Discovering gold is certainly exciting—when it’s actually gold. In many cases, it could be pyrite, more commonly known as fool’s gold. While it may not be obvious to the average person, experienced gold buyers and those with some inside information can tell the difference between the two. Here’s how to tell if what you have is real or fake.
How to Identify Fool’s Gold
1. Examine Its Appearance
Gold and pyrite may look similar at a glance; however, gold retains a golden to yellowish color for its lifetime. Pyrite is more of a brassy yellow that usually tarnishes with age to a dull finish. This mineral may only appear shiny in certain areas beneath some lighting, while gold will shine from all angles in any light. Pyrite is also sharper and more angular than gold, which has a softer, more rounded appearance.
2. Conduct Streak Testing
Streak testing is a method employed by gold buyers to confirm the stone’s authenticity. To do this yourself, scrape the piece on a ceramic or unglazed porcelain plate with enough pressure to develop a streak. If the item is genuine, it will leave a metallic gold residue in its wake. Pyrite leaves a greenish-black streak behind instead.
3. Test Its Hardness
Pyrite is a hard mineral, while gold is soft. Gold buyers may test this differentiation by using a blade to cut into the material’s surface. If a scratch is indeed visible, then the piece is genuine gold. Pyrite is too hard to scratch with a blade.
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