Chanel pin

by Dr. Lori Verderame

Chanel jewelry was crafted for the famous Chanel fashion house in France for decades. While most Chanel fashion jewelry pieces were made in France, more recently Chanel jewelry has been crafted in Italy from the early 2000s. Everyone knows the international Chanel brand. The high-quality pieces that are associated with the Chanel brand and designed by the best of the best also brought an interest for their pieces to be copied. With fame, came imitators. How to spot a Chanel fake? Chanel fakes are in the marketplace hosting the Chanel logo but none of the quality attributes.

Chanel pin

How can you tell the real deal from the fake junk fashion jewelry? Here are some tips to educate your eyes about Chanel costume jewelry.

Chanel Fakes

Tell tale signs of how to spot a Chanel fake are not too easy to identify. Some people say it is an acquired art to spot the real Chanel costume jewelry but essentially you have to develop an eye for spotting Chanel fakes first. Here’s how…

First off, if a mark on a Chanel piece is not clear or sharp, then you probably have a fake. A Chanel mark will be on the object but on fakes, it may not be of the correct orientation, wrong placement, or wrong type, etc. Counterfeit logos and signature marks are evident if they are molded into the object itself. What does that mean? If a Chanel logo is pressed into the back of a pair of earrings making the Chanel name illegible, then it is probably not a real piece of Chanel fashion or costume jewelry. When a logo is pressed into a piece of fashion jewelry the result is that the mark comes out illegible and you can’t read it easily. When such a mark is magnified, then the letter forms clearly look misshapen.

The double C logo for Chanel within the design is common but if you find no other marks on a piece of fashion jewelry that is supposed to be authentic Chanel, then you should stop in your tracks and consider whether or not you have a fake. And, if you are struggling to read a Chanel logo mark on a piece of jewelry with a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe, then you don’t have the real deal. If you can’t read the mark under magnification with a loupe, you don’t have a piece of real Chanel costume or jewelry. Another point about marks is if you have a pair of Chanel earrings and there are no oval plates attached to them with the Chanel logo on those oval plates, then you have fakes, too. And the cartouches or oval plates with the logo on them may fall off the earrings over time, but rarely does a signature or logo cartouche (oval plate) get detached from an earring on both of the earrings in a pair. So look out for those signs of forgery too.

This issue of quality stands out if you have Chanel pieces that are light weight. Your pair of fake Chanel earrings will be light weight but the real ones will not be light weight at all. If a pair of earrings don’t carry much heft, you know you have a fake.

Fake Chanel pieces show wear and show their lack of quality too. For instance, a piece of Chanel jewelry that shows its wear may do so by a loss of plating material or by a thin surface of gold plating. Chanel fakes show wear in obvious places such as where a person’s skin regularly touches the piece of costume jewelry. So typically, this type of wear to the plating will appear on the back of an earring, for instance, where the piece touches the skin most obviously.

Another tell-tale sign of how to spot a Chanel fake piece of jewelry, typically earrings, is a flat clip on back. Most clip on earrings by Chanel have a slight curve and opening in the top of the clip to add comfort to the ear lobe when wearing the earrings. If you see a very flat clip on back, that’s not the real thing.

True Chanel

Genuine Chanel marks are almost always very clearly legible when magnified. Real Chanel marks are easy to read and they are on oval cartouche plaques and show information about the brand such as Made in France and a copyright symbol depending on the time period. Marks of Chanel and Made in France should be found on oval cartouche plates which are applied to the back of a pair of earrings by Chanel.

Most Chanel earrings, circa 1970s-1990s, will carry various Chanel marks. These marks can be incised into the piece, affixed on a plate or within a cartouche which is usually oval in shape and they will be easy to read. Look for the signature Chanel cartouche on pieces of real Chanel costume jewelry and don’t forget to look for a nicely shaped, curved clip-on earring backing too.

Genuine Chanel jewelry is often gold or silver plated. By design, Chanel is not chintzy or cheap with the amount of gold or silver plating material that it uses on its costume jewelry. It is rare to see the gold plating wear off of a true example of Chanel fashion jewelry. The gold plated finish is a quality indicator for Chanel and it does not wear off easily. Real Chanel has a finish that holds up to regular wear over time. If your Chanel fashion jewelry is flaking you probably have a fake. Remember flaking and faking go hand in hand.

Another point to consider is that Chanel jewelry pieces are heavy. They look weighty on the models and they are. They were made with a strong base metal and enhanced with thick silver or gold plating so there is a thickness and a weight to the real thing when it comes to Chanel jewelry pieces. Here is why Chanel costume jewelry is the quality standard.

Genuine Chanel costume jewelry earrings are made of base metals and base metals are heavy including stainless steel, rhodium, rhodium over steel, etc. These earrings are then plated with precious metals such as sterling silver, platinum, and gold.

Chanel clip on earrings should have a double-forged back. This technique ensures that the set stones, inset molded glass, or other materials will not fall out of its setting nor will it disengage from the metal setting of the jewelry piece. Chanel costume jewelry metals have strength and these pieces do not easily bend or twist. As expected, Chanel costume jewelry is weighty and solid because of the materials used in the production process.

Chanel signature stamps differ over time too. Here are some key tips to spot the real Chanel signature stamps throughout the ages and over the years.  The type of signature mark and its placement on a piece of jewelry are both important when identifying a Chanel jewelry piece’s authenticity.

Chanel Marks

Chanel pin mark

It is always important to be able to spot a true Chanel logo or signature mark and how to spot a Chanel fake. Here are some clues to spotting marks and to understanding when a piece was made. The logo marks or signature items can help you identify time period of a piece of jewelry.

Early Chanel costume jewelry made before 1939 wasn’t marked with the brand name. No marks, it was marketed by its style and design and it was traced in that manner. World War II saw many changes for  many jewelry designers and manufacturers. The post war era was a transitional period for Chanel and many other fashion and jewelry designers introducing new materials and production techniques. By the 1950s to the early 1960s, the Chanel logo was simple and recognizable to many. The mid-century modern period logo featured the name Chanel in capital letters with a row of three stars beneath the company name. It was a highly recognizable logo. In the 1970s, Chanel’s mark included the brand name and added the all-important copyright © symbol to protect its designs and intellectual property.

In the 1980s, Chanel used a trademark logo. Like most jewelry designers of the period, this trademark logo didn’t stray far from the firm’s well-known brand image. This logo included the Chanel insignia, the copyright symbol and the year of manufacture. From 1986 to 1990, Chanel marks also included the Chanel insignia but added two digits beside the insignia. In the early to mid 1990s, Chanel’s manufacture year took the form of a two-digit number and a season code was added.

The late 20th Century saw increased interest in Chanel costume jewelry pieces and designs for personal adornment items. For its marks, there were some changes. In the early 2000s, Chanel used laser etching on its marked items. And, genuine Chanel costume jewelry including earrings produced over the last 20 years were laser-engraved with the Chanel logo and additional markings. The use of laser etching resulted in very sharp letter forms for the Chanel logo which is a very good way to identify the real from how to spot a Chanel fake.

When you are trying to tell the real Chanel from the fake knock offs, look for marks, quality of materials, placement of logo cartouches, and traditional double C designs. Tools such as jeweler’s loupe and magnification lenses will help you to see the sharp, crisp, and clear letter forms of a real Chanel logo signature.

Style will also be extremely important when identifying the value of your costume jewelry piece by Chanel. For instance, the double C logo is used as a design element often by Chanel and it with added materials like high quality faux pearls, molded glass, plated gold settings, and faux gemstones, are all part of the Chanel design attributes that attract collectors and shoppers. These tips will help you find great Chanel pieces that are real and steer clear of the fakes and knockoffs that are still selling for big money on the market today. Don’t forget to look for quality when you are seeking out a Chanel piece of costume jewelry and confirm your feelings about a specific piece by comparing real signature logos and stylish pieces with fakes.

Watch videos on my YouTube channel where I talk more about how to spot a Chanel fake. I can appraise your Chanel jewelry from photos or you can show me your Chanel jewelry during a video call.