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Buying or selling gold? 5 ways to check yellow metal’s purity

In India, gold jewellery has predominantly been an assessment of status, an icon of prestige and a fundamental part of many rituals. Backed by intricate designs developed over the ages, Indians attach a high emotional value to gold.

Published: September 17, 2016 12:41 PM
In former times, customers were not aware of the various quality segments of gold. It is only after a good number of years that people discovered the rampant malpractices prevalent in the industry, the self-certification by the jeweller too came under the scanner.(Reuters) In former times, customers were not aware of the various quality segments of gold. It is only after a good number of years that people discovered the rampant malpractices prevalent in the industry, the self-certification by the jeweller too came under the scanner.(Reuters)

In India, gold jewellery has predominantly been an assessment of status, an icon of prestige and a fundamental part of many rituals. Backed by intricate designs developed over the ages, Indians attach a high emotional value to gold.

In former times, customers were not aware of the various quality segments of gold. It is only after a good number of years that people discovered the rampant malpractices prevalent in the industry, the self-certification by the jeweller too came under the scanner.

To the uninitiated eye, the purity test of gold can be perplexing. A layman can decipher purity of gold by some simple and basic techniques.

•BIS Hallmark: Hallmarking is a reliable certification and the only standard purity check recognised by the Government of India. To put a check on the erring jewellers, BIS laid out a standard practice for the Jewellers across India. The hallmark is usually found on the inside part of each piece, and will indicate the gold content. Customers get a UIN – Unique Identification Number while buying the Hallmarked Gold which can be cross checked at any Hallmark outlet

•Keratometer: The machine makes use of x rays to detect the exact purity of gold in karats. Customers can easily check purity of your gold yourself and ensure transparency in the system. It accurately determines the element composition of all types of gold, white gold, platinum, silver, palladium, rhodium and related alloys. Keratometer is now widely used by jewellers so that customers can themselves check and determine the purity of gold

•Magnet Test: Another simple way to determine purity at home. Gold is not a magnetic metal, if an item is attracted to a magnet it most likely contains little to no precious metals and is mostly nickel, iron, or a combination of pot metals

•Acid test: Customers can also determine purity by getting it checked at your nearest laboratory. Inexpensive acid test kits for gold and silver are available. Watching the colour change in a drop of acid can reveal whether or not a sample is genuine. However, these acids should be handled carefully as they can permanently discolour the metal no matter how pure it is. Since bullion coins, rounds, and bars are valued for their metal content, not their beauty, discoloration is unlikely to reduce the value of your bullion by more than a small amount. But it’s still wise to use acid testing sparingly and with caution

•Discoloration: It is important to check for discoloration in areas that face constant friction (typically around the edges). If the gold seems to be wearing off and showing a different metal beneath it, you probably have a piece that is only gold plated. If over a period of time your gold Jewellery becomes white, reddish or even black, it means it has been mixed with other alloys or has been gold plated

•Stone test: The simplest and traditional test used by most jewelers is by rubbing the gold jewellery on black stone available across jewellery stores. This is not a full proof method, but most commonly used practice to gauge the purity of gold. When you rub the jewellery you will see a visible gold line on the stone, this is an indication that the jewellery is pure. This test will give you a loose idea of whether or not the item you are testing is actually gold, but it will not tell you the exact karat content of the metal

• Buy-back policies: Always check with the shopkeeper for their buyback policies, many a times shopkeepers will not buy gold at the same rate and they will even deduct labour charges when you come to return pieces.

The industry has undergone a huge paradigm shift, patrons now consider gold as a prospective investment and it gives a further reason to ensure that customers buy the best quality. It is aptly said that risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing. Be wary! Adopt these simple methods to protect your assets and avoid being misled through devious practices.

-Saurabh Gadgil- CMD PNG Jewellers & Director IBJA

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