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How to tell if a coin is gold

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Peter Krauth

I had just finished a walking tour of the Royal Canadian Mint when I saw it. Right there, out in the open, was a 400-ounce bar of pure gold .

It was chained to a display table and kept safe by an armed guard. At the time, in 2005, the bar was worth $220,000.

Today, the same bar is worth $526,700. In just nine years, gold prices have jumped by 296.1% – and that's even with the 28% plummet the yellow metal saw last year.

But it's not the eternal fascination with gold that has boosted the price. With growing levels of worldwide uncertainties, mounting inflation risks, and government distrust, people are clamoring for gold primarily as insurance.

According to the World Gold Council, world gold demand was 4,080 tonnes in 2013, an 8.8% increase over 2005. In the first quarter of 2014, gold demand came in at 1,074.5 tonnes, maintaining the robust levels seen in 2013.

With the market for gold growing at a feverish pace, it's now more important than ever to know that your gold is the real deal – especially now that gold has begun to show signs of a strong rebound .

Here's why…

Gold counterfeiting is nothing new. In fact, just yesterday (Thursday) two suspects were caught in New York for multiple incidents of selling fake American

Gold Eagle gold coins on Craigslist.

But rest assured there are a number of methods you can use to mitigate the risks of ending up with counterfeit gold. Some are simple, quick, and inexpensive. Others are more elaborate, detailed, and not so readily accessible.

Here's how to tell if your gold is real…

Seven Tests That Determine Your Gold's Authenticity

Fake Gold Test No. 1: Size

Whether we're talking about coins, wafers, or bars, the producers of these items usually have very exacting standards. So a little research goes a long way to making sure you get what you expect.

Find out what the true dimensions of the item should be, and then compare them to what you have.

To do this, buy yourself a good-quality pair of calipers so that you can measure the diameter, thickness, or other dimension of your gold item very precisely.

Gold is a very dense metal, so some counterfeiters may make a coin in a wider diameter, in order to compensate for a less dense metal. If you compare gold to iron, it takes twice the volume of iron to equal the same weight of gold.

Plating other metals with gold still allows them to match the proper weight, but the size would be off. The difference could be very minor, but if you know what to look for, you can spot the fake.

Fake Gold Test No. 2: Magnetic

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