How to Spot Fake Johnson Matthey Gold Bars with Confidence

If you’re in the market for precious metals, knowing how to spot fake Johnson Matthey gold bars is essential for safeguarding your investment. Counterfeit bars can closely mimic the real thing, but with the right knowledge, you can identify telltale signs that separate authentic bars from forgeries. This article provides a straightforward guide on “how to spot fake Johnson Matthey gold bars” by examining serial numbers, logos, weight, dimensions, and more.

Key Takeaways

Identifying Genuine Johnson Matthey Gold Bars

Genuine Johnson Matthey gold bars with serial numbers and markings

Start by meticulously scrutinizing the serial numbers, logos, and markings on your Johnson Matthey gold bar or any other precious metal to verify its authenticity. These elements serve as the gold bar’s fingerprint – unique and consistent, offering a direct link to its authenticity.

Serial Numbers

Serial numbers on Johnson Matthey gold bars are a telltale sign of their authenticity. The uniqueness of the serial number and its adherence to Johnson Matthey’s standards, not merely its presence, is key. Just like money notes, each bar has a unique serial number inscribed in a distinctive style, based on the individual bar and its design.

The serial numbers on the 400oz. LBMA bars usually follow a format of five numbers, the year, and the date, which gives you a clear identification of when and where the bar was made. Keep in mind that serial numbers can vary across different production years. This is because manufacturers often reset serial numbers annually.

Logos and Markings

Beyond aesthetic appeal, logos and markings on a genuine Johnson Matthey gold bar serve a significant purpose. They serve as a badge of authenticity and are the result of precise craftsmanship. When looking at the obverse side (the front) of the JM bars, you should find:

These markings ensure the authenticity and quality of the pure gold bar.

But beware, counterfeit bars often exhibit inconsistencies in logos and markings. They might have inaccurately stamped logos resembling those of major refineries, spelling errors, or even an additional unauthorized logo on the top of the bar.

Remember, as markings on the bars have evolved over time, these changes can assist in identifying the manufacturing era of the bar.

Assessing Weight and Dimensions

Weighing and measuring gold bars for authenticity

Verifying Johnson Matthey gold bars involves considering the critical factors of weight and dimensions. Genuine bars conform to precise weight and dimensions, as indicated in their markings. Any deviation from these standards could be a red flag indicating a counterfeit product.

Exact Weight

The weight of a genuine Johnson Matthey gold bar is typically about 9.997 ounces, a testament to the high level of precision upheld in their products. Any deviation from the standard weight of a 1 Troy Ounce bar, which is 31.31 grams, could indicate a counterfeit product. Counterfeit bars might also exhibit irregular thickness.

You can find the weight indicated on the obverse side of the bar, usually alongside the company logo, name, purity, and a unique serial number. A reliable gold scale or jewelry balance specifically designed for precious metals is recommended for precise measurement of the gold bars.

Precise Dimensions

Dimensions are just as crucial as weight when it comes to authenticating gold bars. The typical measurements for Johnson Matthey Gold Bars are 50.5x30x2 mm. However, it’s important to note that variations in dimensions can be found among different Johnson Matthey Gold Bars, though these variations are still within the specifications established by the manufacturer.

Use a scale, a cylinder or vial with milliliter markings, and specialized tools for accurate measurement of density and dimensions.

Visual Inspection: Surface and Edges

Inspecting the surface and edges of gold bars for authenticity

Examining the gold bar’s surface and edges visually is another essential step towards authentication. Genuine gold bars exhibit a high-quality surface and consistent edge finishes.

We’ll delve deeper into these aspects.

Surface Quality

The surface quality of a genuine Johnson Matthey gold bar is distinguished by:

A counterfeit bar may have a rough or dull surface that does not reflect light the same way as real gold.

Edge Finishes

When it comes to edge finishes, a genuine Johnson Matthey gold bar features one finely filed edge on each end, a detail that’s often challenging to replicate on counterfeit bars. Counterfeit bars might exhibit uneven reeding or reeds of incorrect size, which can be easily spotted when compared to genuine bars.

Conducting the Acid Test

The acid test serves as a reliable method to confirm the authenticity of gold bars. It involves applying nitric acid to the gold bar and observing the reaction. This test is a quick and relatively simple way to confirm if you’re dealing with real gold.

How to Perform the Acid Test

For the acid test, apply nitric acid minimally to a less noticeable section of the gold bar and monitor the reaction. Nitric acid is the acid of choice for conducting the acid test for gold.

The acid should be applied to the exposed core material of the gold bar, and the amount of gold that remains after the acid application, as well as the extent of base metal dissolved by the acid, should be observed. This test should always be done with caution, wearing protective gear such as gloves and goggles, and using a neutralizing agent, such as baking soda, to neutralize any residual acid.

Interpreting the Results

Deciphering the acid test results is quite simple. Here’s what to look for:

The acid test, a simple test, typically takes less than 20 seconds, although this timeframe may vary depending on factors such as acid concentration and temperature. As always, safety measures should be observed during the test, including wearing protective gear and handling acid solutions with care.

Purchasing from Reputable Dealers

Purchasing genuine Johnson Matthey gold bars from reputable dealers

Although these tests and inspections are useful, buying from reputable dealers is one of the most effective ways to avoid counterfeit gold bars. A reliable dealer can guarantee the authenticity of the gold bars and protect you from the risk of purchasing counterfeit items.

Finding a Trustworthy Dealer

Finding a reliable gold dealer boils down to thorough research and due diligence. Look for dealers with the following qualities:

Some of the recognized and reputable gold dealer organizations or affiliations include APMEX, JM Bullion, and professional organizations such as the Professional Numismatists Guild and the American Numismatic Association. You can also use resources like the Fake Bullion Database and the National Futures Association database to verify the dealer’s credibility.

Dealing with Online Marketplaces

Owing to the surge in online shopping, a lot of people opt to buy gold bars from online marketplaces. While this can be a convenient option, it’s important to exercise caution.

Here are some tips to help you make a safe purchase:

  1. Evaluate a seller’s reputation by examining customer reviews and feedback from previous buyers.

  2. Only engage with sellers who have a verifiable physical location.

  3. Review the seller’s trading history and evaluate their communication with potential buyers.

  4. Prioritize transactions with reputable dealers or trusted online platforms.

By following these tips, you can ensure a safer and more secure purchase of gold bars online.

Advanced Testing Methods

For those keen on a more thorough verification of their gold bars’ authenticity, advanced testing methods, including professional appraisal and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis, are available.

Professional Appraisal

Professional appraisal offers a thorough evaluation of the gold bars and silver bars, affirming their authenticity. This service is offered by accredited and certified appraisers and includes a detailed evaluation of the bars considering their weight, purity, and market value.

During the appraisal, the gold’s physical characteristics, such as its condition, weight, and collectability, are examined. The appraiser also considers factors like purity, rarity, and market conditions. They then compare the gold bar with similar bars in the market to ascertain its value. This service typically costs between $100 to $200.

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Analysis

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Analysis, a non-destructive analytical method, is used to identify the elemental composition of materials like gold bars. This method involves analyzing the emitted X-rays to calculate the percentages of the elements present in the surface layer of the gold, thus confirming its authenticity.

The XRF analysis process entails using X-ray fluorescence to ascertain the presence and quantity of gold. The necessary equipment for conducting XRF analysis on gold bars includes ultrasonic testers and handheld/desktop XRF analyzers. This method is highly precise and one of the most accurate ways for assessing the purity of gold bars.


In conclusion, distinguishing genuine Johnson Matthey gold bars from counterfeits is a meticulous process that involves careful examination of serial numbers, logos, and markings; precise measurement of weight and dimensions; a thorough visual inspection of the surface and edges; conducting the acid test; and purchasing from reputable dealers. Advanced testing methods like professional appraisal and XRF analysis can provide further assurance of the gold bars’ authenticity.

When purchasing gold bars, always remember that knowledge is your best defense against counterfeits. Being aware of what to look for, conducting proper tests, and choosing trusted sellers are key steps to ensuring that your investment is genuine. Happy gold hunting!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if gold bars are fake?

You can tell if gold bars are fake by using the magnet test and the float test. If the gold is attracted to a magnet or floats in water, it may be fake or impure.

How do I verify my gold bar certificate?

To verify your gold bar certificate, check for a certificate of authentication (COA) with details about the bar and its mint or manufacturer, and ensure the weight matches the details provided. Fraudulent gold bars may be gold-plated or fake.

Does Johnson Matthey still make gold bars?

No, Johnson Matthey no longer manufactures gold bars. You can only find them on the secondary market today.

Do all gold bars have serial numbers?

Yes, all gold bars are required to have serial numbers for security and traceability purposes, as well as to comply with regulations.

How can I identify a genuine Johnson Matthey gold bar?

To identify a genuine Johnson Matthey gold bar, examine its serial numbers, logos, and markings, assess its weight and dimensions, conduct a visual inspection of the surface and edges, and perform the acid test.