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Gold (Au)



Hardness: 2.5-3
Density: 15.5-19.3
Chemical symbol: Au
Crystalline system: cubic
Color: yellow, yellow brass, in the case that it contains silver also light, up to light white. Metallic luster.



Quick identification:


Gold-colored minerals such as pyrite (fool's gold) and chalcopyrite are not malleable and unlike gold, produce a black mark when rubbed against a piece of unglazed porcelain. Pure gold will leave a yellow or yellowish mark. Sterling silver may have on the surface a yellowish layer resembling gold, but a scratch will typically reveal a silver-white color underneath.


Detailed identification:


Essentially, laymen with no experience without any special equipment are not able to distinguish gold from some common metal alloys. Yellow gold has a relatively specific luster, which, unlike silver, is easily interchangeable with other metals such as brass. White gold is especially interchangeable with silver as well as other base metals. Red gold is interchangeable with copper and its alloys. It is only possible to be 100% certain that an item is gold by using one of the technical methods for identifying gold. The most commonly used methods are as follows:


a) A non-destructive test with a touchstone
b) A non-destructive test directly on the jewelry
c) Other non-destructive testing with specialist equipment (mostly TEST X or X-ray fluorescence spectrometry)
d) Chemical analysis (often a destructive test)


How to identify the authenticity of gold without equipment:

(quick identification – may not be reliable)


a) Try to find a hallmark on the object. Beware: the numeric mark (e.g. 585, 750 etc.) is not the hallmark sign. This mark indicates the purity of the gold – the so-called purity mark (585/1000 or 58.5%, or 750/1000 or 75% etc.) Anyone can emboss the purity mark on a piece of jewelry. The hallmark is usually smaller than the purity mark and can only be added by a national supervisory authority or the manufacturer (according to the country). The hallmark is usually a graphic motif (a rooster or goose, etc.) Of course, hallmarks can be faked, but the presence of a hallmark increases the likelihood of the item being authentic.


b) Try to find the trademark of the manufacturer. This only applies for particular countries. Some countries use this instead of a hallmark.


c) If the jewelry contains all three symbols: a hallmark + a trade mark + a purity mark, it is quite likely to be genuine.


d) Try to make a deeper scratch (e.g. with a needle) on a less visible place on the item. If the color of another metal shines through from the scratch, it is likely the item is not genuine and that it is only gold-plated. Sometimes, especially when it is white or red gold, from beneath the white or red layer, the original yellow color of the metal will be visible. This object may be genuine, but it is sloppy work by the goldsmith. The top layer of the colored gold will wear away after time and the bottom layer in yellow color will show through, and the the piece of jewelry can no longer be worn. Jewelry made from of colored gold (white, red etc.) should be made entirely from that type of gold.



Things you may not know about gold:


1. All the gold that has been mined throughout human history would make a 20 meter cube.


2. One ton of gold makes a cube approximately 37cm long.


3. Gold is extremely malleable. It is possible to slice gold into pieces with a thickness of only 230 atoms.


4. Gold is extremely extensile. From one troy ounce of gold (31.1g) can be made into a gold wire 80km in length.


5. The word "gold" comes from the Indo-European word ghela/ghola, which means yellow.


6. Gold is an extremely rare metal. It is estimated that in the world, more steel is cast in one hour than the total of gold products that have been cast in the entire history of mankind.


7. It is estimated that throughout history, humans have mined about 20% of the earth's gold reserves.


8. Gold is edible. Some of the original Native American tribes believe that the consumption of gold allows a person to levitate. In some Asian countries gold is added to food, coffee, tea or fruit.


9. The largest gold nugget ever found is called the "Welcome stranger." It was found in Australia on February 5, 1869. The weight of the nugget was 2,248 ounces (nearly 70kg – the current value of the nugget is about $3.7 million). The nugget was found at a depth of only 10cm below the surface.


10. Gold is chemically inert and does not oxidize (doesn't corrode) and never causes skin irritation (allergies). If you have an "allergy" to gold jewelry, you are sensitive to metals used in jewelry alloys, but never to pure gold.


11. Olympic gold medals were made of pure gold until 1912. Currently, the Olympic gold medals only have to be covered with at least 6 grams of gold.


12. In ancient Egypt, gold was considered to be the skin of the gods (the sun god Ra) – therefore only the pharaoh was permitted to use it. Later, this right was extended to priests and members of the royal court.


13. The Bible mentions gold more than 400 times.


14. In the 14th century, drinking molten gold and crushed emeralds was considered a cure for the plague. 


15. The US government used to mint coins with the denominations of $2.50, $10 and $15 from solid gold. However, the minting of the coins was stopped in 1933 because of the Great Depression.


16. The largest amount of gold in the world is located five floors below ground, in a vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It contains 25% of the world's gold reserves (about 540,000 gold bricks). Most of this gold belongs to foreign governments.


17. In recent years, more fake gold bricks have been discovered, even in bank stocks. Bricks are falsified by pouring wolfram into the hollowed core of a gold brick. Because the density of wolfram is very similar to that of gold it is difficult to detect the fraud.


18. In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102, which forbade American citizens from hoarding gold (except goldsmiths, dentists, electricians and other industrial workers). Ownership of too much gold could be punished by a fine of $10,000 or up to 10 years in prison.

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