Unfortunately, all that glitters is not gold. If you read the press, you’ll know that rogue jewellers exist, even in the UK. A study from the British Hallmarking Council (BHC) found a third of gold jewellery sold online could be fake. 

Following a 10-day study, the BHC said 6,377 listings – or 36% – did not mention a hallmark.

With gold being such a highly sought-after metal for much of human history, it is no surprise that unscrupulous people have long tried to find a way to produce a convincing fake. Fake gold does exist, but fortunately the unique properties of gold make it quite difficult to create imitations. With a little bit of knowledge, you can avoid making a costly mistake.

There are number of ways to distinguish between real gold and fake gold. Checking with a jeweller is definitely number one as you’ll get a definitive answer, but there also a few simple things you can look out for at home.

Hallmarking – Official hallmarking is the trusted way to guarantee that you are getting the correct purity of precious metals in your jewellery. In Britain, all jewellery that is sold as having been made with gold, silver, platinum or palladium, must be hallmarked according to the Hallmarking Act 1973. These stamps, independently applied by assay offices, ensure that jewellery, watches, and other gold products are of the metal and fineness stated. Though not conclusive, especially for older items, an absence of a hallmark could be a sign of fake gold. Gold-plated items will also have hallmarks so look for letters that could denote this; GP, GEP, RGP or HGE all imply some form of gold plating rather than pure gold.

Weight – Gold is incredibly dense and often heavier than it looks. Use a jeweller’s scale to determine the exact weight of the gold. Many gold coins and pieces will also have their weight stamped on them. Check that the weight is accurate.

Size – Similar to the weight, the specifications of gold coins are regularly listed online in great detail. If the coin is too large or too thick, it’s almost certain the coin is a fake gold product. Usually, fake gold coins are somewhat larger or thicker, so they are heavier and less detectable as fakes.

Discolouration – As a precious metal, gold does not tarnish or rust over time or react with other elements, the way many other metals do. If you see any discolouration on the metal, it is a sure sign that it is not pure gold. For jewellery, this can also result in discolouration to the skin, after being worn for extended periods of time. 

Price – If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Price is always a great indicator. If someone is trying to sell you a gold chain, and it’s extremely cheap, it’s not real. Gold is expensiveand holds its weight in, well, gold.

The easiest way to avoid fake gold and other precious metals is to buy from a reputable company like Selcraft with 47 years of specialisation and experience.

Most recently, our work was recognised on an international level, when we were asked to undertake a commission for special medals produced in hallmarked sterling silver – the Steven Krulis Champion of Humanity Award – for the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda. You can read more about it here.

The Memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It honours the memory of more than one million Rwandans killed in 1994 through education and peace-building.

All our products whether produced in base metal electroplated or precious metals recognise the endeavours and achievements of individuals, groups and organisations around the world.

Carl, Managing Director at Selcraft UK said:

“It was a great honour to have our work recognised on an international stage, particularly for such a special memorial.

“All our precious metal items are independently assayed and each item individually hallmarked in the UK by Birmingham Assay Office. We believe in great customer service and superb quality, nothing leaves our workshops unless it’s perfect. Our ever growing reputation is for designing and producing items that are original and creative.”