What would be the best PM tester for a collector in 2024

Discussion in 'Bullion Investing' started by Vess1, Jan 14, 2024.

  1. Vess1

    Vess1 CT SP VIP Supporter

    I haven't found a good thread on this here on the forum so I'd like to ask everyone what they feel would be an adequate tester for testing bullion for a collector? I am aware of the Sigmas and they offer several different options that do various things at various costs. The smaller unit looks good but it says it doesn't verify density? How much of an issue is that? The larger units cost twice as much and can verify density. If there are dealers here what are you using and since you have it, how often do you actually use it to check?
    I've become interested in being able to better test what I have if not just for the fun of it. It'd be nice if there was a way to rent one because it's one of those items you may use it like crazy when you first get it and then it would sit. Still would be nice to have something on hand I suppose. I am aware of the other simple tests you can run. Everything I've owned has passed those tests. But can't test anything in slabs.
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  3. rte

    rte Well-Known Member

    XRF should be able to reasonably test through plastic slab, but stick with what test method you have now.
    Maybe find a shop that has an XRF Machine.

    I check my items the old fashioned way... magnet, scale, caliper and whites 6000DI PRO as best as I can.
    mpcusa likes this.
  4. I found an independent Jeweler / Coin shop about a 24 mi drive from me that agreed to test some very old contact pins I obtained (a little over 7 ounces) along time ago from much older telephone switching equipment that was being replaced. I did a gravity test following a demonstration on YouTube suggesting 8 Karat but I want to get an accurate measure. Try looking around for an independently owned jeweler or a pawn shop with a proper metal tester. Also, there are chemical kits for basic testing (mid $20's) but not sure if the solutions would harm the coin. Good luck!

    Attached Files:

  5. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Chemical kits work by dissolving part of the metal. You either drip the solution onto the object, or drag the object across a stone and test the streak that it leaves. Neither one is something you want to do to a coin, unless it's already completely trashed.

    XRF is probably the best detector, but I'm assuming price is at least somewhat important, and those are still well into five figures.

    I can't comment much on the Sigma devices, except to say that I'm less skeptical than I used to be. (I used to think they were practically useless; now I think they're generally useful, but not necessarily reliable enough to risk large purchases based on their verdict.)
  6. pmbug

    pmbug Taking steps on my thousand mile journey

    Hopefully Rory brings the EON cradle to market this year.

    ZoidMeister, JPD3, mpcusa and 3 others like this.
  7. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    OMG, that's beautiful -- he's built a mechanical Sigma!

    I'm generally not impressed by the "steampunk" aesthetic, but this I like. A lot.

    Still have the same misgivings that I have about the standard Sigma, but I'd have complete faith in either one for detecting tungsten-core AGEs, and this looks so much nicer on a desk. I'm still unlikely to buy one -- for one thing, I'd need a clear spot on a desk -- but I'll certainly admire it.
    pmbug, rte and Heavymetal like this.
  8. mpcusa

    mpcusa "Official C.T. TROLL SWEEPER"

    What a great device !
  9. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    That EON coin cradle is very impressive but I'd stick with XRF as that's my go to. :cigar: Wish I owned one but I don't so I have to pay $5 for a test! The two LCS's in my area will test for free only if I'm selling or trading with them. How about you, anyone here have to pay for an XRF test from their LCS, how much??
  10. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Save your money instead. Once you've paid $5 each for the first 4000 or so coins, you might as well have bought your own XRF. :rolleyes:
  11. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    No, I seldom get gold coins tested and I don't have anywhere near 4000 coins to test anyways. :D The only test I can get for free is the acid test and I'm not happy with that test at all. Mostly it's not coins that I have tested so I'm okay paying for their services.
  12. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Joking aside, I've got a couple of (non-coin) items that I'd gladly pay $5 to have analyzed. Given the high cost of the equipment, I think that's a fair fee.
    Jeffjay likes this.
  13. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    Yes, here's one of the items I had tested and glad I did! It couldn't be opened without ruining it completely and I couldn't see it very well. Turns out it was a definite fake, so back to the seller it went! :D

    112617674a.jpg 112617674j.jpg 112617674i.jpg 112617674d.jpg 112617674e.jpg
  14. pmbug

    pmbug Taking steps on my thousand mile journey

    masterswimmer and -jeffB like this.
  15. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Okay, it's still cool, but:

    That was an awful lot of sliding coins around. Also an awful lot of fiddling with the drawer, the scale, the diameter/thickness measurement. And it doesn't look to me like the conductivity measurement would work well with slabbed coins, unless they've got separate table entries for each coin in each type of slab. (It's also kind of a buzzkill to use the finely-machined brass knobs to dial in a figure that you have to look up in an app.)

    Now, if I had a small set of coin types that I had to check on a frequent basis, I'm sure I'd memorize the settings for them. But if I needed to check gold coins on a frequent basis, I'd probably spend a little more and pick up a Sigma. Not nearly as cool, but a lot more practical.
  16. pmbug

    pmbug Taking steps on my thousand mile journey

    I agree that the Sigma is likely more versatile, but on the downside, it seems to cost a lot more (looks like $1k for the cheapest model) and it does require electricity to work (which shouldn't a problem unless the grid goes down).
  17. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Of course, if The Grid Goes Down, it's probably bad news for that app that you need to use to look up settings for your coins.
  18. rasielsuarez

    rasielsuarez Member

    I'm a happy XRF owner but agree that this is overkill for most people. I mean, a used one in decent shape will run you at least 15k and for what, how many coins do you realistically expect to test in a given year? Unless it was hundreds it's literally a waste of money.

    Not saying it's not a great toy to have though :)
    -jeffB likes this.
  19. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    I've spent an awful lot of money on impractical "toys" -- just not that much on a single item. Maybe someday. Heck, probably someday, unless we hit unexpected hard times or I develop more self-control. :rolleyes:

    Problem is, for an XRF, I'd want one that was good for more than just PMs. Certainly one that would reach down to magnesium; fluorine would be nice, but that's a big stretch. And there are a few kinds of optical/UV/IR spectrometer that I'd like to have, and those are a good bit cheaper.

    Sigh. So many measurements, so little time...
  20. mpcusa

    mpcusa "Official C.T. TROLL SWEEPER"

    The best PM tester is at your LCS. I have developed great relationships with mine and he always tests my GO:D for me free of charge, so going out and spending
    a thousand dollars for a tester that you will only use a few times isnt allot of bang for your buck and there tester ia always going to be better then yours...LOL
    Vess1 likes this.
  21. Bacchus

    Bacchus Coin Duffer

    Nice !:)

    I also have been thinking about testers. I made up a list, just for a starting point, of the effectiveness of gold testers. I omitted any tests that are destructive to the metal, but capsule holders and the like, including the cases from a mint, are fair game.

    My list includes individual testers and pairs of testers. Sometimes a tester is good for some kinds of fakes but not other kinds, and so a pair of testers will cover each other’s deficiencies. For example, item (2) in the list below: a PMV is very good but can be fooled by a very thick metal with a thick plating, so pairing it with a Weight test catches that possibility. (Or does it?)

    1. XRF
    2. PMV + Weight
    3. Precious Metal Verifier (e.g., Sigma PMV)
    4. Specific Gravity
    5. Weight
    6. Magnet
    7. Ping

    Looking for more suggestions if they exceed what I already have here, especially pairs of testers.
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