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I have a man's wedding band (from a wedding long ago) that I want to give to a friend who is getting married. The ring is gold with a center band of a silver color, but I don't know what the material is.

In fact, the silver band is quite hard to distinguish so it looks like a simple gold ring until you look closely. My vague recollection is that the band is made of white gold, but I really can't remember. Is this something that a jeweler could determine quickly? Is it expensive to test?

The reason we want to know is that this friend does physical work and it's important that in an emergency it would be possible to cut the ring off. He's worried that if it's titanium it could be hard to cut off.

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  • Titanium isn't all that hard - stainless steel would be harder. A manufacturing jeweller would be able to look at the construction, and might be able to tell, because adding harder metals with higher melting points on top of gold is less likely than the other way round
    – Chris H
    Jul 31, 2023 at 10:39
  • Thanks. I know it might vary depending on what the material is, but do you have a rough idea of how much we'd pay for that kind of analysis?
    – M Katz
    Jul 31, 2023 at 11:29
  • I've no idea how much I'd pay, never mind how much you would in another country. I'm going to guess it would be comparable to a valuation for insurance purposes, as they'd need to figure out the material for that. That might provide a route
    – Chris H
    Jul 31, 2023 at 11:35
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    White gold or platinum; a jeweler will tell you. Aug 5, 2023 at 0:06

2 Answers 2

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If there are any scratches on it, that should provide a route to a identification. White gold will scratch similarly to gold (it's at most a little harder) while base metals used in jewellery are much harder. An existing scratch that crosses the stripe, if consistent across it, would indicate white gold. If the middle band is exposed on the inside, you could even scratch it lightly - try a sharpened piece of copper wire, or brass, to start with, as they're harder than gold but softer than anything worrying. SeeMoh's scale for relevant metals - basically a bigger number can scratch a smaller number on this scale. Values for white gold are here .

After all, you don't need a positive ID, just to know it could be cut in an emergency.

Otherwise, a valuation for insurance purposes should need to know whether it's white gold, silver, or base metal. That might provide a route to getting an expert to have a look.

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If there is a jeweler or dealer around you that specializes in buying old gold, they should have a touchstone. That is a black, smooth stone on which gold objects leave a line if you rub them on it without visibly damaging the objects. Most jewelers use such a stone to determine the purity of the gold (based on the color of the lines), but for you it would be enough to see if the ring leaves a line at all that is typical for gold. An experienced jeweler or dealer should be able to tell you if the material is gold or not in a minute.

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As discussed in the comments, a touchstone works by utilizing the relative hardness of the materials (stone and jewelry). Even if the stone cannot tell you exactly what the silver material is, it can tell you whether it's soft enough to be as easily cut as gold in an emergency.

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  • I wonder what it does with silver (and sterling silver) which are also soft. Simple reactions done on the mark should give a more conclusive answer than my approach, if needed. +1
    – Chris H
    Jul 31, 2023 at 15:56
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    @ChrisH Depends on the touchstone. In general, all materials with a Mohs hardness of about a 3 or lower will leave some degree of mark. This is good enough to differentiate silver from titanium, iridium, or steel (or gold from pyrite, which was the major purpose originally of touchstones), though it may not reliably differentiate silver from aluminum, platinum, or palladium, and it will generally not differentiate silver from pewter. Jul 31, 2023 at 21:08
  • @AustinHemmelgarn so it will directly answer the underlying soft/hard question, without a positive identification - good enough
    – Chris H
    Jul 31, 2023 at 21:10

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