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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Testing Precious Metals for Long-Term Preparations

Original Article



With the current world economic situation, wise people understand that paper money is simply the illusion of money. It is a representation of wealth of which the value can be rapidly manipulated. The US Federal Reserve randomly prints off bills with no commodity backing them, making the only value of these bills the worth that is allowed by the banksters and the elite

So in light of this, how do we save for the rainy days to come?

Once you’ve established the basics of your survival preparedness, you can protect your personal wealth by investing in precious metals. There are many different ways to acquire gold and silver. Here are a few:

• Purchase the pieces from mints or exchanges
• Purchase old pieces of jewelry or coins from yard sales, estate sales, thrift stores and Craigslist
• From trusted sellers on EBay

Mints and exchanges offer a sure thing. These businesses are built on trust and integrity. However when you purchase from everyday people or take a gamble on buying something at the thrift store, you need to be able to identify and test the metals yourself.

1. Look for markings. Jewelry made from precious metals in the US was required to be marked for metal content in 1906. On silver pieces you are looking for the numbers “925” – this indicates that the piece is Sterling Silver or 92.5% silver. If the piece you are considering is gold, you are looking for 10K, 14K, 18K, etc. 24K is 100% gold, and is very soft, so the other numbers are indicative of the gold content that has been mixed with a harder metal to make it less pliable.

2. Inspect the piece carefully. Is it rough near the edges? Is it discoloured in places? Is the finish chipping or flaking? These are all indicators that the piece may only be plated with silver or gold. These items require further testing. (Note: Sterling Silver will “oxidize” and tarnish – don’t be put off by black discolouration. This should wipe off with a soft cloth.)

3. If the piece has been marked, then you will want to test it further. Carry with you a strong magnet. Precious metals are NOT magnetic, nor are the other metals that are used in jewelry to harden them. If the piece of jewelry or coin reacts to the magnet it is not gold or silver.

4. Test it with ceramic. You can purchase a small piece of unglazed ceramic tile at your local hardware store. If you have a piece of questionable gold, run the piece across the ceramic tile. If it leaves a blackish mark, it is not genuine gold.

Once you have performed these quick tests, you may want to go further. There are two more definitive tests – the “Archimedes Test” and the acid test.

Archimedes Test

Break out your physics hat and perform a density test to determine the content of the metal you have on hand. For this you will require a vial marked in millimetres in which you can submerge the item in question.
Do not fill the vial to the top, since you will be displacing water with the jewelry item. Note exactly the amount of water in your container.

Weigh your item on a digital jewelry scale, marking down your result in grams. This is the “mass” of your item.
Place your piece in the vial and note the new water level.
Calculate the difference between the two numbers in millimetres. This is the “volume displacement” of the item.

Use the following formula to calculate density:
Density = mass/volume displacement

Here is a sample calculation:

Your gold item weighs 38 g and it displaces 2 milliLITRES of water. Using the formula of [mass (38 g)]/ [volume displacement (2 ml)], your result would be 19 g/ml, which is very close to the density of pure 24K gold.
Remember that different gold and silver purities will have a different g/ml ratio:
o 14K – 12.9 to 14.6 g/mL
o 18K yellow – 15.2 to 15.9 g/mL
o 18K white – 14.7 to 16.9 g/mL
o 22K – 17.7 to 17.8 g/mL
o 999 Silver – 10.49 g/mL
o 925 Silver – 10.2 to 10.3 g/mL

Nitric Acid Test
This is the most definitive way to test the metal in question. This test is where the saying “passing the acid test” originated.

WARNING: Nitric Acid is highly corrosive. Wear safety eyewear and protective gloves when working with this product. Protect all surfaces that could come into contact with the acid.

To perform an acid test, you will require Nitric Acid, a non-reactive dropper, and a stainless steel container in which to perform the test.

Place your item in the stainless steel container. Using the dropper apply a very tiny drop of acid on a non-exposed part of the item in question. (Remember: If the item is not gold or silver, the acid may permanently mar the finish.)

If you suspect that the item was merely plated, you can make a small scratch in a hidden place in which to test the item.

The acid will turn different colors in reaction to different metal contents:
Cream: 90 to 100% silver
Gray: 77-90% silver
Green: less than 75% precious metal content
No reaction: Gold

Test kits containing the chemicals and instructions can be purchased through Amazon for less than $10.

Finally, when purchasing gold or silver, always trust your instincts. You may not always have access to your testing kit when an opportunity arises. If an item looks suspicious or the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.