We’ve all heard stock market sob stories... A friend of a friend tried investing $1000 in a penny stock because they thought it would make them millions. They waited around for a year before checking the stock. Expecting to see how many millions they accrued, it turns out the stock has gone from $5/share to bankruptcy.
But most of us gold owners don't often ask how to test if a gold bar is real?
File that under ‘Amateur Investment Mistakes’. So what's all this about the fake Royal Canadian Mint Gold Bar? According to Stu Mills at the CBC, a fake gold bar was purchased not so long ago from the Royal Bank of Canada. While gold is a lot more stable of an investment than a random ETF, it is still liable to some minor risks. Buying counterfeit bullion is one of these risks. Susan Headly recently published an article on the topic, shedding light on the fact that a lot of fake bullion comes from illegal Chinese operations. A lot this stuff ends up on Alibabaand duping consumers into thinking they have the real thing.
Check the Markings
Much like an original painting, an authentic bar of gold will have unique engravings from its producer. If it’s a well-known producer, you can compare the marks on your bar with others. Learning how to test if a gold bar is real starts with markings. Pay special attention to any slight inconsistencies across the entire bar that are at odds with the producer’s style.
Weight is a Huge Indicator
A common counterfeit maneuver is to fill a gold bar with tungsten or some less valuable metal. However, in doing so they shift the weight just enough to be noticeable. Simply take a measurement of the gold bar and compare it with the weight indicated on the bar itself.
All gold bars are pressed in exact dimensions with a machine by the producer. They are as exact as can be. You can measure the height and width of a gold bar with the use of a caliper, a professional tool that can be purchased online for $25 USD. If there is any abnormality you are likely holding a counterfeit in your hands.
The ‘Ping’ Test
Genuine gold will make a resounding ping sound when it comes in contact with another metal. All you need to do is click the gold together with a piece of clean metal and observe the sound. If it’s a ping, you have the real thing. If it’s a thud, the bar is likely filled with any range of metals other than gold.
Is it Magnetic?
One of the easiest ways how to test if a Gold Bar is real is with a rare-earth magnet. Silver and gold are not magnetic, but a lot of other metals are. You can put a magnetic to the bar and if it sticks then your gold is in fact an alloy. However, some metals will fool the magnet-test.
The testing method of choice for professional analysts who want to know how to test if a gold bar is real is fire assay. To perform this test, a mixture of gold, soda ash, borax, litharge, flour, and silica must be made. This concoction is melted down and poured into a mould (or crucible) and a small bit of the gold remains in a solid state to be analyzed. This procedure takes advantage of gold high melting point (1,064 celsius) to test its purity.
There is increasing evidence that the vibrational force of gold can help determine the level of purity. Put simply: the geometrical properties of pure gold will have a specific vibration reaction, and any change to the internal structure of the metal will be revealed in a different vibrational pattern. This is just one example of the research being conducted into gold testing today.
There is the odd piece about fake gold popping up across the market. As noted, just recently the Royal Canadian Mint came under suspicion for a fake 1 oz gold wafer. So it does happen!
But while there might be a surprising story in the news once and awhile, instances of fakery are actually super rare in the precious metals industry.
In order to make sure you are not getting duped by the market, it’s imperative that you confirm the authenticity of the gold bar you just purchased. The great thing is: it’s easier than before to learn how to test if a gold bar is real.
First of all, if you are buying from a reputable gold bullion supplier, you have little to worry about. Secondly, as this Wikihow article points out, there are a number of DIY tests you can use to ensure you have the real thing.
How Should I Invest in Gold Bars?
Gold Bullion Suppliers works with customers and industry to improve how to test if a gold bar is real, impure gold, and potential abnormalities in production. These endeavours include thorough testing upon bulk purchases, and a close relationship with the same manufacturers over the years. While there are countless manufacturers in operation, there are a select range of top-notch refineries that suppliers rely on.
As consumers, it’s important we remember that coming across counterfeit bars is extremely rare. However, the best advice is to invest in small gold bars (10 oz. or less). That way you decrease the likelihood of tungsten filled bars, the most common method crooks today use.