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Also make sure to view the instructional video below, which explains each test in greater detail and shows actual testing of a real vs. fake American Silver Eagle coin.
Counterfeit Gold and Silver Bullion
Over the last few years, the increase of counterfeit bullion pieces permeating the precious metals industry has raised great concern among consumers and industry professionals alike. After all, such incidents could not only jeopardize the financial future of the investor, but they could also harm the reputation of the precious metal dealer distributing those pieces. Fortunately, customers can save themselves a lot of uncertainty by simply conducting a series of experiments to verify the authenticity of their gold or silver bullion pieces. Listed below are several tests that can be performed either by the customers themselves or with the help of a professional.
Weight is perhaps the clearest indication of whether or not your bullion piece is counterfeit. Place your bullion piece on a scale and note its weight. Please be advised that if there is even the slightest discrepancy in its actual weight than those inscribed in its markings, you can be certain that your piece is counterfeit. Attempting to misrepresent the weight or purity of any precious metal bullion is a criminal offense and no reputable mint would ever risk making such an egregious error.
If the weight of your bullion matches those imprinted upon it, the next step is to fill a dish or container with distilled water. (Make sure it is large enough to hold your bullion piece.) Remove your bullion piece from the scale and set it aside. Place the container of water unto the scale and zero it. Immerse your bullion piece in the water completely, but don’t let it touch the bottom of the container. Observe the weight. Divide its original weight by its newly submerged weight. If it is genuine pure silver, the SG should be 10.49 g. For pieces of pure gold, the final quotient should be 19.32 g. Any other sums indicate another form of metal.
Another simple way to distinguish a counterfeit bullion piece is to measure its dimensions. In order to conduct this test, you need the regulated measurements for your specific bullion piece and a caliper. A caliper is a device used by professionals in the precious metals industry to obtain the most precise measurements possible. These can be purchased online and range anywhere between $15 and $30 USD. Using the caliper, measure both the diameter and width of your bullion. Because all coins and rounds are produced by machines that press liquid metal into identical molds, there should be no variation between the actual and specified measurements. Any variations suggest that the piece is a counterfeit.
Ice Cube Test
The ice cube test determines whether a piece of silver bullion is genuine by measuring its thermal conductivity. Simply, place the ice on top of the bullion or coin and observe how fast it melts. Since silver has one of the highest levels of thermal conductivity, the ice should begin melting instantly upon placement. However, if it takes a long time for the ice to melt or if nothing happens, it is most likely not real silver.
The “Ping” Test
The “ping” test allows you to confirm the authenticity of your bullion by assessing its tonal quality. If it is composed from genuine silver or gold, the bullion piece should produce a distinct “chime” when struck. Begin by obtaining a small nonabrasive piece of metal. Gently strike it against the bullion piece. There should be an audible ringing that lasts for approximately 1-2 seconds. If it produces a “clunk” or any other cumbersome non-ringing sound, the bullion piece is not authentic.
This particular test indicates whether a coin or piece of bullion is composed from genuine silver or gold by examining its chemical reaction to acid. Acid test kits can be purchased online staring at approximately $14 USD. Customers are advised to read the instructions thoroughly prior to conducting this test as improper use could not only cause damage their bullion piece, but could also result in personal injury.
Begin by applying the acid to your bullion as prescribed in the instructions. Then, wait for a change in color to the application site. If you observe either a red, brown or green color, the bullion is composed of real silver or gold. Any other colors indicate that the piece is not genuine.
Because silver and gold are diamagnetic metals, measuring the magnetic attraction of your bullion and coins will allow you to find out if its composition is pure or if it is a mixed alloy. Start by obtaining a magnet and carefully hovering it over the bullion. If you sense any pull of attraction between them, the bullion is undoubtedly composed of another metal. It is worth noting, however, that there are many metals other than gold and silver that are not magnetic, so be sure to conduct a number of other tests before confirming that the piece is genuine.
Ultrasound machines provide another means of verifying the authenticity of your bullion by allowing you to measure how quickly the sound waves pass through it. Every metal will have a distinct sound wave speed, so identifying a counterfeit is fairly straightforward. Unfortunately, because such machines can be rather expensive and difficult to operate, we recommend that customers find a professional to conduct this type of examination.
Preventive Measures by the Precious Metals Industry
To further ensure that their customers are purchasing authentic bullion, many prestigious mints have taken it upon themselves to employ new preventive measures that make the act of creating counterfeit pieces more difficult. For instance, the Royal Canadian Mint has begun including radial designs and fine inscriptions on their Silver Maple Leaf Coins that make them more challenging to replicate. Other mints, such as the Geiger Edelmetalle Mint and the Sunshine Mint have chosen to take advantage of our technological advances and added holographic images to their bullion that can only be observed under UV Lights or special decoder lenses. Some mints have even gone as far as developing “Bullion DNA Anti-Counterfeiting Technology” that enables the dealer to scan an engraved security code and send it directly to the mint for verification. Such security measures help dealers to identify counterfeits in advance, so that they can remove those pieces from their inventory of sales merchandise.
Best Protection Against Purchasing Counterfeit Bullion Pieces
Ultimately, the best way to ensure that your gold and silver bullion is genuine is to purchase them from a reputable dealer. This is where we at Silver.com can provide some assistance. At Silver.com, we spare our customers from the additional time and expenses of having to confirm the authenticity of their coins and bullion by providing them with all the necessary verification at the time of their purchase. We believe that being able to purchase your precious metals in complete confidence not only saves you from a lot of unnecessary trouble, but also allows you to concentrate on other, more important aspects of the investment process. If you would like to learn more about how Silver.com verifies the authenticity of your merchandise, please give us a call at 888-989-7223. We will also be happy to assist you via live chat or online form submissions.