Spare Jewelry Laying Around? How To See If It’s Worth Money

home tests to see if your jewelry is real

Many people wear and collect jewelry, and sometimes it's easy to end up with a box full of jewelry you haven't touched in years. If that's the case, you might consider cashing in some of that jewelry for some extra money. Gold and silver can be sold at many different locations, and most places will write you a check right there for your jewelry. But how do you know if what you have is gold or silver, or just plated metal? There are a few home tests to see if your jewelry is real.


Gold is a precious metal, and its value is always high. It's not uncommon for people to take in a few chains to a gold buyer and walk out with a hundred or more dollars. While prices fluctuate, gold is consistently valuable. But how do you know if what you have is gold? Here are a few tests you can do.

  • Sink or Swim – Gold does not float, so if you put your gold jewelry into a container of water and it floats, it's likely gold plated and not worth anything. If it sinks, you might have a winner.
  • Upon Inspection – Grab a magnifying glass and inspect the piece of jewelry for markings indicating 10K, 14K, 18K, 22K, or 24K. Usually these markings are on the inside of rings, the tab near the clasp of necklaces, and on the wire or back or earrings.
  • True Colors – Look for signs of discoloration, particularly on areas that would be in close contact with skin. True gold does not show discoloration or tarnish, so if your piece is black, green, or another color, it might be plated.
  • Magnetic Connection – Get a strong magnet, not just a refrigerator magnet, and see if the gold metal you're looking at is magnetic. True gold is not.


Silver is another popular metal that ranges in purity from 0 to .999, and while it isn't worth nearly as much as gold, it can still earn you some cash if you have quite a bit of it. Fine silver is worth more than sterling, but usually both can be sold. Here are some ways to see if your silver is real or not.

  • Magnetic – Like gold, silver is not magnetic.
  • Discoloration – Also like gold, silver usually doesn't tarnish. If it's worn or dirty it might look a little rugged, but it should never turn black or green to the point where cleaning it won't make it look like new.
  • Marked For Life – While the markings on silver jewelry are different than gold, there should still be a marking somewhere on the piece from 0 to .999. Time can wear this off, however, so if it passes the other tests you still may have silver.

No home test is truly foolproof, though, so be sure to take your jewelry in to see if you've got the real thing. Gold jewelry that is sitting around at home isn't earning you any money, but taking it in might just fund your next shopping trip – or vacation. You never know what you have until you get it checked out, so always double check with a professional.


written by:  Tricia Borren


photo courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul,

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