How Do I Tell If Gold & Diamonds Are Real?

One of the most common questions pawnbrokers get about jewelry is how you can tell if metals or diamonds are real or not. Whether people are looking to buy Jewelry or pawn it they want to make sure the jewelry prices are evaluated corectly. In this article, we will discuss how to get your jewelry appraised and what various stamps mean about jewelry. If you live in the NYC area and are looking to buy jewelry, pawn jewelry, or sell jewelry, please contact us here at Paradise Pawn

What Do Karats Mean For Gold Jewelry?

A gold karat refers to 1/24 of the piece of jewelry. So for instance, if something is 24 karat, it is approximately 100% gold. By contrast, something that is marked as being 16-karat gold is made with 16 parts gold and 8 parts other alloys. A great example of this would be rose gold jewelry. Rose gold is made by mixing gold with other metals to get the pinkish color. Similarly, white gold is usually made with 75% gold and 25% nickel or zinc to give it white coloring. That being said, even if something has a gold color, it might not be pure gold, many pieces of gold jewelry use brass and other metals. You always want to look for a stamp that shows how much the metal is gold. The most common stamp used in the states is karat which is marked “KT” and preceded by a number. 

In some European jewelry, you might see a three-digit number instead. For instance, 999 refers to 24-karat gold. European stamps are showing how much gold is used out of a thousand parts. So 999 is the same as 99.9% or greater. 750 would be the same as saying 75% gold or 18-karat. 

What Does Gold-Filled or Gold-Plated Mean?

On some jewelry you might see “GF” or “GP” which stand for gold-filled or gold-plated. Gold-filled is not the same as pure gold. Gold-filled jewelry is made by bonding a small amount of gold to the base metal being used to give jewelry the appearance of looking gold. Similarly, gold-plated is not the same as pure gold. Gold-plated jewelry involves coating the outside layer of your jewelry with a small amount of gold. Over time this gold will tarnish and reveal the base metal beneath. Gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry is not worth as much as pure gold jewelry. 

How Can You Tell If A Diamond Is Real?

Because of the expensive quality of real diamonds, many jewelry companies offer jewelry that uses fake stones in place of a real diamond. Much like testing metals, there are a variety of at-home tests you can do to determine if your diamond is real or not. Here are a few of those tests: 

(Disclaimer: These tests often require the diamond to not be set in any jewelry. We do not recommend removing stones from jewelry, and would instead recommend going to a jewelry appraiser for better results). 

  • Water Test: Diamonds are denser than water and will sink. If your diamond floats in a glass of water, this is a clear sign that it is fake. (this only works if the diamond is not set in jewelry, otherwise the density of the metal can cause the entire piece to sink). 
  • Fog/Breath Test: When you breathe on the surface of a diamond, a layer of “fog” will appear because of the moisture in your breath. If it takes a while to disappear, this is a sign of a fake diamond. Diamonds conduct heat which will cause the fog to dissipate quickly. 
  • Heat Test: This test is slightly dangerous and riskier than the previous tests. If you heat a diamond with a lighter for about 40 seconds and then put it into a glass of cold water it should not be affected, whereas some common fake diamond materials like cubic zirconium will crack or shatter. 
  • Read Test: If you place a diamond flat side down on a book or newspaper you should not be able to read through the diamond. The diamond’s natural light refraction should prevent you from seeing through it. 

Beyond these tests, it is recommended that you work with a jeweler or other gem appraiser. Professionals have a variety of tools they can use to test if a diamond is real or not. 

Pawn Jewelry in NYC

If you have any more questions about the value of your jewelry, or are interested in learning more about buying, selling, or pawning Jewelry in NYC, please contact Paradise Pawn. We have two locations in the Bronx and would be happy to answer your questions about jewelry and other items that we can pawn.