Detecting a Fake Krugerrand

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Finding and identifying a counterfeit krugerrand is not just the purview of coin collectors and dealers, everyday people like you and me can do this too.  The forger hopes that you don’t understand some of the basic properties of gold, and trusts that you won’t check the specifications to identify that fake krugerrand.
So the cheapest and least painful way of dealing with a fake krugerrand is not to get one in the first place.  You do this by working with people you trust, for example a large coin a dealer specializing in krugerrands and other gold bullion coins.  People like this handle hundreds if not thousands of coins, and they have a feeling for what a legitimate coin should feel like.  I once saw a demonstration of a master card dealer who could tell you if he had a face card simply by the weight of the ink on the card.  Such precision isn’t required for folks like us, a digital scale will do nicely.  Anyway, going to a reputable expert is the easiest way to avoid counterfeits.  Of course, that expertise does not come cheaply and you’re going to pay a bit more.

Another way to ensure that you don’t receive a fake krugerrand is to buy a coin professionally graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), or the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).  You can find them in specially designed sealed containers with the grade on the label.

So what do you do if you are the only expert available?  Fear not, gold has many special qualities that set it apart from the vast majority of the items that can be used for forgeries.  If you picked up a gold nugget you’ll notice that it is very heavy.  The specific gravity   or density of gold is an identifying characteristic.  This density makes gold very hard to fake. 

Knowing this allows us vet a real coin from a fake.  You see if someone tries to make a fake, it’ll be too big, too small, too thick, or too thin.  By using the specifications from the mint, you can check this information yourself, using digital calipers and a good quality digital scale.  All you need to check is the weight, the diameter, and thickness.
Here’s what you’re looking for:

1 oz Krugerrand
Weight: 33.930 g
Diameter: 32.77 mm
Thickness: 2.84 mm

1/2 oz Krugerrand
Weight: 16.965 g
Diameter: 27.07 mm
Thickness: 2.215 mm

1/4 oz Krugerrand
Weight: 8.482 g
Diameter: 22.06 mm
Thickness: 1.888 mm

1/10 oz Krugerrand
Weight: 3.393 g
Diameter: 16.55 mm
Thickness: 1.35 mm

So get out that measuring equipment and verify that kruger!

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