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Don't get fooled by phony gold. If you think your shiny gold trinket may be cheap nickel in disguise, then you're going to need to do a little bit of detective work. Fake gold jewelry may sometimes look surprisingly like the real thing, so to spot fake gold jewelry, you have to get technical.
Look for tarnished spots or areas that have a silver shine rather than a gold sheen. Fake gold can get dull and develop silvery spots, but the real deal always stays golden.
Slap a magnet on your piece of gold jewelry. Does it stick? If so, that means it's either totally fake gold or has an extremely low gold content. Sometimes a gold piece may actually be cheapo metal with just a thin gold layer on top, and using a magnet will reveal that piece for what it truly is -- an impostor.
Stick a pin in that sucker. Make sure to pick a really clandestine spot that you can't see when you wear it, then give it a poke. If it's real gold, the pin will go in slightly and leave a little dimple. That's because real gold is malleable and soft. The fake stuff, on the other hand, is often hard as iron and might actually break your pin.
Wear the jewelry for a few days. If you start to notice any skin discoloration where the jewelry touches your skin, it's fake. Real gold won't turn your finger green.
Talk to a jeweler. Bring your piece in and let a pro examine it to determine whether it's real or fake gold. If the jeweler can't give you a definitive answer, ask for a referral to a gold testing laboratory. A quality-assurance lab will be able to tell you without a doubt whether you're sporting the genuine article or flaunting fool's gold.
Pay attention to the details. If it looks cheap, with rough edges and noticeable defects, then let your kids use it for dress-up play.
Avoid do-it-yourself gold testing kits. They use strong chemicals that can dissolve part of the jewelry.