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How Can You Tell If Jewelry Is Real?

How Can You Tell If Jewelry Is Real?

Every piece of jewelry is made to add beauty and charm to the image, there’s no doubt about that. Even if the item is made not of precious metals and stones it can still perform this function for some time. There’s nothing wrong with the costume jewelry until the purpose of ornamentation becomes supplementary and switches to the initial motive of faking fine jewelry.

The main point of fake jewelry is to deceive. It’s either you who make the people around think that it’s the high-end piece you’re wearing, or it’s you who’s been led into the trap of believing that you’re buying the real jewelry. Of course, it’s more pleasant to be in the first category, but how to avoid the second? We offer you some tips on how to tell fake jewelry vs real hoping you’ll be able to avoid an unpleasant experience.

#1 Check certification

The best way to ensure the authenticity of the jewelry is to get the official papers from the seller. There are various forms of certificates that can prove the jewelry to be real. Some of them deal with precious metals, others with gems, but if along with your jewelry you get one of the following certificates, you may rest assured your item is real:

  • Platinum Guild International (PGI) specializes in platinum jewelry;
  • The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) deals with gold items;
  • Gemological Institute of America (GIA),
  • South Africa’s Gemological Laboratory (EGL),
  • Solitaire Gemological Laboratories (SGI),
  • International Gemological Institute (IGI),
  • Cambay Gemological Lab (CGL) works with precious stones and jewelry containing them.

Such certificates usually contain information about the name of the certifier, certification number, the purity of metal, quantity of diamonds in jewelry, their color, clarity, cut, and weight of each of the stones. Such a certificate provides you with a clear idea of how appropriate the price you pay for the actual jewelry you get is.

#2 Check markings

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Another simple way to tell the real vs fake jewelry is to look for a marking. Real diamond jewelry always contains specific markings. Check the insides of the ring, look at the clasp if it’s the chain or a bracelet, search for a marking on the post of the earrings. They are the most common places for jewelry markings.

It’s already a good sign if you’ve found a marking, but it’s useful to know what they mean. The stamps that are usually used to mark gold indicate the purity of the alloy, the jewelry is made of.

Gold markings

As gold is too soft to be used as a sole material, jewelers use alloys that contain a certain percentage of gold. You can learn more about gold jewelry education in our post. The gold mark shows how much gold is there in the jewelry. The standard marks are typically stated in karats or 3-digit numbers.

Solid gold karats:

  • 9K or 375 – 37.5% of gold
  • 10K or 416 – 41.67%
  • 12K or 500 – 50%
  • 14K or 585 – 58.33%
  • 18K or 750 – 75%
  • 22K or 917 – 91.67%
  • 24K or 999 – 99.99% (rarely used)

The most popular choice of gold for jewelry is 10k, 14k, and 18k gold. But there are markings that may disappoint if you hope for the jewelry to be real. If you know their meaning it gets easier to understand whether it’s real or fake jewelry lying in front of you.

  • GF or 1/20 14K mark is put on the gold-filled jewelry coated with a gold alloy that contains not less than 5% of the whole jewelry’s metal weight.
  • RG, RGP, or 1/40 14K means the jewelry is rolled gold-plated with a 2.5% amount of gold alloy.
  • GP/GEP or HGP/HGE marks the jewelry items that are gold-plated/gold electroplated or heavy gold-plated/electroplated.
  • Vermeil or .925 is sterling silver jewelry plated with gold alloy.

Such fake jewelry looks real and may be used to fool customers rising the cost to the level of high-end items.

Platinum markings

Platinum is the noble metal used in jewelry, and it has its standard markings as well. Platinum is also not 100% pure, but it gets closer to it than gold. In the platinum alloy, you may usually find from 90% to 99% platinum. You can learn more about how you can check if platinum is real using our education section.

Platinum hallmarks::

  • 999 Plat/999 Pt – 99.9% (rarely used);
  • Platinum, Plat./Plat 950, Pt./Pt 950 – 95% platinum, 5% other metals;
  • Plat 950 Irid 50/ Pt 950 Ir 50 – 95% platinum, 5% iridium;
  • 950 Plat 50 Ru/ 950 Pt 50 Ru – 95% platinum, 5% ruthenium;
  • 950 Plat 50 Co/ 950 Pt 50 Co – 95% platinum, 5% cobalt;
  • Plat 900 Irid 100/ Pt 900 Ir 100 – 90% platinum, 10% iridium.

Silver markings

The most popular silver marking you’re going to find is 925, also known as sterling silver (Sterling, Ster., STG). It means the silver jewelry item has 92.5% of pure silver with the addition of copper to the alloy to make the jewelry stronger.

Silver hallmarks:

  • 925 (92.5% of silver)
  • 950 (about 95% of silver)

There’s a possibility you may find a 950 mark also known as Britannia silver with a metal purity of 95%. It can be referred to as Sterling but is a bit softer. To learn more how you can test sterling silver, read our education section.

#3 Check the assembly

Another trick to distinguish costume jewelry from real is to look closer at details. If the jewelry is luxurious and fine, all the assembly components should be made of the same material as the jewelry itself, springs and clasps should be perfectly fitted – neither too tight, nor too loose. Sometimes even real jewelry has those details made of other metal, so there’s an easy way to check the item itself, and its details.

The strong magnet will help you reveal the true identity of the jewelry. Place it next to the different parts of the jewelry and if the metal reacts, the item is fake, as the precious metals are not magnetic. Though sometimes the plating may be too heavy and prevent even magnetic metals from reacting to magnets, so the method is not 100% accurate.

#4 Check the metal

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How do you know if jewelry is real by visible differences in metal? In addition to the magnet test, we offer to observe the jewelry closely. When you’re dealing with gold, no matter its color is yellow, rose, or white, keep in mind that it should be even. If the jewelry has some lighter or darker spots, it’s probably only a replica. Look closely at the scratches, if there are such. If you can see another metal underneath or if it reacts with your skin turning it green, the jewelry is most likely plated.

When you’re choosing jewelry made of platinum, you should know that it is often covered with a rhodium finish that provides extreme shine to the item and a slightly lighter color. It may wear off with time and become a bit duller due to scratches and the so-called patina. You may take it to the jeweler to restore the rhodium finish and polish the piece to bring back its shine, but some people even prefer the somewhat antique look it gains over time. It also doesn’t react with the skin, so if the jewelry leaves black or green marks, it can be fake. The best way to find out whether your jewelry is real is the acid test. You may purchase the jewelry acid test kit, but the jeweler will make it faster, safer, and sometimes for free.

#5 Check gemstones

How to know if jewelry is real if it has gemstones? It’s great when you know at least one of the jewelry components is real or fake. If you’re sure the metal is real, there’s a high possibility that the diamond or other gem in it is genuine as well. The thing is, the real precious stones are not usually set in the costume jewelry, so if you know, the gem is real, you can be sure about the metal as well.

It’s a bit harder if you don’t have a clue about either of them. In such a case, you need to pay attention to the imperfections of the stone. You may think that it’s good if there are none, but you are only half right. The natural gemstones used in jewelry are generally very strong, so it’s unlikely they’ll get scratches or cracks. But, if the stone seems too perfect it may as well be a counterfeit or simply a synthetic substitute. Natural gemstones often contain inclusions, some add to the price, others reduce it, but they are still a good marker of authenticity.

All those ways are interesting to know and quite educative, but there are only two methods of ensuring your jewelry is real. The first one is to buy it from a reliable seller or a store. For example, ItsHot real jewelry is known and preferred even by a number of world-famous celebs. ItsHot doesn’t sell fake jewelry, only real items, their diamonds come with the certificates from GIA laboratory or other gemological laboratories such as EGL. The jewelry from ItsHot is a safe and pleasant purchase.

If you have already bought jewelry, but you’re not sure about its authenticity, you’re free to conduct a bunch of experiments over it, but the best decision is to take it to the jewelry expert, who can confirm or allay your fears once and for all.


ItsHot LogoDenis Stepansky
Founder of ItsHot.com

Denis Stepansky is a founder of ItsHot, a diamond jewelry and watches store based in NYC. He has been in the jewelry business for about 20 years and owns such high-end jewelry brands as Luccello and Luxurman. As a jewelry expert, he has citations on well-known magazines and newspapers like Insider and Daily Mail.

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