Gold being the symbol of high status is used in various fields from jewelry (bracelets, rings, necklaces, etc) and coins, to scientific purposes, and medicinal uses (due to antibacterial properties), dentistry, and aerospace. In jewelry, it has a vast market considered as a precious and expensive gift. But what gold is, it is a soft metal and used for decorating purposes also. In Asia, it is the mark of success. Gold is yellow but in the market, it is available in various colors and forms, different colors because of the difference in metal contents in its alloys.

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Some forms of gold include 10k, 14k, and white gold. In this article, we will be addressing whether these types of gold are magnetic.

Without further ado, Let’s find out!


Table of Contents


What makes gold non-magnetic?

Is Gold magnetic or not?

Well, magnetism is used as a tool to decide whether the gold is magnetic or not. Gold, in general, is not magnetic and if it attracts to the magnet it means it is not pure and contains nickel or iron in it.

Magnetism or magnets has an additional application to decide whether the gold is real and pure or not. The gold used in pieces of jewelry can never be pure because pure gold is very soft and can bend or scratch easily so always its alloy is used and that’s why it has various kinds like 10k, 14k, and 18k.


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What are 10k, 14k, 18k, or white gold?

Karat (k) is the unit used to measure the purity of gold. Pure gold is 24 karat. One karat means the 1/24th part of it in the alloy.

10k gold means it consists of 10 parts of gold with 14 parts of some other metals like nickel, copper, iron, or silver, 14k gold consists of 14 parts of gold and 10 parts of other metals, and 18k gold means 18 parts of gold and 6 parts of other metals.

While white gold is the mixture of gold and white metals that make it off white, metals can be palladium, nickel, or silver.

As the karats increase gold becomes more expensive because the percentage of gold increases in the alloy as compared to other metals.

Are 10k, 14k, 18k, or white gold magnetic?

Now that we know that 10k, 14k, and white gold are alloys of gold, now the question is whether these types of gold are magnetic or not?

10k,14k, 18k, and white gold are all just gold alloys and contain parts of other metals like nickel, copper, iron, and silver, therefore these gold alloys can be magnetic depending on the types of metal which are added to the alloy along with gold.

Pure gold is non-magnetic and if you have found your jewelry to be magnetic that means it contains other magnetic alloys and is a gold alloy, not pure gold.


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What makes gold non-magnetic?

Why gold is not magnetic?

Magnetism is the property that depends upon the number of unpaired electrons; a metal can only be magnetic if it contains unpaired electrons. Gold is a transition metal with an atomic number 79. It has all of its orbitals filled except the last 6 orbital which contains only one electron, however, still, it’s not unstable as it is half-filled and half-filled orbitals are considered as stable orbitals.

As the number of unpaired electrons in the outer shell increases, magnetic dipole becomes stronger and metal is attracted to magnets strongly. Gold has only one unpaired electron and low potential to create magnetic dipole so it is not attracted to magnets while iron on the other hand has 4 to 5 unpaired electrons in the outer shell that’s why it is strongly magnetic.

Confusion

Now the question is if gold has one unpaired electron then why still it is non-magnetic?

Magnetism not only depends on the number of unpaired electrons in the outer shell but also whether the metal is paramagnetic or diamagnetic. Gold is diamagnetic means it creates an induced magnetic field in the opposite direction of the applied magnetic field and repels it when subjected to any external magnetic field. Paramagnetism is however opposite, paramagnetic substances create an induced magnetic field in the same direction of the applied magnetic field which adds to the overall field and as a result attracted to magnets.

Just in case if any other magnetic metal is added to make a gold alloy, the added metal will be paramagnetic and gold being diamagnetic, the effect will be canceled out and if gold shows magnetic properties then they will be very slight, not observable we can say.

So here we have come to two reasons why gold is not magnetic

Only one unpaired electronDiamagnetic

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Fake gold

However, gold less than 10-karats can be attracted to magnets because of the greater proportion of other metals, and gold with less than 10 parts or 41.7 percent is considered to be fake.

One gold alloy which is known as “blue-white gold” is magnetic because it consists of 75 percent gold and 25 percent of iron. It is magnetic due to such a great percentage of iron it contains and we know iron is paramagnetic i.e., it attracts magnets. But it does mean its means it is gold so magnetism is not the only way to check the purity of gold.

Research

What we have discussed so far was on a macro-scale but nowadays as nanotechnology and nanoscience are emerging, Scientists have discovered that gold at the nanoscale is magnetic. At the nanoscale, gold changes all of its properties and becomes magnetic. Nanoparticles of gold contain only a few atoms that are why the unpaired electrons fail to pair up and are paramagnetic while at a macro scale the unpaired electrons pair up and become diamagnetic.

It was proved by Fernandes de Farias when he studied the smallest cluster of gold consisting of only two atoms and he observed both of those atoms had their outer electrons unpaired so it was magnetic. But as the number of atoms increases the cluster becomes larger and it becomes easy for atoms to pair up their outer electrons which results in decreasing magnetic properties or attraction towards the magnets.

Gold’s non-magnetic property can also be described by Einstein’s theory of relativity which is “As the outer electron goes away from the nucleus it gets tough for it to get hold over the outer electron and it moves very fast”.

Metal conductors with only high frequency can be used to find gold but have to use a multi-frequency detector but with low frequency cannot find gold. This is also evidence that gold is not magnetic overall. Pure gold is not magnetic at all and no detector can find it with any frequency.

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Conclusion

We have concluded that gold is non-magnetic overall but its forms like 10k, 14k, 18k, and white gold can be magnetic or not it depends upon the other metals used in these alloys. Because they are alloys and need other metals so if any magnetic metal has been used then it can be slightly only very slightly magnetic otherwise not. However, the magnetic properties will be very low that cannot be observed.

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In terms of magnetic property, gold has to show a strong magnetic dipole that cannot be formed because of only one electron in its outer shell. Gold is diamagnetic so cannot be attracted to magnets but keep in mind magnetism is not a very good tool to check the purity of gold, certain other tests are helpful to check purity.