1 June 2016

Identifying Fake Gold Bars

In the past we have written about fake gold bars and how investors can identify the authenticity of Gold and Silver bullion. With the overall increase in demand for physical Gold and Silver we wanted to provide an update so that CelticGold readers understand the basics of how to identify counterfeit products.

The fake gold bars danger is very real now. From observation in the last years until today we can identify three generations of fake gold and silver products.

The current, third generation of fake products is well crafted and can’t be identified with the naked eye. In the following article we will expand on counterfeiting methods and how to identify them.

Some of the information provided in this article is technical in nature. For many of you it may not be necessary to invest in the equipment to test your metals for authenticity.

The important take away from the article is to understand that the best way to guard against counterfeit gold and silver products is to only buy through reputable bullion companies who have the testing equipment and overall track record in the industry.

We also recommend you read the CelticGold.eu article that talks about how to select a good bullion company to work with. The link is below.

Link to How to identify a good bullion company article

Introduction to Physical Gold and Silver and Conflicting Interests

The first thing to understand is that the threat of counterfeits should not deter investors from owning Gold and Silver. We can’t stress enough that only the physical ownership of the precious metals will protect your wealth from currency destruction by incompetent bankers and politicians.

You have to understand that there are a lot of conflicting interests out there, and these different interest groups do not want you to own physical gold and silver. Now, the elite bankers that really drive the show know all about the history of money and gold.

Don’t let yourselves be fooled and believe that these people are completely stupid. They are clever and they are trained and expert liars, with convincing and well crafted words to send you in the wrong direction. So you have to be aware that these bankers (the powers that be) have invested in physical gold and silver a long time ago and they have an agenda to wipe out your savings.

Once you know you need to directly own physical gold and silver products, you need to be sure to get the “real deal”.

 

(Photo from AuroTest)

Counterfeiting Methods and Alloys

The above photo shows a tungsten filled gold bar. As the specific weight from tungsten with 19.25 g/cm3 is close to gold with 19.284 g/cm3. It is therefore the preferred material for counterfeiting gold products.

It takes a lot of skill and machinery to produce the current third generation counterfeit coins and bars. The packing and so called security features are near perfect, even holograms are faked to perfection.

The biggest challenge is to test through the protective packing without damaging the overall product. As this would result in a lower re-sale value because customers demand certificates and protective packing.

Please see below a summary with table of the different counterfeiting generations and materials used:

 


1st Generation

(1960 to 2000)

2nd Generation

(2000 to 2015)

3rd Generation

from 2015

Gold Coins

Colored Copper-Tungsten Alloys CuW80 (22k coins)

Gold plated Silver-Tungsten Alloys, better look

AgW85

Gold Bars

Tungsten Core

Tungsten Rods, Gold plated Tungsten, Tungsten Alloys,


Small Bars: Gold plated Brass

Perfect Kinegrams, packing and certificates

Silver Coins

Brass, silver coating

Brass, silver coating

Silver Bars

Lead filled, silver coating

Tin, silver coating

Tin, silver coating

 

The table shows in the columns three generations of counterfeits. In the first generation banks and investors may have seen tungsten filled gold bars, just like shown above on the picture.

These counterfeits may be still inside some vaults from the cold war. Fake first generation Gold and Silver coins were not very common up until the year 2000. However, Silver bars were faked, filled with lead and coated with silver.

In the second generation from the year 2000 to about 2015 the bullion industry saw copper colored -tungsten fake gold coins such as the Krugerrand. These coins can be identified easily as the color and print varies widely from the original.

One of the more interesting developments is that counterfeit 1g gold bars were found in Germany made from brass inside a fake protective packing. People in countries that experience economic and financial challenges have historically turned to Gold for trade. So it is no wonder that a majority of these fake 1g bars are circulating in Ukraine for example.

The current 3rd generation counterfeit gold and silver products are of a higher quality, usually having a better look and feel, as the outside materials are gold and silver. Some of the fakes are so good that determining whether their “real or fake” with the naked eye is not possible.

Destruction Free Gold and Silver Testing Methods for Home Use

The Nitric Acid Test

The acid test can be bought online and used on the surface of the product. A colored or alloyed fake product can be identified easily with this low-cost testing method on the surface.

 

Advantages:

  • Low Cost

  • Fast

  • Easy to use

Disadvantages

  • Tests only the surface

  • Cannot be tested through protective packing without destroying it

  • Cannot detect plated or filled counterfeits

 

Weighing and Measuring

Each gold and silver product has unique measurements that can be found in any product description on CelticGold.eu, Wikipedia, etc. Should a material contain a widely varying density than gold or silver, the weight will be less with the same measurements or the weight will be the same with varying measurements. For example diameter or thickness will be different from the original measurements.  

The next issue with weighing is that one needs a fine scale as even the slightest air movements will result in a different weight. So always perform several measurements, write them down and average out five to ten results.

Dive Weighting

Dive Weighing is a very accurate method that requires a proper setup and preparation. It cannot be done in a few minutes.

Here’s a testing process for a 1oz Krugerrand gold coin for you at home: Put a glass of room temperature purified water on the scale. Zero (Tara) the balance and dive the coin/bar into the water. Don’t spatter any water nor touch it. Dividing the diving weight by the gross weight, you get the density.

Depending on the purity of the coin/bar the density should be close to 19.32 g/cm3. The coin will have a submerged weight of 1.92 g. Through dividing by the gross weight of the Krugerrand coin of 33.93 g, we obtain 17.68 g/cm3.

Gold with a purity level of 900/1000 has a density of approximately 17.5 g/cm3. The Krugerrand is 22k or 917/1000 pure, so the specific weight should also be higher.




Pro’s

Con’s

Weighing & Measuring

  • Mobile Use Possible

  • Detects fakes with lower density alloys

  • Low Cost

  • Cannot detect tungsten counterfeit gold products

  • Fine Scales are sensitive to air movements

Dive Weighing

  • Detects fakes with lower density

  • Low Cost

  • Hard setup

  • Time consuming

  • Cannot detect tungsten fakes

 

Ping Test and Checking Templates

Another good way to test gold and silver coins is the ping test. This is an effective test for 22k gold coins, because 22k coins have a very unique sound. The ping test can be performed while putting the coin on the tip of your forefinger and then softly bang another coin onto it. A real coin will make “piiiiiinnnnngggg” while a tungsten fake will make “clock”.

Checking Templates

Checking instruments such as “the Fisch” or Gold Coin Balance offer precision templates for each common coins to check diameter, thickness and weight. These products will detect fakes made from steel, brass, copper and lead.

Depending on how many of these testing templates you purchase the investment for these individual templates may turn out to be as much as $500.

Advantages

  • Detects common fake coins from 1/10oz to 1oz

  • Fast and precise

Disadvantages

  • Cannot be used for bars

  • Cannot be used for higher weights

  • Higher purchasing costs

After talking about home use methods to test gold and silver coins and bars, let’s discuss now what the bullion industry uses to test products.

 

Professional Gold and Silver Testing Instruments in the Bullion Industry

Magnetic Scale

The magnetic scale is a stationary fine scale with a strong magnet that precisely identifies magnetic differential weights of the weighed product. In other words, gold is not magnetic but common materials used for counterfeits such as tungsten, tantalum, rhenium, hafnium, iridium, steel and nickel are either paramagnetic or ferromagnetic.

Should an object to be tested contain one of the above materials a differential weight will be displayed. If the product is genuine the weight displayed will be within the given tolerances.

Fake materials will be detected immediately, there is no adjustment or calibration necessary.

Advantages

  • Fast & Precise

  • Detects all magnetic materials, filled and/or alloys

  • Testing through protective packing possible

Disadvantages

  • Higher purchasing cost

  • To be used only stationary

  • Not suitable for higher weight bullion products above 250g

 

Conductivity Test

The conductivity test has derived from material testing in aviation. Each metal and their alloys, just as the density, have a unique conductivity measured in MS/m. An electric signal is sent into the product to be tested and with the receipt of the signal the conductivity is measured. The conductivity is measured even through protective plastic packing.

 

Common materials used for counterfeiting gold and silver products have a widely different conductivity as the following table shows:

 


Gold

Silver

Tungsten

Lead

Copper

Density

19.28 g/cm3

10.49 g/cm3

19.25 g/cm3

11.34 g/m3

8.92g/cm3

Conductivity

44.7 MS/m

61.35 MS/m

18.52 MS/m

4.76 MS/m

58.1 MS/m

 

The conductivity test allows for fast and precise testing of precious metal products. Alloys and plated counterfeits are easily detected. Even higher weight Gold products up to 500 grams and Silver coins and bars up to 1 kilo can be tested.

 

Advantages

  • Fast & Precise

  • Detects all counterfeit materials, filled and/or alloys

  • Testing through protective packing possible

  • Mobile Use possible

Disadvantages

  • Higher purchasing cost

  • Not suitable for bigger bullion products above 500g

 

Ultrasound

As said above in the conductivity test, each metal and their alloys have unique properties. Sonic wave velocity is another method that relies on the uniqueness of Gold and Silver.

 


Gold

Silver

Tungsten

Lead

Copper

Density

19.28 g/cm3

10.49 g/cm3

19.25 g/cm3

11.34 g/m3

8.92g/cm3

Conductivity

44.7 MS/m

61.35 MS/m

18.52 MS/m

4.76 MS/m

58.1 MS/m

Sonic Wave Velocity

3,251 m/s

2,600 m/s

5,174 m/s

1,260 m/s

3,570 m/s

 

In the above table we can see an added line with sonic wave velocity properties of metals. For example, gold has a sonic wave velocity of 3,251 m/s and tungsten has 5,174 m/s. A tungsten filled gold bar will return the signal much faster than a pure gold bar.

A lead filled silver bar for example will return an ultrasound signal much later than a pure silver bar because lead has 1,260 m/s compared to silver with 2,600 m/s.

Advantages

  • Detects all counterfeit materials, filled and/or alloys

  • Testing through protective packing possible with special sensor head

  • Mobile Use possible

  • Suitable for bigger bullion products above 500g up to 400oz = 12.5 kilo

Disadvantages

  • Higher purchasing cost

  • Time consuming setup

 

Summary

At CelticGold we use all three of the above described testing methods. In addition to weighing and measuring we guarantee authenticity for each product.

Keep in mind that In times of economic challenges gold and silver will be used as legal tender. As a result, merchants and investors need to be sure to trade authentic products. A reputable bullion company has the professional testing equipment and will screen each single piece that customers sell back. And can therefore guarantee authenticity.

 

Safe and sound physical gold and silver investing is the high road to financial safety; always bought through a reputable bullion company. Media reports from professional bullion companies or jewellers that got scammed are mostly hype as the industry is equipped with the above described tools to verify the authenticity of each and every bullion product.


Author: celticgold.eu

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