spot which is not visible, and also avoid testing expensive jewellery through the nitric acid test. Most importantly, use proper protection like gloves, goggles and ensure proper ventilation and handle the acid very carefully.

Heaviness and Magnetization tests

These are simple do it yourself tests but are not highly accurate. To test the yellow metal by its weight, drop it in a jug of water. Real gold is a heavy metal and will sink instantly, while electroplated gold may float in the water. Similarly, the magnetization test uses the physical properties of the precious metal to detect fake metal. If you place real gold near a magnet it will not be attracted by the magnet, but if it is a gold-plated item, with iron or nickel as the base metal it will react to the magnetic force. However, you will not be able to tell the exact quantity of gold through these tests as failing these tests does not mean that there is no gold in the item.

All that glitters is not gold - how to tell fake from real


Various steps taken by the government over the years has curtailed the adulteration of gold to a large extent, but you should always be extra cautious while buying gold. High gold prices and the potential appreciation it offers often lure people into tampering with the purity of the metal. If you want to invest in gold or save it for the future, buying digital gold is a better option. The purity of the metal is assured and you have the freedom to get physical gold delivered whenever you need it. At Finserv MARKETS, you can buy digital gold in two simple steps without any hassles of testing the purity or negotiating with the jeweller.

Finserv MARKETS, from the house of Bajaj Finserv, is an exclusive online supermarket for all your personal and financial needs. We understand that every individual is different and thus when you plan to achieve your life goals or shop for the gadget of your dreams, we believe in helping you Make it Happen in a few simple clicks. Simple and fast loan application processes, seamless, hassle-free claim-settlements, no cost EMIs, 4 hours product delivery and numerous other benefits. Loans, Insurance, Investment and an exclusive EMI store, all under one roof – anytime, anywhere!


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Bajaj Finserv Direct Limited ("BFDL") is primarily engaged in distribution of financial products and services through its digital platform (“Bajaj Finserv MARKETS”) and inter alia renders services of customer acquisition, providing preliminary credit support activities, fulfilment services and post-acquisition customer services to Banks, NBFCs, HFCs. BFDL is also a registered Corporate Agent (Composite) under valid IRDAI registration number: CA0551 valid till 10-Apr-2024 for solicitation and servicing of Insurance Products. Registered Office: Bajaj Auto Limited Complex, Mumbai – Pune Road, Akurdi, Pune – 411 035 CIN: U65923PN2014PLC150522