During times of economic flux, investing in bullion is a wise move because the price of gold and silver remains relatively stable. However, if you are a first-time buyer for bullion, you might be wary of falling for fakes. After all, such a lucrative market is bound to attract bad faith actors and scammers looking to con people out of their hard-earned money.
With so many stories of counterfeit bullion in the news, it’s understandable that you might be hesitant in buying gold and silver, particularly if you don’t have experience in detecting fakes. Fortunately, there are easy ways by which you can determine the authenticity of bullion coins. These methods can be done quickly and with common household items or inexpensive testing materials.
Check the Size and Weight
Gold and silver have specific weights and densities, and they are much denser compared to other base metals. That means it’s easy to determine whether a bullion coin is real or not based on the thickness and diameter of the coin.
If you have a coin you want to test, you can buy a cheap set of calipers and a jeweler’s scale. You can find verified information regarding the correct thickness and weight of genuine bullion coins online, particularly from trustworthy dealers. You can use these dimensions to test any coins that you have.
You can even go one step further and purchase a Fisch tester. These handy tools can detect fakes through the size, diameter, and weight of the coins. A genuine coin should be small and thin enough to fit into a slot in the tool, while still heavy enough to tip the tool onto its fulcrum.
Check the Sound
Genuine gold and silver coins have a specific sound when struck. The sound should be clear and crisp, compared to a duller and shorter ringing sound that base metals will produce. Think of the difference between the sounds of striking a crystal champagne flute versus a glass champagne flute.
If you don’t trust your hearing, you can download apps on your smartphone that can help distinguish the difference between real and fake bullion coins. These apps are available on both Android and iOS, with the Bullion Test app for the former and the CoinTrust app for the latter.
The Magnet Test
Both real gold and silver are non-magnetic. This is perhaps one of the simplest and quickest tests you can perform at home. Simply get a strong magnet and place it against your bullion coin. If the coin reacts to the magnet, it is fake.
However, keep in mind that some base metals are aluminum and copper are also non-magnetic. It is best to conduct the magnet test in conjunction with other tests to verify the authenticity of your bullion.
One of the most common counterfeits out there either contain tungsten (because of the closeness of tungsten’s density and appearance to gold), as well as fakes that are coated with a thin layer of gold or silver.
The easiest way to avoid these fakes is to remember the old saying, “if something is too good to be true, it probably is.” If you get an offer for bullion that is suspiciously cheap or you feel like there’s something fishy about your transaction, it’s best to trust your gut.
Given the value and allure of bullion, it’s not surprising that there are so many fakes floating around. Of course, the best way to procure genuine bullion coins is to transact with trustworthy dealers that have good reviews and have been in business for a long time. However, you still need to do your research to find good deals for bullion.