In most cases, it can be very difficult, if not impossible to know for sure whether a gold bar or silver coin is of a high enough quality and purity to represent a good investment. The vast majority of investors worry about falling for a counterfeit item at some point or another. Of course, the best way to avoid this is to only use the services of a trustworthy gold or silver dealer when it comes to buying and selling investment portfolio assets.
Reputable dealers have high-quality control standards and access to professional screening methods that offer reassurance and proof as to the authenticity of the items they are buying and selling on behalf of their clients. This offers reassuring protection for investors seeking to start a new collection or diversify an existing portfolio. As well as securing the best examples of gold and silver coins, bullion and bars for their collection, it is vital for clients to obtain clarity on the value of the precious metals they are buying, in order to be able to sell assets on for a high enough price at a future date.
Alongside seeking expert help and advice when it comes to identifying the value of gold and silver, there are also several other ways that you can test any assets that you are considering buying. This can help you steer clear of the very obvious fakes and get a better idea of what higher-quality gold and silver items look and feel like. Luckily, making counterfeit coins and bars is not easy and there can be several tell-tale signs that something may not be quite as it seems at first glance:
Test size and weight
Gold and silver are both very dense metals – far more so than many lower-value base metals like lead and mercury. Many fakes containing higher amounts of base metals will therefore weigh less or will be of a larger diameter or thickness than could reasonably be expected in a genuine article. It is easy to compare potential fakes with known genuine specimens or check for the right dimensions and weights online. You might wish to invest in a pair of jeweller’s scales and callipers if you regularly buy and sell gold coins or silver bars.
Do a ‘chime’ sound test
When you strike or ‘ping’ an authentic gold or silver coin or bar, the sound will chime and be very different to performing the same action on a base metal equivalent. Base metals sound duller and the noise will not last as long as a real gold or silver chime. Balance the coin on the tip of your finger and strike it firmly with another coin to perform this test. The difference is a bit like striking a crystal champagne flute as opposed to a glass one. Coins can also be spun around on a hard surface to listen out for the sound when they eventually fall over and check whether it chimes or sounds dull.
Silver is not a magnetic metal, which makes it valuable for a number of applications across several industries. It also means that another simple authentication test is possible. Simply hold a magnet next to the silver coin or bar and see what happens. Many of the cheaper base metals are magnetic and will react accordingly. These include nickel, iron, tin and cobalt. Likewise, gold is also not magnetic and the same tests can be applied to it to check for base metals hiding inside. However, some pieces of 24-carat gold or white gold jewellery may contain magnetic metals for the genuine reason of strengthening the softer precious metal to protect against scratches and damage while being worn.