Gold chains do much more than serve as a fashionable piece of jewelry. Any gold, especially chains, also acts as an investment that can always be sold later, many times at a profit. Unfortunately, this environment attracts many fakes and counterfeits in the market. It is important to know how to sport a fake gold chain so that your money is spent on a sound investment rather than being wasted on scrap metal.
Use a magnifying glass to analyze the clasp of the gold chain. Look to any stamps or markings that identify what gold, if any, is in the chain. If the chain is marked with GP (gold plated), GF (gold filled) or GL (gold layered), then the chain is not solid gold. Markings that identify the caratage, such as 14k or 24k, are preferred, even though a sophisticated counterfeiter may also fake these marks. Some countries stamp the purity based on the parts per 10,000. For example, 9,999 means that 9,999 particles out of every 10,000 are gold.
Hold the gold chain close to a magnet to see if there is any attraction. Real gold is not affected by a magnetic field. If the chain is attracted to the magnet it is made of some other metal, such as gold plated steel, but is not made of gold.
Rub a jewelry cleaning cloth firmly over a specific section of the gold chain. Use the cloth as if you are trying to clean an old piece of jewelry. If the chain has been gold plated, this will usually enough to rub away the plating so that it looks noticeably different than the rest of the chain.
Dip the gold chain into a cleaner solution that is formulated for sterling silver. After soaking the chain in the cleaning solution, allow it to sit for 24 hours. If the chain is fake gold or gold plated, it will be heavily oxidized and tarnished after 24 hours. This does not happen to real gold. Unfortunately, the gold chain needs to essentially be in your possession for this test, which means it may be too late to spare you from purchasing the item.
Any jeweler can perform what is known as an acid scratch test on the chain. This test only takes a minute to complete. It will not only verify that the gold is real, but will certify how pure the gold is.