How It Works

Let's face it, Gold is the most valuable and sought after precious metal in the world. It has been prized above all other metals centuries and will probably always hold its value. But with that value, frauds and forgeries can sometimes be lurking around the corner. Testing the purity and value of any precious metal is crucial to verify the true value of any item. At Halifax Gold we test your gold right in front of you so there wont be any surprises.

Some gold buyers and dealers test gold to protect themselves from any loss or mistake. At Halifax Gold, we test your items so you feel comfortable with the content and purity of your items and so that you can make an informed decision on whether to sell your pieces.

The one drawback with gold’s use in industry is that it is relatively soft. To combat its weakness, gold is usually alloyed with other metals such as silver, copper, platinum or nickel. Gold alloys are measured by karats. A karat is a unit equal to 1/24 part of pure gold in an alloy. In other words, 24 karat gold is pure gold, while 18 karat gold is 18 parts gold to 6 parts other metal.


As you arrive at our location, you will be greeted in a friendly manner by one of our buyers. There is typically little or no wait.

Sorting by Karat

The first thing we do is sort out items that are clearly not gold or silver. To do this we use a super strong Earth Magnet. This is not a refrigerator magnet, but an incredibly powerful permanent magnet made from alloys of rare earth elements. The reason we use this is because gold and silver are not magnetic. This helps us quickly sort out some imposters. However, there are many non-valuable metals that are also non-magnetic, so this test is by no means the end.

The second step in sorting involves checking for stamps. Many stamps are visible to the naked eye but a number are stamped on the tiny posts of earrings or are too worn down to make out. In this case we use a jewellers loop which gives 20x magnification. Stamps tell you what the item is sold as and is a fairly reliable way of identifying the gold purity. However, it is not rare to find an item stamped as one purity that is not even gold! We will group the stamped items into grids on our desk and those that are unstamped will be placed to the side.


There are several steps and processes to determine the value of gold and the purity. Some of the most common and industry standard processes are used by us at Halifax Gold to determine the value and purity of your items. Some testing is fairly simple and can be done in the comforts of your own home, while others use acids and complex equipment.

We’ve taken the time to briefly outline and describe some of the steps taken to test gold and silver.

  1. Rub the piece of jewelery or the item across a piece of unglazed porcelain tile. It should not leave a black streak across the porcelain. If it does then the piece is pyrite. If the streak is golden yellow, then it is gold.
  2. A Moh’s scale can be used to determine the hardness of the metal in the jewelery or item. Gold has a hardness of approximately 2.5 to 3 on the Moh’s scale. Glass on the other hand has a hardness of 5.5.
  3. Hold a magnet near the item. If the magnet attracts the gold piece, then there are other metals mixed in the gold and it is not pure.
  4. Acid testing is a common practice when testing gold. Place a small drop of hydrochloric or sulfuric acid on the item. If the gold begins to dissolve, then there is some other type of metal mixed with the gold.

Having the ability to test the purity is crucial for anyone involved in buying or selling gold or silver. A jewelry item that is stamped 10k, 14k or 18k does not necessarily mean it contains that type of gold. Fakes do exist in the gold market. With the price of gold hitting all time highs, greed and dishonesty can be evident in the industry.

Occasionally a lower quality of gold may be stamped with a higher grade marking, or other times it may not be gold at all, but rather layered with gold in such a way that it is not immediately apparent that it is plated. It’s important to test your items to protect yourself and your investment from forgeries and some of the unscrupulous buyers and dealers that are out in the marketplace. At Halifax Gold, our testing is done in full view, explained and verified to each and every client and customer.

Scratch Testing

Gold Scratch Test

Scratch the item on a smooth black acid testing stone. Next to item’s mark, items that are confirmed to be 10k, 12, 14, are scratched as well. A small drop of acid is placed on the stone along the scratch marks. If the item is the same karat or higher, the colour of the scratch mark for the item will appear the same as the mark from the confirmed piece.

18K acid can be applied to the scratch on the stone. Any gold that is less than 18K will disappear in less than 30 seconds. Gold that remains on the stone is 18K or higher.

X-Ray Fluorescence Testing

If visual and scratch testing methods do not confirm clear results, items can be tested by an X-ray fluorescence scan. The machine used for this test is an incredibly powerful and remarkably expensive state-of-the-art device capable of providing detailed analysis by measuring the intensity of the generated gold X-rays by wavelength dispersion analysis. When testing is complete, a full report indicates the percentages of gold content as well as other alloying metals such as copper, silver, zinc, etc. This method is remarkably accurate.

Testing Silver

A drop of appropriate acid is placed on a discreet section of the silver item. If the spot shows a creamy colour, it is 90 to 100% silver. A gray colour indicates 77-90% silver and a light green colour means the item is 65 to 75% silver.

If you have any questions about testing before you send in your items or stopping by one of our locations, please feel free to call us.


Once all the items have been sorted by karat, we begin weighing the items on a scale. The scale is calibrated twice daily and you can ask to have it recalibrated if you like. Our scale will show you the true weight of your items in grams. Typically we weigh all items identified at a particular karat together but can also weigh individual items for you.

If items have stones or inserts we will subtract the estimated weight of those stones. Gems the size of 1 carat diamonds will weigh approximately 0.2 grams. We assess the rough size and number of stones in the items and subtract this weight from our estimate. For example, if a piece has 4 small stones of the 1/10th carat size we will subtract 4 times 1/10th of 0.2 grams (ie. 0.08 grams). This is only an estimate to provide an initial quote to you. If your diamonds or gemstones are large enough to have significant resale value (typically diamonds larger than 0.25 carats), we will pay for these stones as well! Please click here to read about our diamond buying services.


Our prices are based on the current market price of gold and silver. Please reference “What We Pay” for more detail as to how these prices are set. We have yet to find anyone offering higher prices in Halifax. Your payout is based on the purity (karat) and the weight of your items. We will provide our estimates to you and you will select which items you would like to sell. There is no commitment on your part.

Some large items may not be solid gold or silver. These items are tricky as they can be thickly plated, filled with weights or something of the like. A final test before payment may be required by the buyer to confirm the item is not fraudulent. This can involve cutting the piece and damaging the piece beyond repair. We will ask you before these types of tests. Essentially we have agreed to pay the quoted price if the item is not fraudulent. If you do not wish to have the test performed on your item, we will be happy to return it to you, but will not be able to purchase the item.

Stone removal and payment

Once you are 100% happy with the quote and have agreed to sell your items, the buyer will remove any easily removable stones and inserts and will do their best to remove any that you specifically request. On the open market small used stones have little to no value but you may be able to use them in the design of future jewelry. Once stones and inserts have been removed, the items are re-weighed to confirm the quote and the offer is adjusted accordingly. There is no cost added for the testing or estimates as you may find elsewhere, and you will be paid on the spot without any hidden fees.

To make things safer for us and for you, we have moved to a cheque-only business. Our cheques can be deposited directly into your account. Should you need cash right away, our branch of the Royal Bank of Canada can cash cheques up to $3000 (there is a $5 fee if you are not an RBC customer).

Thank you for your business

We want to thank you for your business and hope we have helped clarify what to expect when you choose to deal with Halifax Gold. If you have the time, we encourage you to shop around. We expect you to find us to be the most honest and upfront gold buyer with the highest payout for your gold and silver – guaranteed. Should you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to call us.