A Beginner's Guide to Spotting Fake Gold Chains & Other Gold Jewelry Pieces
Posted on May 12 2020
When shopping around for jewelry, it can be tricky to know if you’re actually getting what you’re searching for, especially since so many people prefer to shop online. Jewelry is sometimes one of those items that people prefer to look at in person, and for good reason. You can more closely inspect the pieces and ask a jeweler questions.
However, there are plenty of times when you won’t be able to go to the store to shop around, and it’s often difficult to find the types of gold chains that a dude with urban streetwear style is looking for. Have you ever been inside a jewelry store filled with engagement rings and delicate necklaces right alongside the dopest 14mm Miami Cuban link chain iced out with diamonds? Yeah, we didn’t think so.
Don’t shy away from purchasing gold chains online—a lot of people are doing it. There are just some steps you can take to ensure you’re buying from a reputable company and to verify that your jewelry is actually real.
Before You Buy
Okay, so you’ve found the perfect piece that you want to order but, when your package arrives, you want to be able to test its authenticity. Even if it looks super clean and legit, it’s always best to test. Before you even place the order however, there are some important steps you should take to limit the chances of purchasing a knock-off chain. First, ask for recommendations from friends and family. If they have purchased gold chains in the past from a specific store and had a good experience, it’s safe to assume that you probably will too.
You should also browse the internet for product reviews from that company (be sure to check for reviews on a site other than the company one as they may not be entirely real). It’s always a smart idea to see what other people who have already ordered from and dealt with a company have to say.
Last, check out the website very thoroughly. Look for a specific return policy and an easy way to reach their customer support team. A company that does not advertise a direct method for reaching customer service is probably a scam—there’s a reason they don’t want you to be able to contact them.
How to Spot a Fake Gold Chain
There are several visual factors that could tip you off when a piece of jewelry isn’t legit. Of course, there are many different methods of testing your jewelry, but these first initial signs may signal that something isn’t quite right. You can also use these visual cues to determine whether or not someone else is rocking a real chain or to examine other chains you may see in the future and consider buying.
Compare Size and Price
Size can be a very revealing piece of information when it comes to a gold chain’s authenticity. Sometimes we’re inundated with images of our favorite rappers walking around with huge gold pieces from around their neck. And, while we definitely appreciate the dopeness of their style (and, to be honest, we’re jealous that they can dish out money on new, massive, flashy pieces whenever they want), it’s most likely these are custom pieces that cost tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars.
If you see a company advertising huge 33mm chains with solid gold pendants covered in diamonds, it’s probably not real. Anyone with the money to buy that kind of jewelry typically works directly with a custom jeweler. Also, you can examine the price in comparison with the size. If these huge pieces seem oddly low in price, there is definitely something sketchy going on. Skip the purchase and browse a different collection.
Notice the Gold Coloring
Real gold jewelry has a very distinct appearance. Yellow gold isn’t overly bright and shiny. Of course, real gold jewelry always has that shine that we love but, if it looks suspiciously shiny, almost like metallic paint, you may want to do some deeper digging into the authenticity of this jewelry.
Yellow gold is always the easiest to spot as fake because it will look super yellow, and most people can tell that it doesn’t seem quite right. Check the entire necklace or bracelet and look for areas where the color might have worn off. Any indication that this is not legit gold is a reason to be suspicious and try out one of the testing methods below.
Look for a Jeweler’s Stamp
This is probably the easiest way to spot a fake—look for a jeweler’s stamp. By law, jewelry makers must include a stamp, which is called a maker’s mark, somewhere on the piece. Usually, for rings, it will be on the inside; for necklaces and bracelets, it may be on a piece of metal near the clasp. This stamp is very small, but it actually carries a lot of information, including the purity of the gold.
Other symbols in the maker’s mark can reveal more details; for example, GP stands for gold plated and GF stands for gold filled. These tiny little markings will allow you to have a better understanding of the way your jewelry was made and how you should be caring for it.
Feel the Weight
Much like noticing the color of your jewelry, taking into account the weight can reveal some suspicions. A thick, solid gold chain should be heavy. If it seems unusually light for how the piece is marketed to you (i.e., 33mm solid gold chain), then there might be a problem. Really large, solid pieces should feel hefty. However, if you purposely opted for a piece that was gold plated, your necklace will still be dope as ever, but it may make sense that it isn’t extremely heavy because it has other metals at its base that may be lighter.
Testing for Real Gold
Perhaps the easiest and quickest way to determine whether your jewelry is a fake, the magnet test just takes a few minutes. Gold is not naturally magnetic, which means that when you hold a magnet up to your gold chains, they should not stick to each other. Okay, great—easy enough. However, this test can get a bit tricky when you consider the fact that gold needs to be mixed with metal alloys in order to help it keep its shape and make it more durable.
There should still be enough gold present in the piece that it doesn’t react with the magnet, but what if you ordered a gold-plated chain? There is absolutely real gold on this piece, but will it be enough to fight off the magnet? It’s not always clear. So, if your jewelry doesn’t pass the magnet test the first time, try a few other tests to be sure. You may just have a piece with a high metal alloy content mixed with real gold.
Silver Chalk Test
If you purchased a pure silver piece of jewelry, there is a totally different test that you can use to determine authenticity. Just get a piece of chalk and write directly on your jewelry (don’t worry, it’ll wipe right off). If the silver material starts to appear darker as you’re rubbing the chalk onto your necklace, bracelet, or ring, then your piece is legit and made from authentic silver.
Doing the iodine test for gold is a bit more involved because you need to invest in iodine, but this is the best way to know for sure whether or not your jewelry is real. Take a drop of iodine and place it on the jewelry in question. If it’s fake, the color will stay—but, if it’s legit, the iodine should simply fade and disappear. You can invest in a precious metals testing kit, which is no more than $30, that will come with iodine and other chemicals to help identify the authenticity and reveal the jewelry’s true contents.
Using vinegar to test your jewelry is a bit easier because most of us have vinegar in our house, meaning you won’t have to wait to buy iodine or other chemicals. If you have a suspicious piece of jewelry, put it in a bowl or a glass and completely submerge it in vinegar for at least five minutes. Fake gold jewelry will start to become darker very quickly, almost resembling a kind of copper penny color.
Check the Diamonds
A fly dude like you definitely wants to buy an iced-out piece one day, but this adds another element of authenticity. You want to make sure those diamonds are not cubic zirconia being passed out as the real thing. Of course, if you don’t mind having a piece with fake diamonds in it, you can find more affordable jewelry that won’t last as long or look as nice; but, if you’re paying the price for real diamonds, you want to be sure that you’re actually getting high-quality diamonds.
An easy way to test for real diamonds is to blow on the gemstone. If it appears to fog up, it’s not real. Actual diamonds have a high thermal conductivity, meaning that the condensation from your breath will not be able to cling to the gemstone itself.
How to Care for Your Gold Chain
Weekly and Monthly Cleanings
All right, so you did it. You found a baller piece that is verified legit. Now, you need to know how to care for your new gold chains to keep them looking dope for years to come. If you’re wearing your gold chain on the reg, like every day or most days, you absolutely need to be implementing a weekly and monthly cleaning routine.
Pick one day of the week that you prefer to clean your jewelry. Break out everything, even if you haven’t worn it that week, because it may still have collected some dust. You can use warm water and a gentle soap to wipe your jewelry with a soft cloth. After you’ve rinsed the soap away, allow it to air dry.
Your monthly cleaning should be more in-depth. Get yourself a brush with soft bristles and carefully scrub your jewelry with a mild soap and warm water combo. This will help reach any dirt or dust that has built up in different places. You can also let your jewelry soak in the warm water and soap for at least 10 minutes.
Store Someplace Safe
Where you decide to keep your favorite jewels is directly related to how long they will last. If you’re the kind of dude who just tosses his chains on his nightstand or dresser, consider what kind of a beating these pieces are taking. They’re still out all night collecting dust and being exposed to other elements that could damage the quality.
Instead, invest in a jewelry box or make some kind of safe place where you can protect your jewelry and keep everything organized. If you want to go through the process of getting your pieces appraised, you can also consider investing in jewelry insurance to protect your pieces from damage and theft. But, you will need to prove the piece’s authenticity and have an official appraisal from a jeweler.
Keep It 100 with Our Dopest Real Gold Chains
At Frost NYC, we pride ourselves on having high-quality products that our customers love. Browse our wide collection of gold chains, bracelets and more to discover classic and unique styles, from the Miami Cuban link chain to the Byzantine chain. Our pendants are also available in a variety of styles to help you switch up your look from time to time by adding pendants to your dopest chains or removing the pendant and rocking a chain solo. Each of our pieces are authentic and handcrafted by artisan jewelers and topped with a finish that is guaranteed to keep your piece looking as fresh as the day you took it out of the box.