Gold is a very common and popular material to use for wedding bands and other pieces of jewelry.
Gold can also be a sign of wealth in some cultures and owning a gold ring is a sign of power and wealth.
If you have gold jewelry of any kind, you may want to test if it is real. Your first test may be to determine whether or not your gold ring is magnetic.
Pure gold rings are not magnetic. Gold rings that are magnetic are often mixed with some other metal to strengthen them. If your gold ring is not magnetic, you can assume it is pure gold, but there is the possibility it has been alloyed with another nonmagnetic metal.
We’ll go a bit more into the magnetic properties of gold and some tests you can do to see if your ring is pure gold.
Understanding the purity of the ring can help you determine its value and know how to best care for it.
Magnetic and Diamagnetic
We know gold is not magnetic, which means it is diamagnetic.
This also means in some cases, if a magnet is strong enough, it will repel the gold ever so slightly.
Rings would be harder to move, but you can see this effect a bit more on gold chains and gold leaves.
The reason rings are not magnetic is that all the electrons in the gold are paired evenly.
When an electron has a pair, it is no longer magnetic, but if there is an uneven amount of electrons the item will become magnetic because it will attract the extra electrons toward the magnet.
Gold itself can be magnetic on very small levels. By small, I mean a singular atom of gold.
A singular atom of gold has 3 electrons. This means one is left unpaired and would be magnetic because the singular electron wants to be paired.
However, since gold is usually found in clusters of atoms, the third electron in one atom can bond with an electron in another atom.
So your ring won’t be magnetic because all the electrons have bonded together.
And it is then diamagnetic because all the electrons are bonded and repel the magnet’s electrons.
If your gold ring is magnetic, depending on its size, it likely has this quality because it has been mixed with other metals.
If your ring is anything other than 24 karat gold, it has been mixed with other types of metals.
This is mostly because gold is very malleable and not super strong in its pure form.
Jewelers will mix metals to make your gold ring stronger, durable, and less likely to scratch.
Of course, there is the off chance your ring is pure gold, but that is highly unlikely for most rings.
Iron and nickel are often mixed with gold for strength and durability.
These are both magnetic so if you find your gold ring to be magnetic, it should have one of these metals in it.
Silver is also mixed with gold to make it stronger but it is not magnetic so it could be in your ring if it passes the magnetic test.
Copper, platinum, and aluminum are also not magnetic and are usually mixed with gold for strength. Copper will also repel magnets.
Silver, iron, nickel, copper, platinum, and aluminum are usually mixed in for coloring purposes such as rose gold or white gold.
Pure Gold Tests
One test you can easily do at home to see if your ring or jewelry is pure gold is the magnetic test.
If your gold ring is magnetic, it isn’t pure gold.
If it isn’t magnetic, it is possible that it’s pure gold or mixed with another nonmagnetic metal.
There are some other tests you can do to see if your ring is pure gold.
This test is a super simple way to see if your gold is pure.
Get a little bowl and fill it with vinegar. Then just drop your gold ring or necklace into the bowl.
If your gold changes color in a couple of minutes, it is not pure gold.
If it remains the same color, it is pure gold.
For larger objects, this may take a bit longer so wait at least 15 minutes to see if the color will change.
The acid test can be done at home, but please be very careful and make sure to wear protective gloves.
You can order kits for completing this test.
- First go through the gold you wish to test and see if it is magnetic or not. If it is magnetic, do not use this test on it. If it isn’t magnetic, you can use it for this test.
- Next you are going to sort through your gold. Separate it by karat. For rings this will be easier, just look inside the band for the stamp of which gold it is. For necklaces, try to separate it if you know the karat, if not keep it in it’s own pile.
- Put on your gloves and safety goggles at this point.
- Get a black rubbing stone out and put your rings in order of which one you’ll rub first.
- Carefully rub the ring or piece of jewlery on the stone until it leaves a decent mark. This mark should be a golden color. If it isn’t, it probably isn’t pure gold.
- Once each piece of jewlery has left a mark get out the karat acid pertaining to what you have. For chains, do 10 karat acid. If you have 14 karat rings, do 12 and 14 karat acid.
- Take the acid and leave one streak down all the marks with the lower acid first. If there is any bubbling, fizzing, or the slightest change of color or fading, it is not pure gold and that karat may be lower.
- If there is no change, repeat the process with the higher karat acid. If there is change, it probably has a lower karat and isn’t purely gold.
If you need help with this test, please use the video below as a guide.