Tungsten is an amazing metal: hard and dense, with the highest melting point of all elements, tungsten is used in many industrial and military applications where high temperatures or radiation are an issue. Alas, with a density very close to that of gold, it has also become the material of choice for many in the business of faking gold coins or bars.
Weight and dimensional conformity used to be reliable indicators of the authenticity of standard gold items. While early forgeries may have been crude and simple, today’s “professionals” have found ways to keep shapes and weights in near perfect balance, making detection increasingly harder.
Pirates used to bite down on gold coins to “authenticate” them, a tradition upheld by some Olympia medalists. Unfortunately, destructive testing is not always an option as the item is losing its commodity or collector’s value, and because dental work is expensive. On top, many objects are protected by plastic blisters, coin slabs and/or holographic seals or codes, which have been the object of attempted forgery, too, in recent months. Criminals are taking advantage of the desire to maintain packaging intact to prevent direct inspection of the item. Even X-Ray analyzers will only penetrate the surface of an object and will not identify tungsten underneath thick gold plating. All while certain websites are openly advertising gold plated tungsten coins made to your “specifications”. Tungsten, therefore, is getting a bad reputation among technology metals – quite undeservedly.
Professional sellers like Kitco will use a combination of markings (micro-tags, holograms, DNA tags etc.) and buyers use multiple tests (dimension / weight ratio, XRF, conductivity etc.) together with plausibility checks to determine if an item is real. As a collector or private investor, how do you protect yourself from falling victim to forgeries, tungsten or otherwise? Here are some suggestions:
If you are or have been affected by gold forgery recently, if you have stories or images to share, please contact Tech Metals Insider at the email below.