Subscribe via E-mail

Your email:

Follow Us!

Stebgo Metals Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

How to Spot Fake Gold Chains


The Number One Gold Buying Mistake

Chains are the number one gold buying mistake, and they are the most common fakes we see here at Stebgo Metals. Chains are a little harder to test and when the piece is a sterling/gold plate variety (Vermeil) they often have a “feel” close to a real gold chain. Because these fake gold chains are heavy, buying just one can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.


 Checklist when Testing Gold Chains:

  1. Look for hallmark

  2. Check  to see if chain is magnetic

  3. File into piece to get through plating /overlay or to expose sterling underneath.

  4. Test with Nitric Acid or your electronic tester

  5. Beware of any 18 Karat White men’s chains

Do not buy if you are unsure.It’s OK to pass rather than get burned!

Steps to find fake chains:

  1. Hallmark. When testing a chain look for the hallmark first. We have found that the fake chains will have a Karat stamp like 14K but not have a manufacturer hallmark. Your chain manufacturers are going to put the company hallmark on their piece.

  2. Magnetic. The next step would be check to see if it is magnetic, this will tell you right away you have a no value chain.

  3. Nitric Acid. When testing with nitric acid or an electronic tester remember to  file into the piece if you can, this will get through any plating or gold overlay.  Always test body of chain not end caps or clasp.

Tricky Fake Chains

Here is an example of a tricky one that some people have purchased. This chain is often heavy gauged and in a men’s style. It is a stainless, chromium mix that is inert with the acid (no reaction) and non-magnetic. The electronic testers will sometimes show this as a karat piece! Most examples we have seen are marked 18K and do not have any recognizable hallmark of any kind, they may have a random number sequence. It will seem much harder to file than an 18K/14K white piece so test heavy men’s 18 Karat White with a file if you can. These chains shown were stamped either 750 or 18K

fake chain random number sequence

Nitric Acid Reactions

Below are some reactions to look for when using the straight nitric acid method. (Be sure to wear eye protection)

  • 10 Karat Yellow - Brown color
  • 14KY - Very slight brown color
  • 18KY  -  No color change
  • 10Karat White - Dark brown, after 20 seconds the acid starts to fizz
  • 14KW - Slight brown
  • 18KW - Faint brown
  • Sterling Silver -  Milky whitish color with some faint brown
  • Pot metal - Grey color, no fizzing
  • Base Metal - Fizzes green, smokes (brass or copper present) see base metal plated bangle below

See the green residue present - this fake was stamped 14k



We have found that a little diligence when testing chain protects your bottom line. Remember, a stamp is just a stamp. Be sure to take the time to go through these steps with the chains and bracelets that come in.


Hi there, I have a heavy gold chain with no stamp, the clasp is magnetic but not the chain, can you please help. 
Posted @ Wednesday, March 28, 2012 3:13 AM by Deborah
Posted @ Friday, April 20, 2012 1:46 PM by EDDIE JONES
I'm looking at buying a necklace marked 14k and marked 585 made in Italy. With the 2 marks do you think they are real. They are non magnetic 
Thank-you Brad
Posted @ Tuesday, June 05, 2012 8:25 AM by Brad Holter
i have silver or white gold neckless thats non- magnetic.but it saids 14K ITALY ?So what does that mean???????? PLEASE CAN U TELL ME? 
Thank you jacki:D
Posted @ Thursday, September 20, 2012 11:14 PM by jacki
Have a gold chain with a hallmark mark atlas 12k on the clasp. What does it mean. Thanks
Posted @ Sunday, December 16, 2012 1:06 PM by Ken
Just remember that just because it does not have a hallmark on the jewelry that does not say it is not real. I had a necklace that had no markings on it and I took it to a professional and he told me it was real gold. Go Figure
Posted @ Sunday, January 20, 2013 8:23 PM by Marie
You can also verify with ultrasonic thickness meters. These can be purchased for around $275 at
Posted @ Thursday, March 28, 2013 3:00 PM by Eric Klingensmith
I have a gold bracelet and it says 14k italy bought in a jewlers so is it real because I don't think soo
Posted @ Saturday, April 13, 2013 2:25 PM by alan
found 24 inch 14k stamped and Italy and 585.mall jeweler said he thinks real,w/ no test.a dif store used drops said fake.guess he wouldnt lie,he didnt offer me anything for it..?
Posted @ Monday, April 22, 2013 6:01 PM by connie
I keep seeing check to see if it is magnetic. Silver is not magnetic. As a matter of fact there are only three magnetic elements that are not radioactive. nickel, iron, and cobalt.
Posted @ Sunday, May 19, 2013 4:22 PM by Terry Peete
Another very strong and powerful post. I’ve been reading through some of your previous posts and finally decided to drop a comment on this one. I signed up for your newsletter, so please keep up the informative posts!
Posted @ Saturday, May 25, 2013 8:57 AM by rwculverlaw
I'm in complete agreement with a lot of the information in the following paragraphs. You certainly are a special article writer have real profit put your own views directly into apparent phrases. Anyone will be able to understand why.
Posted @ Thursday, May 30, 2013 7:31 AM by rwculverlaw
Good stuff. It is interesting to read comments.
Posted @ Thursday, June 20, 2013 9:04 AM by Civil Construction Courses
I've a white gold necklass with 9 kt stamp and italy on aswell. Is it white gold?
Posted @ Saturday, June 29, 2013 6:22 AM by loz duffy
thanks for the help! :D 
Posted @ Saturday, June 29, 2013 6:53 AM by jacki
Hi Loz, The best way to find out if a piece of jewelry is authentic or not is to test it with either an acid kit or an electronic tester. Without having the piece in front of us it is hard to tell. Another way to test, which is much less labor intensive, is using a magnet. If the piece of jewelry is magnetic, some, or all of it is probably fake. For more information please email us. Thanks, Stebgo
Posted @ Wednesday, July 03, 2013 9:59 AM by Stebgo Metals
Posted @ Wednesday, July 03, 2013 10:01 AM by Stebgo Metals
Posted @ Sunday, July 07, 2013 7:56 PM by
Can you clarify the matter of magnetic detection for gold... is it a reliable method? As one commenter mentioned, and you eluded to regarding the "stainless, chromium mix", it may not be a good indicator for the novice. Thanks.
Posted @ Sunday, July 28, 2013 7:41 PM by Bob
Great question! 
The magnet test is an easy initial test to see if the piece in question is possibly a gold plated ferrous material. This will not expose a plated piece that has a base metal that is not magnetic like copper, brass or sterling silver (Vermeil). It also will not work for the piece you mention that is stainless. If a piece passes the magnet test the next step would be to check it with an electronic tester, nitric acid test kit, or straight nitric acid. I will go in more detail on these testing methods with some upcoming blogs. I use the magnet as the first line of defense in exposing fakes and plated material but it is by no means the final step in testing. 
Posted @ Monday, July 29, 2013 4:29 PM by Scott Stebbing
Yes 14k Italy gold is real gold. The way to tell if gold is real or not is to check for the stamp saying what karat it is such as 14k.
Posted @ Thursday, August 01, 2013 4:50 PM by Visit Italy
Stamps and hallmarks are meant to establish the purity of precious metals. If you are buying a 14k Italian chain from a reputable retail jeweler or pawn shop you will probably have an excellent and plumb (fully karated) product. The focus of our blog is meant to educate the jeweler, pawn shop owner, or gold buyer on how to watch out for and expose forgeries, fakes and under-karated items that people may try knowly or unknowingly to scrap out with them. Many refiners, us included, have discovered 14K stamped jewelry that is non-precious through our testing processes. We do find, however, that chain and other jewelry products that have the hallmark stamped from the manufacture is less likely to be a fake, but there is still no guarantee if the source of that product was not the vendor or retailer.
Posted @ Friday, August 02, 2013 2:06 PM by Scott Stebbing Stebgo Blog Author
I have a men's white Link necklace That's mark on the clasp 14k With the hallmark..And says .made Italy. But it has a yellowish tint at the along book h side of da link. .Is it fake
Posted @ Thursday, August 08, 2013 11:51 AM by Danny Moreno
The reason a clasp can be magnetic is there is a tiny steel spring in it.
Posted @ Sunday, August 11, 2013 5:38 PM by Ross
Comments have been closed for this article.