– 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… – 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…
(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.
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.
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.
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.