Gold Identification - A 7 Point Checklist

Here are some Gold Identification tests that you can easily apply in the bush while you are looking for gold and are not sure the rock you find is gold or just "Fools Gold" 

So - What are the 7 Rules for Gold Identification

Here is the 7 Point Checklist to Make Sure You Don't Miss any Gold again!...

...OR Mistake a big Pyrites Specimen for Gold

Test for Gold



Gold is yellow and shiny it wont sparkle in the light like mica. Iron Pyrites has a brassy yellow colour.

Chalcopyrite is Yellow but brassy.

Be careful with just a reliance on a colour test. If a rock registers on your metal detector but is not the classic colour of gold make sure it is not coated by another mineral such as ironstone or manganese oxide.

Gold Doesn't change colour much or fade from light to shade

Check the gold in light and in shade and wet and dry - observe the gold in the sun then the shade it wont change much or fade if its gold. 

If there is a significant change or fading in the colour of the metal it may not be gold.

Specific Gravity - Gold is Heavy

Gold is heavier than pyrites and much heavier than yellow mica.

Other minerals will move around in your pan much more readily than gold.

Some minerals like mica will float right out or your pan.

Gold is Malleable (it will flatten or change shape)

If gold is hit with a hammer it will flatten the other minerals like mica will shatter. 

Dont use this test to destroy a nugget though.

Pin Prick Test

Small flakes of gold will yield to a pin whereas pyrite and chalcopyrite with crumble.

Flat Surface or Crystal structure

If the metal has a defined flat surface or crystal shape it is probably pyrites.

Water Test

Small pieces of gold will quickly sink to the bottom of a glass or jar of water.

Try it with lead and gold and see the difference! 

If its Mica it will float or sink very slowly

Pyrites in Rock SpecimenPyrites in Rock Specimen
Gold in GravelGold in Gravel

Click here to return to Gold Facts Page from Gold Identification Page
Return to home page from Prospecting For Gold

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.