Gold forgers. A strange breed. These people do not pretend to have gold that is indeed another substance – that would be too easy to detect (how?) Instead, they have gold that they claim to be from a different age or source than it actually is.

By PHGCOM (Own work by uploader, Toi Mine) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

It is sometime referred to as antique gold, gold from say the Californian gold rush. Ingots of this antique gold can actually sell for 1000 times its market value! But gold is stamped, isn’t it? Yes, but these stamps are easy to forge.

The gold however has a fingerprint. A tiny hole is drilled into it and gold and other impurities are analysed and detected by mass spectrometry. A unique fingerprint is obtained that can be used to prove where the gold is from. for example, Colorado gold  contains high levels of tellurium.

Once a database has been built up it will be relatively easy to determine if the gold that is being market is actually what the seller claims it is :mrgreen:

Article adapted from an article in New Scientist on 6th March, 2004, page 15, ‘Gold Fingerprint to Foil Forgers’.