How to Authenticate Gold Coins

One quick and simple way to test gold is to drag it across an unglazed ceramic plate or porcelain tile. If the mark left behind is golden, then the item is real.

You can also check the weight of a gold bullion coin or bar. Bullion coins have a set weight and size specifications that are hard to replicate, so counterfeits will be noticeably lighter.


When purchasing gold coins or bullion bars, it’s important to be able to tell whether they’re genuine. While counterfeit bullion does exist, it is a relatively difficult thing to replicate, and there are several tests that you can do at home to help ensure the purity of your purchase.

One simple test is to ring your coin and listen for its response. Gold is precious and will produce a long, high-pitched sound when struck. On the other hand, base metals will make a much shorter, duller sound. You can also do a simple scratch test by rubbing the coin against an unglazed ceramic plate or a porcelain tile. If the scratch leaves a golden mark, it is pure gold, and anything else will indicate that the coin is fake.

Another way to check your gold is by performing a weight and size test. Authentic gold bullion coins are made to specific dimensions, and a counterfeit will be significantly different in size and weight.

This is because counterfeiters don’t have access to the original molds used by the mints to create the coins, making it impossible for them to reproduce the same design. If a dealer is selling gold coins that seem to be a bit lighter or thicker than they should be, it’s a good idea to ask them about it.

A magnet test is another easy way to detect counterfeits. Because real gold is not magnetic, any other metal they may be made from would react to the magnet. A magnet test will help you avoid purchasing a piece of fake gold that could be a cheap, low-quality base metal like tungsten.

Another test that you can use is to test the authenticity of a gold coin by pouring some vinegar or nitric acid onto it. This will dissolve the surface of the coin if it is fake while leaving the coin intact if it is real. This test is not as foolproof as others, however, and you should always take steps to examine your gold in detail before buying it. It’s also a good idea to only buy from trusted dealers, as counterfeit gold can be sold through unscrupulous retailers.


Gold is one of the heaviest metals, and real gold bullion should have a consistent weight and dimensions. If a gold coin seems lighter than a comparable silver or copper piece, it’s likely fake.

You can also test the weight of your gold coins using a simple food scale and caliper. This method is a bit more advanced than the others, but it’s one of the best options for discerning counterfeits.

Gold-plated tungsten products, for example, will often pass this test.

Using the conductivity test is another easy way to tell if your gold is genuine. Gold is a good electrical conductor, and a coin made from gold will melt an ice cube faster than a coin made from a less-conductive metal such as lead or copper.

If you want to take your testing a step further, you can use a black jewelry stone and rub your coin against it. If it leaves a mark that is golden in color, the coin is pure. However, this method should be used in conjunction with other tests.

A more complex and expensive method for determining the authenticity of a gold coin is to perform a specific gravity test. This requires a laboratory and specialized equipment, which doesn’t make it practical for most buyers to use on the road.

It’s also important to keep in mind that reputable sellers will always sell their gold coins in tamper-proof packaging. This protects the buyer and seller from any possible fraud or damage, and it’s a clear sign that you’re dealing with a respected and trusted dealer. In addition, if the seller won’t let you inspect the coin or bar before making the sale, it’s likely a scam. If you are buying from a non-reputable seller, always meet in person at a well-lit place that’s under video surveillance. It’s also a good idea to bring your own trusted tools and test the purity of your bullion before taking it home. That way, you can be sure that your investment is worth the money. For more tips on how to spot a fake, visit the official website of the US Mint.


Modern gold bullion coins, bars, and jewelry all adhere to strict rules and regulations that determine their dimensions and weight. This means that it is extremely difficult to replicate these standards with counterfeit products. However, a discerning consumer can look for inconsistencies in the dimensions of a coin or round with an inexpensive, handheld measuring device such as a food scale. It is also possible to purchase a caliper, which will allow for more precise measurements than can be achieved with a standard ruler or measuring tape.

Another method to quickly identify authentic gold is to drop a suspected fake in water. Since gold is one of the densest metals in the world, it should sink to the bottom of the container. However, if it floats or hovers above the bottom of the container, you should suspect that it may be made from cheap alloys like tungsten.

Gold is also an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. If you place an ice cube on a suspected counterfeit, the more conductive material will melt the ice quicker than the more inert golden product. This test is an excellent way to identify a counterfeit coin that has been plated with less valuable metals, such as silver or copper.

Counterfeiting techniques have changed slightly over the centuries, and a popular approach is to coat or cover low-value base metals with gold to create debased coins that can be used at face value. This technique, known as “fourreeing,” is especially common for ancient coins, which are often covered with a thin layer of precious metal.

In addition to these simple tests, a buyer can also use a magnet to distinguish genuine from fake gold. Real gold bullion coins, bars, and jewelry are non-magnetic, while fakes will stick to a magnet. However, a buyer should be cautious with this method as it does not reliably indicate the purity of a product. It is best to use it in conjunction with other testing methods. This will help consumers avoid purchasing a fake product that is not worth the price tag.


Modern gold bullion adheres to strict rules and regulations when it comes to dimensions and weight. This makes counterfeiting a challenge for even the most experienced of counterfeiters. Nonetheless, counterfeiters have evolved over time and today use advanced coating methods to mimic the look of a real gold coin. The good news is that many of these techniques are easy to detect if you know what you’re looking for.

One of the most straightforward and quick tests is holding your gold coins or bars to a magnet. Since gold is a non-magnetic metal, it will not react to a magnet like base metals do. If your gold coins or bars react to a magnet, they may be made from an alloy containing a cheap, magnetic metal such as tungsten.

Another simple test involves a little bit of sound. Gold and other precious metals make a long, high-pitched ring when struck against something else. This pinging is much different from the duller, shorter sounds produced by alloys like tungsten.

If your gold coins or bars do not produce a pinging sound, they’re likely pure. However, it’s important to note that the pinging test may not be accurate if your products have been cleaned or wiped clean.

A more in-depth, but a lot more expensive, method of testing your gold is to use a precious metals assay machine. These machines have the ability to determine what exactly is in your gold product, down to the molecular level. However, this equipment type is far too expensive for most collectors to afford.

Fortunately, determining the authenticity of a gold coin or bar doesn’t require any costly, high-tech machinery. The most basic and effective methods involve a few simple, inexpensive tests anyone can perform. Using these tips will help you feel confident that you’re purchasing authentic gold bullion. After all, it’s no secret that buying counterfeits could ruin a valuable collection. Taking the extra steps to ensure that you’re dealing with legitimate bullion will save you both time and money in the long run.