Discovery in the Community Garden

For centuries, literally from the beginning of time perhaps, gold has been coveted as a precious metal. It is the preferred metal for jewelry as you may know, and is also collected in bars and coins for an investment. While it has had its ups and downs as a commodity, over time it has increased in value enormously. Any retirement portfolio becomes diversified and well-rounded if it includes more than stocks and bonds. I am telling you this not because I have started to amass a collection, but because recently I found a gold ring buried in the dirt while planning in a community garden project.

It was a surprise and I imagine it had been there for some time left by an earnest volunteer who probably didn’t realize the loss until she got home. I do hope it was not an engagement or wedding band. That would make me sad. There is no way to find the owner given the public nature of the garden. I didn’t even know if it was real gold or clad. It is pretty enough in any case. The first thing I did was to check for an engraving. This is not usually done on gold-filled jewelry. I found a tiny set of initials but no other hint as to the owner. I still had to test it.

I went searching online and discovered on a Facebook page that people sell their antique jewelry and cast-off gold items at coin dealers who have a magnifying glass that detects the gold mark. I should do this because other methods of testing don’t tell you if it is 10K, 14K, or 18K (the most valuable). I want the fun of trying using a magnet and water. I am not going crazy and getting a spectrometer. It would be most accurate, but let me tell you what I did. First, I bit down on it to determine the hardness and density. It passed the test as far as I could tell but I wasn’t convinced it was fool-proof. I found a strong magnet (forget the weak one on the fridge) in a hardware store.

The point of this test is that gold is not magnetic, so if the found ring pulled toward it, or stuck to it in anyway, it would be a fake or counterfeit. With jewelry, this means it is “costume.” Guess what, the magnet didn’t work so the ring was indeed gold. You don’t call it “pure” as there is always another element. There is less of it in 24K gold for example.

For my little DIY experiment, there was one left. I filled a vial with water and recorded the volume using the millimeter markings on the side. I then immersed the ring and took note of the difference. There is a formula to use to determine density which involves mass/volume displacement. If it is near 19 ml this would indicate real gold. Again, it is not fool-proof as scientific as it is, but fun to do in any case.

I was satisfied over all that the ring was real and ended the testing here. I just enjoy looking at the ring although I haven’t dared to wear it as yet.