How real is your gold bangle?

A friend recently told me this story, and I thought it was worth sharing here. My friend was at a jewelery shop in Delhi, and a lady came there to sell her gold bangles. After weighing the gold, finalizing the gold rate, negotiating the deductions – the jeweler said that they will cut through the bangle before buying it.

Apparently, this is common practice and jewelers do this while buying gold ornaments that weren’t sold by them.

When they did cut the bangle in half – the lady was stunned to see that a copper wire ran through it, and it wasn’t pure gold like she thought it was all these years!

I was amazed to hear this story because I’ve never heard anything like this before, and I don’t think my family has ever done any test on their gold, so who knows how much copper they will find! I just hope this is an exception and doesn’t happen all that often, especially when you buy from reputed jewelers.

Some time ago a reader had left a comment about a jeweler telling him that his gold has lost its purity in the locker, and though my knowledge about gold jewelery is very limited, this sounds like a case where the jeweler was misleading the reader.

Niraj Kothari – a regular commenter on gold related matters here, answered that comment and also provided some information on how you can get your gold purity tested. I think that’s very useful information for people wondering about that kind of thing, and I’m pasting his comment below (with minor editing) as regular readers may not have come across that comment.

Dear Mr.Nole,

Firstly I would like to clarify some myths which exists in the market for gold jewellery

1. GOLD no matter whatever purity you buy will never get impure / corroded/ degraded / decrease or increase in weight even 0.o5o grams, if you keep it in a safe place even for 100 years, it is this property of gold that has made it valuable.

So, the jeweler who advised you that your purity of gold changed while you kept in the locker for a while is incorrect.
The purity of gold when you buy it from a jeweller will remain same and will never change with time, if someone says that the gold is of less purity than you had bought it, then it implies that the jeweller from where you bought the gold has sold you gold less than the assured purity.

Now , concerning your point of testing your jewellery through a spectrometer, as you rightly mentioned spectrometer / karotometer ( commonly used ) are very costly and the pricing of karotometer ranges between 6 lakhs to 12 lakhs!.

So how a common man should get his jewellery tested?

Government of India has recognised BIS hallmarking centres across India. These centres are usually located in main wholesale / retail jewellery market areas of a city, like in Chennai it should be located near T Nagar.

You can walk into these hallmarking centres with your jewellery and ask them to test the jewellery for the purity which jeweller has assured you.

During the testing the hallmarking centres are required to cut upto 0.100 – 0.200 grams behind every product and subject it to different gold testing methods like

1. Fire assay test.
2. Spectrometer test
3. Nitric Acid and Touchstone scratch test

They then take an average of all these different methods of testing and give you a certificate of purity for the jewellery product which you have given, and they also give you the 0.100 – 0.300 grams of gold back which they had taken from your ornament in the form of pure gold.

These reports are completely unbiased and authentic from a government recognised hallmarking centre. The charges are Rs.20 / per product or piece. The process requires between 3 – 5 hours.

Note: Kindly confirm the process with BIS hallmarking centre of your city before handing over your products for testing.

Link to BIS

I wasn’t aware of what Niraj has mentioned at all, and have no experience with this, so it was a good thing for me to learn, and I’ll be interested to hear if anyone has used this method, or if you’ve ever faced any other issues with your gold jewelery?

13 thoughts on “How real is your gold bangle?”

  1. i am also it seem befooled, when i purchased gold.on 09.10.12 from Amba jewellers lajpat nagar, new delhi of 22 carat. the cash memo they given me has left blank colmn of gold purity n rate of gold per gm.

  2. There is no point of buying or selling everyday jewelery – it is not worth it. When they selling they charge you for the work, when you sell it – it is only gold that worth anything and, at a discount.

    If anybody consider a shelter against inflation, it has to be gold from a bank – tangible pieces, certified and weighted. However this would be hardly way to financial independence.

    1. I’m curious to know what you mean by fake gold? Like claiming something is 22 carat when it is actually only 18, or something even worse than that?

  3. Hi Manshu,

    Found this article very informative and helpful too.Thanks for the great information.

    But I want to know whether we can avail such service before purchasing gold jewellery?
    After purchasing obviously it makes no sense to get to know that gold we have purchased is of inferior quality than what was promised to us in the first stance.
    I mean the jewellers should some have some direct linkages to these authenticating centers to authorise their jewellery.

    1. That’s a good point, though I don’t know how you could use this service before buying the gold, as these folks do some pretty extensive tests by taking out some gold from the piece. But if it’s done not too long after the purchase I think you could still confront the jeweler, and demand an answer.

  4. Even I get pretty suspicious about the gold business around. They charge something like 20% extra over the prevailing 22K gold price that includes making charges, wastage. Even if you consider 10% is their profit over a sale which is around 200 rs/gram, that should account for salaries, taxes, rentals of the shop in fancy location etc etc. I feel they finally end up with very less profit.

    So it makes me think if they are playing around with the quality of gold… that would be a sure money spinner..

    I heard that the real quality of gold in jewels can be found only by melting it which someone does rarely. Was not aware of the BIS method that is mentioned above. Is it 100% foolproof or some shortcoming in this method also?

    1. I’m sorry Shankar but I don’t know anything about this idea, and there’s really no way for me to figure out how fool proof it is. Maybe someone else can comment on that.

  5. Dear Manshu,
    Given your aversion for Gold which you have often voiced on this platform, i am not surprised that you were unaware of what Niraj had written!!! I am not a great fan either! and so, no experience on that!!!

    1. Dear Vijay,

      Just today a commenter on another post observed that he’d ask everyone to “blindly” buy gold ETFs. That made me squirm – these type of comments are only helping to increase my aversion of gold more. I have a feeling this is not going to end well, but as a commenter pointed out I have not made any money in gold so my opinion on it is worthless 🙂

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