According to About.com expert Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine, the simplest way to determine if an element is a metal is to see if it appears with the other metals on the periodic table. There are 117 non-theoretical elements on the periodic table, and all but 17 are either metals or metalloids. Scientists also use chemical experiments to determine if a sample of indeterminate nature contains metal ions.Know More
The flame test is a simple laboratory procedure that reveals metal ions in a material sample solution. To perform this test, the researcher dips a long metal instrument into the solution and then places it in an open flame. The BBC explains that the resulting color of the flame provides valuable information about the presence and type of metals in the solution. For example, lithium ions turn the flame red, potassium ions produce a purple flame and barium ions produce a green flame.
According to Home Science Tools, another useful method of metal detection is to test the sample's ability to conduct heat and electricity. All non-metal materials are extremely poor conductors of both. Other physical properties common among metals include ductility and malleability. Transition metals such as gold and silver bend easily when struck with a hammer, but alkali metals such as sodium and potassium have the consistency of cream cheese.
Some metals are highly toxic. Always wear protective gloves when handling unidentified metal specimens.Learn more about Precious Metals & Gems
Platinum can bond with other metals such as gold or iron, forming a metallic bond. If it bonds with a nonmetal, it is an ionic bond.Full Answer >
Determine the authenticity and value of pearls by conducting the tooth test and inspecting the color, surface thickness, luster, shape and size of the pearl as well as any blemishes. This process does not require any specialized equipment.Full Answer >
Silver is a naturally occurring element on the periodic table and can be found in natural deposits throughout the world. As such, it was discovered, but not invented, by people.Full Answer >
Hard to find in nature and durable enough to remain in perfect condition for centuries, gold is unlike any other metal in the periodic table. It has been used as currency and as a means to display wealth and power for centuries, particularly among royalty historically.Full Answer >