Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chanel, Part 4: Vintage Jewelry / Brooch Authenticity Tips

The Chanel video series (Part 1 - Wallet on chain and petite shopping tote, Part 2 - The classic flap bag (with updated prices as of February 2012), Part 3 - Buying pre-owned or at a discount) are some of the most-read posts on this blog, so I wanted to share my latest experience with buying costume jewelry as well. Now that I've fulfilled my tweed jacket dreams thanks to Uniqueen, I've been itching to get a classic Chanel brooch to adorn those jackets. Although Chanel costume jewelry (faux-pearls, man-made metals) is pricey for the materials, I mentally laid out some reasons on why the classic designs are worth it:

- A beautiful designer accessory can elevate the look of inexpensive clothes. I pinned mine on a Uniqueen jacket and received numerous compliments, whereas I don't recall that same jacket getting much attention a week earlier, sans-brooch.

- Costume jewelry can be quite versatile, as shown below...
chanelpin1
- Classic designs can hold their value extremely well. For example, costume brooches retail starting at ~$250 for small 1-1.5" ones (prices do go much higher depending on size and intricacy). If you look on eBay, most classic, simple Chanel brooches are selling for $200+ regardless of age, which is possibly more than what they cost years ago. Classic earrings lose some value but still hold up fairly well. For example, my beloved turnlock studs retailed for $260, and I watched a pre-owned pair go for a little under $200.

So for those interested in Chanel costume jewelry, I recommend browsing the pre-owned market because the variety is much more vast than what you can find in any boutique. However, buying second-hand means one must be savvy about authenticity. Here are two brooches that came into (and one went out of) my possession recently:

Which one is fake? Continue reading to find out...
chanelpin

(Left) Counterfeit, (Right) Authentic

A month ago, I came across the left brooch via Etsy. The price was great at $150 (too great, in retrospect), the design was classic and sleek, and the seller had a store full of beautiful designer jewelry and 100% positive feedback left by hundreds of customers. I let my guard down and pulled the trigger without doing further research.

Shortly after paying, I noticed red flags. The seller re-listed the exact brooch I had just bought as available again. After browsing his feedback in detail (which really should be done before buying), I was alarmed that he had sold the same brooch not once, not twice...but over twenty times to unsuspecting customers who came back and left glowing feedback. Chanel products are usually made in limited quantities, so for one individual to have endless quantities of an "authentic," classic piece in "new" condition is not plausible. I immediately wrote to him asking for the transaction to be canceled. He responded that it had already been sent out, however I can mail it back for a full refund.
 
After it arrived, my suspicions about authenticity were quickly confirmed. At least I got a few close-up photos out of my mistake for this post. For those of you considering buying a Chanel brooch online, here are my tips:

1. Obtain close-up photos of the back before buying. This will let you inspect two important components - the signature, and the pin backing. You can also submit the link/photos to TPF's authenticity thread for an experienced opinion.

Signature: The little oval stamp or embossed mark on the back that says "Chanel" and possibly where it's made and the season, depending on what time period it's from. This guide was the best resource I could find about the signatures, although it's not comprehensive. I suggest comparing the signature on something you're watching, to that on other listings online from reputable sellers or secondhand designer stores. Be warned that many pricier counterfeit pieces have this feature.
chanelpin4
Pin backing: After receiving my counterfeit brooch, I inspected many Chanel brooches in-person at my local boutique and scoured tons of second-hand listings online. All of them had a pin backing consisting of two little nubs that stuck out of the pin base, connected by a long stick pin, and a pin closure consisting of a little turn-wheel. Most smaller ones had a horizontal pin, and some larger ones had a diagonal one. Never did I see a pin like the fake shown on the below left, where a distinctly separate piece was added onto the brooch backing.
chanelpin2
2. Inspect the overall quality, workmanship, and weight of the piece. Chanel does not use precious materials for their costume jewelry, but there is still a standard of workmanship that goes into their products. The authentic pin I have has good weight to it whereas the fake felt light and hollow. The authentic one has texture and signs of two pieces being welded together versus the fake has a flat laser-cut design. The pin backing on the fake was starting to come off, and the overall metal was extremely shiny in-person (Nick actually had to shield his eyes from the glare).

Also, this may sound like a given but I've seen fakes where the CC layout was not right. Refer back to this post about how the C's should be interlocking. 
chanelpin3
3. Shop and pay safely. Inspect the seller's feedback for a history of positive feedback (clearly, this is not foolproof) and look out for one seller having multiples. I prefer eBay to a site like Etsy or Bonanaza because there is much more regulation over counterfeits on eBay - I've seen many listings get pulled by Chanel's copyright owner team on eBay. Pay using a safe method like PayPal, which is very good about getting buyers a full refund on authenticity disputes.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for a lower price. The worst a seller can say is no. Before I bought my second brooch, I found it from two sellers for the same asking price. I asked both about a discount - one said no and one let me negotiate it down about 15%.

Unfortunately, you have to rely on your own research or the opinions of knowledgeable designer aficionados, because Chanel themselves will not authenticate second-hand products. Their sales associates are bound by company policy to not offer opinions on authenticity, so if a listing says it was "authenticated by Chanel" (or on Craigslist, I see offers to "meet up at the boutique to prove authenticity"), know that it is not possible. After learning my lesson, I did thorough research and ended up with a piece that I'm very happy with. I'm already looking forward to expanding my collection to a pearl-studded one next!

Readers - What are your thoughts on designer costume jewelry? Please share any of your shopping experiences or authenticity tips.

79 comments:

  1. This is excellent advice.
    Thanks for sharing your story with us.
    People don't realize when participate in making counterfeit goods, they are pegs in much larger crime units. It's so bad.

    xoxo
    ~Natasha Fatah~
    ~Natasha Fatah~

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  2. I love all the Chanel videos you made on youtube and the very detailed written blogs on their authenticity.
    Also, it makes me jealous to see that you own so many Chanel items! ENVY.

    I love your blog and will continue reading. Maybe you could check out my blog too when u have time :)

    wytane.blogspot.com xoxo

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  3. wow thanks for sharing Jean! always great advice :)

    Laura x

    demure-porcelain.blogspot.com

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  4. Thank you for your tips!
    I love your blog.

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  5. Wow - great tips! I love that you offer your own observations versus just "get it authenticated at tPF" which is what I tell my friends LOL. I will forever look out for the those little nubs if I decide to go for a Chanel brooch!

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  6. So well-written and informative. Thank you for the tips, Jean!

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  7. Wow, when I looked at the two pictures, I thought that the counterfeit one was the real deal!

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  8. Lovely!

    nicole.blog.ca

    xx Nicole

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  9. jean you always have the best posts and def the best blogger out there! Thanks for sharing! how much did you pay for your authentic brooch?

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    Replies
    1. Hi there - I paid a little over $250. I've seen the same design and size (2.25" wide) sell for $300 + ship on Malleries and again on ebay (by the seller who rejected my negotiation : ), so I think anywhere around there is a fair price.

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  10. Thanks for this I'll keep this in mind. I think the broach looked great with the scarf.

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  11. Really informative post! Thank you for taking the time out to provide great info. Strange that no one caught on to the Etsy seller.

    Helen

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  12. Were you able to return it for refund and report him?

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    Replies
    1. Waiting patiently for my refund first...seller is overseas (from Paris) so shipping was a risk with no tracking.

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  13. Your former blog clone got what looks to be the identical pin and says she got it authenticated by two Chanel sales associates. Who to believe?

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    Replies
    1. Is it bad that I knew right away when you said "blog clone" that you were talking about Really Petite? =P

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    2. If only I could Facebook "like" the first reply to this comment!

      Actually, on that same post, someone posted an Etsy link and it looks like she'll be returning the pin as well.

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  14. Such great advice, Annie! I will definitely be bookmarking this post for use in the future - thanks for sharing! :)

    http://www.pennypincherfashion.com

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    Replies
    1. Girl, this is Jean, not her dollar store copycat! No shade, just wanted to let you know. :)

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    2. If only I could "like" THIS comment. Rofl!

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    3. *LIKE X10! lol.

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  15. Hi Jean,

    Thanks so much for this post! I was looking at the same brooch a few weeks ago (after you and Annie tweeted about it) but became very skeptical when I saw that the seller had multiple listings both for the chanel pin and several other YSL pieces. I ended up submitting the listing to TPF a week or two ago and Étinceler Authentications responded that it wasn't real: http://tinyurl.com/7z8p4j9. What a bummer! I really hope you get your money back and that Esty removes the listing because it is a very good fake (it even has a little square demarcation on the bottom left of the CC, a marking that appears on the CC clasp of one of my real chanel bags).

    i love the one you ended up purchasing! Was that an ebay find?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the confirmation...I really should have gotten an opinion from TPF first!

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    2. PS - I didn't see your last question. I got this one from Etsy but I've seen the same design on both eBay and Malleries listed at the same price (was listed at $300).

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  16. good advice on authenticity is hard to come by. for buying on ebay, i wrote a a few tips for checking out the seller on goofbay. it can be quite helpful. for these types of things i dont buy if the seller has multiples, as you said. the small details are very hard to catch, especially if you dont know how old a particular piece is.

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  17. great tips, jean. thanks so much. your posts are always so informative and helpful.

    the brooch you ended up with is so much nicer. i really like all the details about it.

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  18. Great tips! Thanks for posting!

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  19. Very informative post, Jean!
    It's beautiful.

    @ AnonymousApr 8, 2012 08:38 AM - According to her twitter, her two Chanel reps are from Neimans and Nordstroms.

    BUT..
    http://forum.purseblog.com/chanel-shopping/authenticate-chanel-read-rules-use-format-post-1-a-731359-327.html#post21505598
    http://forum.purseblog.com/chanel-shopping/authenticate-chanel-read-rules-use-format-post-1-a-731359-329.html#post21506559

    Hm....

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the links! I wish I used TPF's volunteer services first : /

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  20. Good post. I could tell even from the photo that the left brooch was the fake although its not that easy to tell sometimes.

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  21. first of all it's such an elegant idea!!! Second your advices are really good, thanks a lot

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  22. Great post, Jean! Very informative. I like how you showed us the different ways of wearing a brooch. : )

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  23. Hi Jean,

    This is Thuy Nguyen (your recent giveaway winner :). I've sent you a message via Facebook with my address for the giveaway. Thank you so much! Please let me know if you have received my message!

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  24. Thank you for sharing your tips, Jean. I've come across a few vintage ones that had the year soldered into the back. Very tiny. You almost need a loupe just to see it.

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  25. interesting post, thank you!
    http://silviainvenice.blogspot.it/

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  26. This is really helpful! Thansk for the pointers.
    http://aneyeforfashion.blogspot.com/

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  27. This is very informative, Jean, thanks so much!! Can't wait to see your outfit photos with the brooch!

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  28. GREAT post Jean! I've been thinking about investing in a Chanel brooch for the longest time and this post rekindled my desire to hunt again. Always look forward to your posts!

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  29. Very informative post Jean! Thanks!

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  30. Great tips.

    Were you by chance in Chinatown this afternoon? I was a block behind a very petite woman with long black hair and wearing a kelly green J Crew Lady Day coat. I wanted to yell your name but wasn't sure if it was you. I swear I'm not a stalker, just curious to know if I missed a celebrity sighting! :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Rosie! How funny - yes, that was me on my lunch break : ) Next time, please say hello!

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    2. Oh, no, can't believe it missed you! I will keep my eyes peeled and hope to say hello to my favorite blogger in person sometime soon!

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  31. Great post! I was just looking at the exact brooch on eBay the other day and glad I have guideline to follow now. Thanks again!

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  32. Hi Jean, we at PYRAMODE absolutely despise fakes and have been authenticating Chanel jewelry for years. If you, or any of your readers, ever need help authenticating or dating any of your vintage Chanel pieces definitely let us know. Or if anyone wants to buy a vintage Chanel piece, and wants to negotiate, we can help too. Thanks so much for helping to educate people about fake vintage Chanel costume jewelry :)

    Tiff
    www.PYRAMODE.com

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  33. Hi Jean,

    Thanks for an informative post on how to detect Chanel counterfeit pins. It's admirable the way you analyzed your purchase and were able to determine what was genuine.

    One time, I won a bid on a Hermes belt on eBay and afterward asked for authentication on TPF. (I should've asked for advice on TPF first.) To my dismay, TPF told me it was not a genuine belt. I reported it to eBay and also messaged the seller, but he didn't reply. Thankfully, I hadn't paid for it yet and the transaction was cancelled. The red flag was that this seller didn't have a large or strong record of selling luxury items.

    Bela Anzu

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  34. Sorry you got duped, Jean. :( I hate that feeling & I wonder how those sleezeballs sleep at night. This was a great, informative post with lots of great tips. I also love TPF for authenticity questions.

    xx
    The Fashionable ESQ

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  35. The counterfeit market is so scary because unless you really train yourself it's so easy to get duped. So many people do. I'm so glad you actually received this fake, if only to be able to do this post and educate us.
    PS: love your blog... I know I rarely, rarely post however you've been in my Reader for more than a year. Such great advice, style! Happy Monday.

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  36. Thanks for this very thorough and informative post Jean! I'll definitely be more careful when I make my purchase.

    I love the one you got (the texture + size) can't wait to see which one you add to your collection next. :)

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  37. oo nice ; ]

    www.live-style20.blogspot.com

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  38. Jean... great article... loads of useful tips!
    Love the use of the brooch for the four different styles!

    i need your help, i found this on ebay
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/100-AUTH-CHANEL-VINTAGE-CC-BROOCH-PIN-/280860970868?pt=Designer_Jewelry&hash=item41649e4f74#ht_3704wt_976
    do you think its a good buy for $180?

    thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Be sure to compare the measurements to a ruler so you know how big it is. Some brooches look bigger in photos than they are, and this is a smaller one. It seems authentic but I personally probably wouldn't order from an overseas seller again due to the hassle of mailing it back without tracking if it turns out to be fake or damaged.

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    2. Makes sense.... thank you.. will be on the lookout!
      Great great tips :)

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  39. Great tips, thanks! I haven't bought anything designer and vintage but I love your tips!

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  40. Hi Jean:

    Thank you for sharing this post! It's really helpful and it really gives me the idea which is the authentic ones.

    I wonder how much did you get your brooch from Chanel? I've been looking for one for quite a long time. Thank you

    Victorieannie.com

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    Replies
    1. I paid a little over $250 after negotiating!

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  41. Thank you for sharing. It's very generous of you to impart wisdom and let us live vicariously through you.
    When looking at the two side by side, I guessed that the one on the left was fake, because it had a very generic look to it, like it could very easily be mass produced. Also, you only posted pictures of 'how to wear this brooch' with the real deal, so I figure you wouldn't want to do that with the fake, since you probably had your mind made up about shipping that thing back and getting your money back in your pocket!
    Well, have a great day! -JW

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  42. Great GREAT Post!!! I find this so helpful as I am also looking for a nice Chanel brooch. Thank you taking the time to do this!

    http://www.LifeAnnStyle.com

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  43. Great post!!! Thanks for sharing with the rest of us. That red scarf is beautiful! :)

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  44. Thanks for the tips. I really like your pearl necklace in this post. May I know where you got it from?

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    Replies
    1. I got it from eBay. If you search rope pearls or pearl necklaces and sort prices from low to high, you'll find a lot of affordable options shipped from China.

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    2. Thanks for another informative post. Can you do a post and share some of your experience with buying pearls on ebay. I'm looking for a super long pearl rope (70"+ in 7-8mm) and see the choices on ebay is abundant and at times overwhelming. The prices can range anywhere from $15 all the way to $100+. Can you share the names of the vendor you brought yours from? Many thanks.

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  45. Thank you for the tips and opening our eyes. It isn't difficult to be fooled if we're not paying attention enough.

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  46. I miss your H&M haul blogs! Now I never know what to look for when I go there. Hope to see an H&M update soon! :)

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  47. Personally I do not prefer to wear brooches that yell its brand. This Chanel brooch is not my type for sure. On the other hand, this is a very informative post:3

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  48. I love the brooch! However, having over 8 years of fine jewelry experience, I prefer purchasing real 10k / 14k / 18k gold jewelry vs. any costume jewelry.

    I share some jewelry tips at http://www.StyleAt30.com.

    Feel free to ask me any questions regarding precious stones & metals.

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  49. You seriously have to do alot of research now because of counterfeit! I love authentic piece though! It's gorgeous!

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  50. Thank you so much for this post! I was about to purchase the exact brooch from Etsy. It was sold a few days ago, then listed again today!

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  51. I also saw the same brooch on Etsy! The seller also had alot of other pretty nice looking designer brooches, looks rather tempting! Thanks for the info.

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  52. I almost made the purchase on etsy... thank you so much for sharing your experience!!!

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  53. You are absolutely wrong about this pin, sorry ! Some designers make what we call in France 'Perfume jewelry', gifts -often pieces of jewelry-, which are sold for short periods with perfumes, or offered to special customers. This pin is a typical example.
    What make people doubt is the difference of manufacturing, those pieces are indeed mass produced, so it is not surprising that the seller this person is talking about had several similar pins, he was probably working in the persume business or had connections..

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  54. I just came across the matching vintage earrings on Modnique.com!

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  55. would you be able to share from which website you bought the brooch?

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  56. I bought the exact brooch! ugh..after visiting the Chanel pins at a local boutique I looked for exactly what you wrote about... you are so right! I knew my purchase was too good to be true- excellent post teachingfashionista.blogspot.com

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  57. Great advise- I almost fell for a fake!

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