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.

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79 Comments

  1. sunash wrote:

    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!

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  2. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  3. Ka Mila wrote:
    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  4. Jackie wrote:

    Great advice!

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  5. Rosie wrote:

    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!

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  6. Elle wrote:

    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. 🙂

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  7. Alyson wrote:

    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.

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  8. Hi Rosie! How funny – yes, that was me on my lunch break : ) Next time, please say hello!

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  9. Thanks for the links! I wish I used TPF's volunteer services first : /

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  10. Thanks for the confirmation…I really should have gotten an opinion from TPF first!

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  11. Waiting patiently for my refund first…seller is overseas (from Paris) so shipping was a risk with no tracking.

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  12. 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.

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  13. 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

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  14. Anonymous wrote:

    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

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  15. PYRAMODE wrote:

    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
    http://www.PYRAMODE.com

    Posted 4.9.12 Reply
  16. rezel wrote:

    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!

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  17. Rosie wrote:

    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! 🙂

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  18. girlymd wrote:

    thanks for the post 🙂 <3

    girlymd.blogspot.com

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  19. newpetite wrote:

    Very informative post Jean! Thanks!

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  20. 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!

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  21. elle.b wrote:

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

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  22. Kat wrote:

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

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  23. interesting post, thank you!
    http://silviainvenice.blogspot.it/

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  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.

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  25. Thuy Nguyen wrote:

    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!

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  26. Great post, Jean! Very informative. I like how you showed us the different ways of wearing a brooch. : )

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  27. first of all it's such an elegant idea!!! Second your advices are really good, thanks a lot

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  28. Jody wrote:

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

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  29. Anonymous wrote:

    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….

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  30. Chris wrote:

    Great tips! Thanks for posting!

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  31. lin wrote:

    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.

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  32. Corina wrote:

    Lovely tips!

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  33. 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.

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  34. 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?

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  35. DSK Steph wrote:

    Great post!

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  36. Kimberly wrote:

    Such great advice, Annie! I will definitely be bookmarking this post for use in the future – thanks for sharing! 🙂

    http://www.pennypincherfashion.com

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  37. Anonymous wrote:

    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?

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  38. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  39. 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

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  40. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  41. Anonymous wrote:

    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?

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  42. Nicole wrote:

    Lovely!

    nicole.blog.ca

    xx Nicole

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  43. awesome posts as always! thank you!

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  44. Wow, when I looked at the two pictures, I thought that the counterfeit one was the real deal!

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  45. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  46. 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!

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  47. peaches wrote:

    Thank you for your tips!
    I love your blog.

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  48. LAURA wrote:

    wow thanks for sharing Jean! always great advice 🙂

    Laura x

    demure-porcelain.blogspot.com

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  49. Wytane wrote:

    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

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply
  50. 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~

    Posted 4.8.12 Reply

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