How to Detect Fake Gold!

(Readers reply with more tips on how!)

Silver Stock Report

by Jason Hommel, October 21st, 2009


Paper silver is fake silver at the COMEX, as the sellers of paper silver don't have the silver they are selling, and are leveraged by a factor of 12, or more, assuming sellers own 100% of the silver available for delivery against paper contracts.  (Silver on deposit may also be owned by longs who have not sold futures, and who therefore have no delivery obligations).  Less than the 55 million oz. of silver on deposit, supposedly backs 659 million oz. in futures contracts.
October 21, 2009


Dear J Hommel:
       Over the last 3 weeks I have had people try to twice sell to me a fake Maple Leaf gold coin. It had all the proper designs but it was too smooth and the heft (weight/density was wrong) gave it away as made of brass.  It did test properly with acid using just a streak test but not when a groove was filed.  I make jewelry and would have melted the gold so nothing is lost by cutting a groove.

       Last week, in a friend's coin shop, a Chinese made counterfeit US $20 gold coin was brought in. These are difficult to detect and are usually copies of valuable numismatic coins. The seller is known to us and stated that he believed it was a counterfeit made to fool collectors. Coin World had an article about the counterfeiting of valuable US coins in China this summer.  Link to that article:    
(subscription only)

The coin contained a full ounce of gold when refined.  (So it was a fake numismatic!)

       I have also encountered aluminum gold plated flat wafer type bars marked with various Swiss Bank designations. Only gold plated, of course, but the source is unknown.
       With the 400 oz bars I have no personal knowledge of counterfeits. There have been news reports that some bars held in British repositories and by the Bank of England were very old and did not meet standards of today. It was implied in those articles that the gold had to be refined before it would be known how much gold was really in the old bars.
             G. Walter Boucher
--Over 100 manufacturers in China are making fake gold and silver coins!
Fake fears over Ethiopia's gold
By Elizabeth Blunt
BBC News, Addis Ababa
March 13th, 2009
--by Theo Gray, + 18 comments
--references Theo Gray's article.


Jason, I think, even though the specific gravity between gold and tungsten is so close, accurately weighing a bar and measuring its volume (by water displacement) should determine its true nature.

The difference determined this way would surely exceed the permissible volume variance of gold bars. Anyway, that wouldn't make any difference - as long as  the accurate weight and the accurate volume can be determined, the accurate specific gravity will be arrived at.


Jason, You might also want to advise your readers to use a magnet to test anything that purports to be an 'old Chinese' silver coin.  With a little experience one can also spot the fakes, as they are light, thin, and usually have very poor workmanship.  But the magnet test is quick and simple.



Hi Jason,

Are you familiar with the hand-held Xray analyzer that can tell you exactly which metal you have.

They are over $30,000, but for an operation with significant volume, I certainly would have one.   I have a friend that has one made by Oxford Instruments, and he wouldn't do business without it.  They are also made by Innovex and others.


Jason, there is a simple gauge to detect fake gold coins, it measures the dimensions the coin must fit through:

Fisch Fake Coin Identification Gauge


A simple google search brings up:

4 Home Remedies to detect fake gold

There are 4 home remedies for spotting fake gold or just plated items that maybe marked 14k. 1st-Place a magnet next to questionable piece. If item is pulled towards magnet-it's just plated or fools gold. 2nd-Take a jewelry cleaning cloth and rub it on piece in question. This usually will take the plating right off with a couple hard rubs. 3rd-If it's a chain with lobster clasp in question, real gold will most likely be marked on the part of the clasp that moves open for other end of clasp to attach to-not the part your finger moves-the part that actually opens. 4th-Plated brass can look like solid gold until you put it in sterling silver cleaner solution. At first it looks very shiny but the next day it oxidizes and will be dull again. This doesn't happen to real gold. There are also more advanced ways to test gold like a gold test kit with a special testing stone and there are some electronic testers as well.


New Tests to Defeat Gold Fraud

Lists and describes:
Electrical Resistance
Thermal Conductivity
Magnetic Field Test
X-Ray Density
Acoustic Resonance


I wrote, (Very strong acids, such as cyanide, will dissolve gold.)

I was right and wrong.  Very strong acids can dissolve gold.  But the form of Cyanide used in gold mining is a base, not an acid, and is also used to "dissolve" gold.


There is a very strong acid that will dissolve gold, it's actually a combination of two strong acids.  Nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, when mixed together they form was is called, "Aqua Regia", or "Royal Water", because they will dissolve gold.


I am a gold refinier.  You stated:

(Very strong acids, such as cyanide, will dissolve gold.)
  Please be aware, the form of cyanide used to dissolve gold is usually sodium cyanide or potassium cyanide, which are both SALTS, not acids.  They form a solution that is very basic, pH of 11-12 (the other end of the scale from acids, which have a pH in the rangeof 0-6.9).

If sodium or potassium cyanide is accidentally mixed with an acid, it produces hydrogen cyanide, the deadly gas used in the gas chamber.  Cyanide and acid are NOT two good words to have in the same sentence, in my opinion.


Jason, interesting article on gold and tungsten but a slight correction is needed.  This sentence is not correct:  "(Very strong acids, such as cyanide, will dissolve gold.)"   Cyanide is not an acid but an anion; HCN is hydrocyanic acid and it is a very weak acid.  Cyanidation occurs cyanide donates electron pairs to the gold to make a very stable, soluble complex.  It does not dissolve gold the same way as an ordinary acid, such as hydrochloric acid, dissolves most metals.

You are correct that tungsten has almost the same exact density as gold which is why it would be hard to tell by regular methods such as specific gravity (or density).  China produces most of the world's tungsten, so I suspect there is a connection there somewhere.

Enjoy your articles.

I strongly advise you to get real gold and silver, at anywhere near today's prices, while you still can.