How Pawnshops Avoid Fake Merchandise

There is a general misconception that pawnshops sell a lot of fake goods. However, this is not true. While it is true that people will always try to copy things that are popular and in demand be it sunglasses, purses or jewellery, it’s pretty hard for anyone to pass fake gold as real gold when selling to a pawnbroker. It’s not always true that people will be dishonest about their valuable goods, they too could have been fooled into thinking that whatever they were buying or receiving as a gift was anything less than real. Pawnbrokers conduct a series of tests to determine how real a piece of gold jewellery might be. Here are some of the tests that Melbourne pawnbrokers conduct on jewellery. You can use the same tests at home before you take your gold items to a pawnbroker.

# 1: Look For Stamps

Most gold jewellery comes with a discrete stamp. Sometimes the stamp is too small or obscure to read correctly and you would need a magnifying glass. The stamp shows the karat and sometimes, it bears the manufacturer’s identifying mark. You may need a magnifying glass to make out the etchings. Melbourne Pawnbrokers usually use jewellery loupes with a 10X magnifying power. Stamps are the first things to check. So, what good stamps should you be looking for?

  • 10K which stands for 41.7% gold content. You could also have a piece stamped 417.
  • 14K also represented as 585 which means your gold has 58.5% Gold.
  • 18K also represented by 750 which means your jewellery is made of 75% gold.

Sometimes the K is followed by P, like 14KP. The P stands for Plumb and what it means is that the piece of contains 14 karat or more but no less. The P is meant to get rid of non-standard tolerances. For instance in some countries like America, there is a deviation of 0.5K allowed. What this means is that a 14KP ring can actually contain 13.5% pure gold.

Now that you know the good stamps to be on the lookout for, here are some bad ones that pawnbrokers would look for:

GF:  Gold Fill

GP: Gold Plated

HGP: Heavy Gold Plate

HE: Heavy Gold Electroplate

These stamps clearly tell you that your gold is not real.

#2. The Magnet Test

People have been testing gold with magnets for centuries. Gold does not stick to magnets, so find a strong magnet made of rare earth magnets.

To do this you need to:

  • Put the gold on a flat surface
  • Touch the gold pieces
  • If the gold sticks to the magnet, it is fake.

#3. The Acid Test

You can use nitric acid and a gold testing pack that you can buy from Amazon. The kit comes with three different acids. First, you’ll need to put the gold piece on the black stone that comes with test kit. Scratch the gold against the stone. The gold should leave a mark on the stone. Once that is done apply the acids on the mark. If the mark dissolves then you have real gold. The Acid test is a little complicated if you haven’t handled chemicals before.

If you don’t get any satisfaction but are desperate to have your gold tested you can take it to a jeweller or gold dealer and have it professionally tested and appraised. Some pawnshops will actually do the appraisal for free.

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