natural gold nuggets

A Basic Guide for Spotting Fake Gold Nuggets

When buying Australian gold on the market, one must always be aware of fakes that smuggle their way through. These can range from quite obviously fake to almost identical to authentic—but all have telltale signs that they aren’t real pieces of gold.

While there are many fakes out there, identifying the most common ones you’ll come across will save you a lot of trouble. Collectors that are just starting out should familiarise themselves with these to avoid any false purchases. The right prospectors should also be able to identify these with ease.

When buying your gold nuggets, keep an eye out for these inauthentic imitations.

Copper Nuggets

Sneaky traders will often use pieces of copper and plate them with a thin layer of 24k gold so that they mimic the appearance of a pure gold nugget. These are often sold as novelty items by reputable businesses that market them as fake gold nuggets, but the real issue lies with people who falsely claim that they are real.

Purchasing these through online platforms such as eBay can get very tricky! After all, there’s no way to check whether a nugget is fully composed of gold since you need to hold it in your hand to feel if they are fake. As such, be wary of this type of false gold!

Iron Pyrite

Commonly touted as “fool’s gold,” iron pyrite can easily be distinguished from the real thing. In terms of texture, pyrite is much harder and more brittle as compared to gold, which is softer and more solid.

Pyrite’s colour is also a lot more brassy with a mirror-like finish. The nuggets of this material will form several crystals that bunch together in cubes, octahedrons, and pyritohedron shapes.

Lead Nuggets

Similar to gold-plated copper nuggets, another metal that can masquerade as a true gold nugget is a gold-plated piece of lead. Manufacturers and dealers of gold plated copper will often use lead in the same mould and produce similar-looking nuggets that are both just as inauthentic on the inside as they are pretending to be real gold on the outside.


When purchasing gold, your number one priority is to find a trusted collector and trader to help you determine the authenticity of your source. It’s always a better idea to buy gold straight from the prospector or businesses that have built good reputations with selling authentic gold nuggets. Remember to trust your instincts and spot prices that are too good to be true—since they most likely are!

If you’re buying Australian gold for sale, it’s best to seek out the advice of a reputable trader. Here at the Gold Nugget Shop, we have over 20 years of experience in gold trading around the world. We specialise in unique gold specimens and nuggets. To learn how to create more golden opportunities, visit our website today!