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Analyze this: Why testing metal content matters

By Jonathan Margalit

xray-mainThe jewellery you just bought from a stranger looks like gold and acid tests might even indicate that’s what it is. But are you sure? More and more, jewellers are falling victim to a scam involving a metal alloy similar to stainless steel.

Even in the face of decades of experience, veteran jewellers are being duped by this unpleasant and downright costly trick.

The scam rarely deviates from the following. A suspect enters a jewellery store or pawn shop with what they allege is an 18-karat gold bracelet, necklace, or ring, hoping to sell it for cash. Since most jewellery consists of either 14-karat or 18-karat gold, a con artist is likely to maximize his profit by trying to sell a piece that looks to be 18-karat. The higher the ‘detected’ karat value, the bigger the criminal’s cashed-in ‘profit.’

The jeweller performs an acid test, which usually identifies the metal as 18-karat gold and a transaction ensues. (Interestingly, a further test with a 22-karat gold acid may reveal the piece is indeed gold-plated stainless steel.) Believing the item is truly 18-karat gold, the jeweller purchases the piece and the criminal walks away with hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.

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