12 May, 2011

How to Authenticate Precious Metals

Authenticating precious metals takes the advice of an expert. Professionals in the precious metal industry include foundries, X-ray analysis technicians and jewelers. Home tests can be done on your precious metals but will not serve as an official reference for the content of your precious metals when it comes to resale. These methods include acid tests and water displacement. For a foolproof authentication, consider taking your metals in for a chemical analysis by a company that specializes in X-ray analysis or an assay test, which can only be done in a foundry or by a metallurgical arts specialist.

1. Take your precious metals to an assessor. Antiques such as silver service or flatware should go to an antiques dealer. For coins, consult a coin dealer. Many coin dealers also have expertise in authenticating precious metals.

2. Submit your metals to an "fire assay" by taking it to a local refinery. This method involves heating and removing all impurities from the metals through a chemical process and then assessing the remains. Such tests for gold can separate the silver, which can also be recovered for you to resell or have assessed for value. Assaying produces gold samples that are 99.9 percent pure and is the most accurate method to authenticate your gold.

3. Obtain a gold testing kit from a local dealer. Look for a test that comes with at least three acid bottles, ground glass stoppers and applicators. Fill the first bottle with nitric acid, the second with 75 percent hydrochloric acid and 25 percent nitric acid. Scratch the object you wish to test with a file and apply a drop of nitric acid. Real gold will change the acid to a brown color. The darker the color, the lower the karat. It will have no effect on gold over 14 karats. Pink indicates the presence of silver.

4. Request an X-ray analysis of your item. This can be done by any local foundry or you can find an X-ray specialist by asking a local jeweler for a reference. X-ray testing is not cheap, so you may want to have a professional assessment or do a home check before investing in X-ray testing results.

from eHow
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