Don't Be Duped: How To Tell If A Gold Chain Is Real?

Lester Fangonilo - October 5, 2021

Oliver Cabell’s Compass Set in 18K Gold


Accessories are a must-have when it comes to styling. Rings, earrings, men’s bracelets, necklaces, men’s gold chains, and others accentuate a person’s body and even reflect the wearer’s personality.

They can be worn by both men and women and on any occasion. Men, however, like to wear gold chains. It is like a staple ornament in a guy’s body. It makes them look sleek, and let’s face it: it’s kind of like a statement piece. Some wear gold chains simply with just one chain, while others wear heavy and bulky gold chains. 

The demand for gold chains in the market is so high that you can practically see it in every accessory shop. However, not everything sold in the store is real. Some are made to look like a real gold chain. 

With that, any conscientious buyer should know what’s authentic and what’s not. This page will give you tips and tricks on differentiating a genuine gold chain from a fake one. 

Real Gold Chains


Oliver Cabell’s Cuban Starter Set in 18k Gold


What constitutes a genuine gold chain, and how do we consider one as ‘real’? 

For starters, take note that real gold doesn’t mean 100% pure gold. Pure gold is malleable and can be easily flattened to thin sheets, making it unsuitable for making jewelry. 

So, it has to be mixed with other metals like silver, zinc, palladium, and copper to form into a piece of jewelry. The percentage of gold in jewelry is measured in Carats (K), so the higher carat of a piece of jewelry, the higher the rate of gold is mixed in it. Also, the mixture of gold to different metals to form gold alloy makes the resulting color varied. If you have observed, there are minor differences in the shade of gold jewelry.

Fake Gold Chains

Fake gold chains aren’t precisely 0% gold. Most of the fake ones are incorporated with gold but only minimal or they are plated very thinly. This explains why the color of the fake gold jewelry wears off and will leave green stains on your skin. Staining is also one of the undeniable distinguishing characteristics of fake gold jewelry. 

They make gold-plated jewelry because they want to mass-produce but don’t want to spend so much money so they cut down the costly gold and instead opt for cheap metals like iron, nickel, brass, bronze steel, etc. 

The green stains that these things leave behind on your skin are a result of oxidation. Some of these cheap metals are also very allergic and may cause allergies or skin sensitivity.

Some countries, on the other hand, have different standards for ‘fake’ gold jewelry. For example, for countries like the USA, the lowest carat of gold that is considered real is 10K. So if it is lower than that, then you can consider it fake. 

Difference of ‘Real’ and ‘Fake’ Gold Chains

The very first thing that is different between real and fake gold chains is the weight of the chain. Real gold chains are heavier than fake ones. Another thing to consider is the whole process of making the jewelry. 

Real gold chains are made from molding gold and other metals, melting it, and forming it into wires which will then be linked together to form each chain. Special machines will link the chains for gold, and then once done, they are cleaned and polished for finishing up. 

Cuban + Rope Set in 18k Gold by Oliver Cabell


On the other hand, fake gold chains are made by non-special machines by melting the cheap metals and plating minimal gold by the last step of making the jewelry look like real gold. 

Another thing to remember is the metals used in making the gold chain. Real ones are made of a high percentage of gold and high-quality metals like silver, copper, zinc, etc., or as mentioned above, This metal composition makes the jewelry long-lasting and durable. On the other hand, fake gold chains aren't durable and don't last long. Worse, the color fades after some time. 

But you wouldn’t exactly know how jewelry is made or what metals were used without research, so how do you go about making sure it’s real gold?

You can look at the price difference. Real gold chains are very expensive, depending on their carats, while fake ones are cheaper. Since fake gold chains are made of cheap metals, they are likely inexpensive.

How to Tell Real Gold Chains from Fake Ones

The things mentioned above are the most obvious things to know first before actually purchasing gold jewelry. But those aren’t the only things that can help you determine the real gold chain. Below are some tips that may help you find out if your gold chain is real.

Gold Hallmarks


Authentic pieces of jewelry are required to have a hallmark. Hallmarks are marks stamped on jewelry like gold, silver, or platinum and contain details regarding the said jewelry. The most common hallmark is the number of carats with the K symbol. Aside from that, you can look into some other details that mention the jewelry’s solidity. This is most commonly seen at the clasp of the gold chains. 

For example, hallmarks can be 14K, 14KT, 14KP, 14KGF, and others. However, some real ones may not contain the hallmarks, like vintage jewelry pieces that were made before hallmarks were brought about. 

Color of the gold

The color of 100% pure gold is bright yellow. This is because when compared to other gold alloys, pure gold is so much brighter. So, if you see a piece of bright yellow jewelry, chances are it's fake. Pure gold is too malleable to be made into jewelry, so authentic gold chains do not have this bright countenance.

Another thing is discoloration. Fake gold jewelry has a very thin layer of gold plated onto it. So if you see an inconsistent color of some part of the jewelry, it could be a fake. For example, the yellow color of a fake gold chain wears off. And if it leaves a green stain on your skin, then that’s a fake.

Acid test

The most probable thing to do to know if a piece of jewelry is fake or not is to use acid. Some stores offer this test when you purchase a gold chain. They scratch the gold chain to a touchstone and then apply nitric acid to the scratched area. The chemical reactions in there will tell you the percentage of gold mixed in your gold chain.

Key Takeaways

So how do you know the real from the fake gold chain?

Real gold chains are expensive, while fake ones are inexpensive. So the very obvious criterion to differentiate a real gold chain from a fake one is its prices. When it is expensive, it is most likely real, and fake if otherwise. 

Another thing to consider is the color of the jewelry. If it's bright yellow, then there’s a strong possibility of it being fake. Plus, if the color wears off, that is undoubtedly fake. To purchase a real gold chain, make sure that the jeweler knows what metals were used and the process of making them.

Also, you can ask for an acid test to know if it's real or fake before actually purchasing the gold chains. 

Get Real With Oliver Cabell 

Wrapping up, when buying jewelry, you have to ask the basic questions to a jeweler like, ‘can you prove if this is real’ or ‘how many carats is this jewelry’ to have a clue of what your gold chain is. 

Remember to go and purchase your jewelry from a trusted and reliable jeweler like Oliver Cabell to always get real when it comes to gold chains.