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What Does Gold Look Like: How It Appears in Nature

What Does Gold Look Like: How It Appears in Nature

Gold is one of the most expensive substances on earth today. An ounce goes for about $1,800 (as of November ‘21), and everyone wants to own some. That's why the gold buying and selling business is booming around the world. People are investing in gold jewelry, bars, coins, and various other forms of it.

Besides those that are investing in refined gold, some are looking for it in its raw form. These treasure hunters spend years looking for gold, but only a fraction succeed. If you are passionate about gold hunting or would like to do it as a hobby, you can throw your hat in the ring.

However, it will help to remember that all that glitters isn't necessarily gold. Thus, it's vital to know how to identify gold and differentiate it from its look-alikes. This is what this article is all about. Read it till the end before excitement blinds you to think that you found real gold.

Here's all you should know.

What Does Gold Look Like in Nature?

Everyone can recognize gold after it gets refined and used to make various items. However, this isn't easy to do when gold is in its raw form. In its natural environment, gold has an entirely different color from what we see in gold bars, coins, jewelry, etc.

But then, there are other minerals that, in their natural form, look like refined gold. Thus, it can be easy to think that such minerals are real gold if you encounter them while hunting gold. These other minerals, sometimes found together with gold in ore, may also be valuable or not.

Gold-bearing ore is a naturally occurring rock-like material that contains gold. Remember, gold deposits lie in between hard rocks deep in the earth. And the process of extracting them from their natural state isn't easy. It requires you to separate the gold from many other metals, as we mentioned earlier.

This makes it almost impossible to identify gold in its natural state visually. An ore contains gold in negligible amounts, which makes it difficult to see it with naked eyes. Thus, the safest way is to conduct several experiments that we'll discuss in more detail later in this article. 

How To Identify It: Gold’s True Color and Texture 

It's vital to know the color and texture of gold. This will help you understand how to recognize it should you squeeze it out of its ore. Well, color is one of the first factors that can help you identify real gold. You should be able to recognize fake gold from afar by just looking at it before getting into details.

If you think a substance is gold, start by confirming that it has a brassy yellow color. It also has to be bright when shaded. You should be out in the sun, place it in one hand and put a shade over it with another hand. Real gold will still appear bright even with a shade over it.

Real gold also has a smoothened surface and edges. As it tumbles through rivers, it hits rock and debris that makes it smooth and shiny. However, many other minerals can have the same texture. Thus, you need to combine this with color to know if it is real gold or not.

How To Test if Gold Is Real

Gold has various factors that can help you differentiate it from other minerals. This is whether it is in its natural form or refined and made into the bars sold by dealers like Acre. Here are four major elements to look for in what you suspect to be gold.

Contrast Color 

As mentioned before, color is one of the most prominent identifiers of gold. A buttery color that glows in light could mean that what you have is gold. It maintains its distinct color even when refined. But refining makes it look shinier and polished than it looks in its natural color.

Gold can also change color when mixed with different substances. For instance, it will turn red if you combine it with iron. It will also appear orange if you mix it with copper. It would retain its shiny color if you mixed a significant amount. These are the essential elements you can use for identification.

Compare weight 

Another factor that can help you recognize gold is weight. Gold is heavier than many other minerals. Most of the shiny minerals that may look like gold at first glance cannot match a real gold's weight. Some are far lighter than any other stone you can pick on a path.

But then, gold and a stone of the same size cannot have similar weights. You can feel the difference by holding them in your hands. Gold is heavier than a stone by far. You can also feel its extreme weight even after being refined into a gold bar, coin, etc.

How Does It Reflect Light? 

You can also test gold by trying to reflect light on its surface. Most of the fake gold in the market will fail this test. Instead of glowing when shone with light, it reflects it like a mirror. Real gold doesn't reflect light; instead, it will glow nicely and be easy on your eye.

As mentioned earlier, you can try to put a shade over it. If it is fake, the brightness will disappear, and it will look dull and drab. Real gold, on the contrary, will retain its glow under a shade though it will look a bit diluted. This test is easy and will be highly effective for an investor.

Squeeze It 

This is one of the best verifiers that you found real gold. If the substance you have passes the other tests, this could help you sum everything up. Well, gold doesn't crack, break or snap if you apply some impact on it, whether raw or refined. So you can try squeezing it a bit.

Naturally, it will compact like clay when you apply some pressure on it. It is naturally soft and malleable, two main characteristics that differentiate it from other metals. If it is moldable like clay, then there's a high chance that it is gold. 

How To Avoid Fake Gold: Advanced Detection Techniques 

There are more advanced techniques to help you check if gold is real. You can proceed to test it with these four tests if unconvinced with the basic tests. The advanced tests below will help you avoid getting scammed with fake gold. Read on.

Metallographic Analysis 

This lab assessment can help you identify genuine and fake gold. Experts know the properties of gold, and they compare their typical characteristics with what they see under a microscope. This process entails the use of energy-dispersive x-ray analysis to find these properties.

This technique has been highly efficient in the past. Its wide usage has seen it also gets used in the detection of fake silver and other metals. You won't go wrong if you have the right skills.

Fire Assay

This is an ancient technique that never goes out of fashion. Many people still use it in modern times to detect fake gold. It is a two-step process that involves melting and weighing a sample of the suspected gold substance. It is also highly effective and can bring the desired results.

Melting and Sampling Spectrum Detection

Although this method requires more time, money, and effort, it is worthwhile. You may need a sample of real gold, another of the suspected gold, and a differential scanning calorimeter. With this test, you focus more on the behaviors of the two samples when you apply heat on them.

The heating properties of real and fake heat vary. So, you can note any differences when comparing the two side by side. It is a simple yet efficient way of testing gold since it only requires observation.

Smelting Identification 

You can also try to melt a gold-bearing ore using Superbmelt gold melting equipment. This method aims at melting the various substances contained in the ore. You'll expect gold if there's any to melt out of the ore when carrying out smelting.

This is the best technique to help you identify items coated with fake gold. If you smelt them, other metals like copper, zinc, etc., will melt out but not your metal of interest - gold. This is a method that's been in use for years, and it can help you get the desired results


Identifying gold is one challenging task. If you want to buy gold, you need to test it to verify real gold. Unless you buy from a reputable dealer like Acre, it's easy to invest in an invaluable substance that looks like gold. This also is an issue for people who hunt for gold.

This article has simplified the process of identifying gold. You can use the tips discussed in this article to confirm whether what you have is genuine gold. There are both basic and advanced tips to help you with this process. You can shorten this lengthy process by buying real gold from us.



Gold Ore - an overview | sciencedirect

What Gives Gold Different Colours | 911metallurgist 

The Ultimate Guide on Gold Purity Measurements | oxfordgoldgroup