How do Pawnshops Test Gold?


It’s not possible to determine the quality of gold from a visual inspection alone, and hallmarks aren’t a cast-iron guarantee either. Because of this, most pawnshops may wish to test your gold jewelry.

It is highly likely they will use the acid test.  This is the same test we use when buying gold here at Meriden Pawn.

The acid test (also known as the touchstone test) is the standard for almost all pawnshops and jewelers in the US, it is second to XRF testing (X-Ray Fluorescence testing) which is far more specialist and expensive.  XRF machines can cost $20,000 or more, so you can understand why it’s not all too common.

How does the acid test work?

There are a range of acids that can help you to determine the purity of gold in your jewelry item. The purer the gold, the stronger the acid needed to dissolve it.  These tests use various strengths of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid.  Nitric acid will have no affect on pure-gold, but it will easily distinguish it from fake gold.

First the item is rubbed on a black testing stone.  The gold mark that remains is what is then tested with the acid.

  • A reaction to an acid shows that the gold has lower purity
  • A slight reaction suggests a karat match
  • No reaction suggests a higher purity

Acid testing can be used to test 10k, 14k, 18k and 22k gold.

Acid testing should always use an inconspicuous area of the jewelry item.

If you want to sell your gold for aesthetic value the acid test may not be ideal as it can cause scratching/damage.

It’s a relatively quick and inexpensive way for a buyer to test your gold jewelry.

 

Acid testing safety

Acid testing is safe enough to perform at home, but anyone doing it should definitely use gloves, goggles and take precautions.  These acids can cause skin burns and should be handled and stored safely and securely.

 

You’re in control

If a pawnshop wants to test your gold, the decision should always be yours.  If you don’t feel comfortable with it then that’s totally up to you.