As a precious metals advisor, we feel it’s not only essential to provide sound investing advice when it comes to precious metals, but also to provide a good background of all things gold, silver, and precious metals related. Whether you’re buying it as a gift for someone or buying to invest, you need to know as much about gold as possible. For that reason, we’ve decided to share what we know about gold and its magnetic capabilities. If you’re asking yourself whether or not gold is magnetic, then this post is for you.
Find Our If Gold Is Magnetic Today!
Gold is metal, and it would be obvious to think it could have magnetic properties, but it is not so. Here we’ll discuss the properties of gold, specifically whether it has magnetic properties and what it means if a magnet attracts your gold coins or jewelry.
Gold is a non-magnetic metal, and magnets do not attract pure gold; however, strong magnetic fields can make gold slightly magnetic. Testing the magnetic properties of gold is an easy way to check if your gold is pure or has been alloyed with a magnetic metal. While many non-magnetic metals can be blended with gold, gold specialists use various methods to determine the composition of your gold items, and magnetism is one of these.
Basics on Magnetism
A metal with magnetic properties attracts other magnetic metals. When brought to the atomic level, the atoms have positively charged proton cores and negatively charged electronic clouds around them. The electrons rotate around the core, generating a magnetic force.
When the atoms in a substance are arranged in a certain way, the magnetic force points in different directions and its force dissipates, which is why most substances are not magnetic. When the atoms are arranged in a specific way, the magnetic forces align in the same direction and merge, giving the material a strong magnetic property.
The Earth is the biggest known magnet, with the North and South magnetic poles and an invisible magnetic field surrounding it. It is the same with other magnets, which have two poles, a north, and a south pole; opposite poles attract, and the same poles repel each other.
There are five primary categorizations of magnetism in materials:
The diamagnetic and paramagnetic materials lack the atomic structure that supports magnetic properties; the ferromagnetic, ferrimagnetic, and antiferromagnetic materials have magnetic properties below a specific temperature. However, only ferromagnetic and ferrimagnetic materials are considered magnetic at standard conditions; all other materials are considered non-magnetic at standard conditions.
What Are Magnetic Metals?
Magnetic metals have magnetic properties at standard conditions; these include iron, cobalt, nickel, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium.
- Iron is the primary building material and the base material in steel, and it is the base ferromagnetic element
- Cobalt is vital in battery production, aircraft engines, and as a coloring agent in glass and ceramics
- Nickel has excellent corrosion resistance, and it is used for plating other metals and in steel alloys
- Neodymium is used in alloying other metals to make permanent magnets used in electronic applications and microphones and loudspeakers
- Samarium is a rare-earth metal that is used in the production of powerful magnets with industry applications that need to retain their magnetic properties at high temperatures
- Gadolinium is an alloying metal in producing magnets, electronic components, and medical imaging devices.
What are Non-Magnetic Metals?
Non-magnetic metals are gold, silver, copper, aluminum, lead, etc. Each of these is a soft metal, and to improve their properties, they are often blended with other metals to make alloys with the required properties.
- Gold is primarily used for coins, jewelry, electronics, the aerospace industry, dentistry, energy, and awards
- Silver is used for coins, jewelry, mirrors, tableware, and antibacterial products
- Copper is used in electrical equipment, electrical wires, cables, transformers, electric motors, and coins
- Aluminum is used for cans, aircraft parts, window frames, kitchen appliances, etc.
- Lead is used as a raw material in dyes and paints, in car batteries, and as storage of corrosive liquids
- Brass is the alloy between copper and zinc; it is not magnetic and is used for musical instruments and water transport like pipes and faucets.
Can Gold Jewelry Be Magnetic?
Pure gold or 24-carat gold is 99.9% pure gold and is not magnetic. However, it is common to test 22-carat, 18-carat, and 14-carat gold jewelry and find that the fasteners are made from ferromagnetic materials.
Impure gold alloys contain copper or silver to harden the gold and make it more durable and resistant to warping. Still, the metals added to gold are not magnetic, and 22-carat and even 18-carat gold should not be magnetic.
Differences between Real Gold and Gold-Plated Items
Actual gold items are made from real gold. These can be pure 24-carat gold, 18-carat gold, or 14-carat gold; these gold alloys should not be magnetic. Still, the magnetism depends on the metal that is added to gold. If gold is mixed with silver, you get white gold that is not magnetic. The resulting gold alloy will be highly magnetic if gold is mixed with iron.
Gold-plated items are made from other metals and are electrochemically plated with a thin layer of gold. Gold-plating is done to make inexpensive “gold” items or to add a beautiful, protective layer on surfaces and protect them from oxidation, tarnishing, or erosion. Gold plating is most commonly used in cheap jewelry and is electronic components to save on costs and still get the highly-valued properties of gold.
Can a Magnet Be Used for Testing Gold?
A magnet can be used as a rough test for the gold alloy’s purity, and if the magnet attracts the gold item, it is not pure gold. It is a simple, non-invasive testing technique that serves as a starting point, but it is unreliable, as other non-magnetic metals may be added to the gold item.
To properly test and determine the purity of your gold item, we suggest you use the services of an experienced gold dealer or jeweler who knows and uses advanced techniques.
Tests to Determine if an Item Is Made from Gold
Here is a list of testing methods that gold dealers and jewelers use to check the fineness of gold items:
- Weight testing – coins, bars, and rounds can be tested by weight, as pure gold has a specific weight
- Acid test – gold does not dissolve in most acids, but please note that the acids may tarnish the surfaces of the gold items
- A spectrum analyzer – experienced gold dealers use advanced testing techniques like a spectrum analyzer, which is a non-invasive testing technique to test the composition of the gold item
Can You Find Gold with a Metal Detector?
Gold is not magnetic in its pure form, but still, it can be detected by some metal detectors. The gold-locating metal detectors don’t search for magnetic waves but use frequencies that use the metal’s conductivity.
To look for gold, you should use a quality high-frequency metal detector that can detect the precious metal, as gold has a higher conductivity, generating high-frequency waves that the quality metal detector can detect.
The Bottom Line: Gold Is Not Magnetic!
Pure gold is not magnetic but can become a magnetic alloy if mixed with magnetic materials. Magnetic testing techniques can be used to test gold’s purity or if it is mixed with magnetic metals. Still, magnetic tests are not reliable for testing gold, as more advanced methods are necessary to test the composition of a gold item.
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