Mimicry is often labeled the ultimate form of flattery. I can assure you, however, that Tiffany & Co. is not flattered by the small number of con-artists who manufacture cheap jewelry and then stamp it with the T & Co. name in order to capitalize on Tiffany’s hard earned reputation. The purpose of this guide is to help you sort out the real McCoy from the wannabees.
The surest way to buy authentic T & Co. jewelry is go directly to Tiffany’s website, a Tiffany Authorized re-seller or a Tiffany Boutique. For those of us who cannot afford to buy new pieces, or simply choose to buy estate pieces, it can be difficult to know when we are getting the real thing and when we’re being duped. Experienced Tiffany buyers will tell you that there is simply no comparison between the feel and look of the real thing versus the cheap copies being hocked at street bazaars and shady online stores. However, if you don’t have a lot of hands on experience, you can be fooled by some of the clever fakes. What you need is a quick guide to help you identify the tell-tale signs of a counterfeit piece.
1. Soldered Links:
Links on Tiffany Jewelry should be soldered continuous links. There should not be a line where the link can be separated. This is a very common give-away on fakes. In the photos below you can see a counterfeit Tiffany heart toggle necklace and a close-up of the links. This necklace was sold to us by a silver dealer.
Compare the links in the necklace above to the links in the authentic Tiffany heart toggle piece below. Note how the smooth perfectly round links on the real one have no seams:
All stamps, logos and lines on a piece of modern Tiffany jewelry should be perfect. Below, take a look at the bangle in the top two photos. While it might look convincing from a distance, the Cartouche around the 1837 logo is off center and crooked. We purchased this bracelet from a website for $190.00. The site refunded our money without question when we complained that it was not authentic. You would never see a crooked logo like this on an authentic Tiffany bangle like the one on the bottom. Also – you can actually see the brass coming through the engraving on the top photo. Like most fakes, it is silver plated brass (sometimes copper or zinc as well). Note that on vintage and antique pieces, the Tiffany logo will appear on the back of the piece – these back marks are sometimes less than perfect.
Newer authentic Tiffany pieces that actually use the full name “Tiffany & Co.” will almost always use a larger T and larger C. If the piece has all uniform letters, you should investigate it further because it may be a fake. For vintage pieces, this rule goes out the window. The marks TIFFANY & CO. and even just “TIFFANY 18K” were used on genuine vintage Tiffany pieces.
4. Silver Content:
Authentic Tiffany jewelry will always be marked with a fineness mark (aka “purity mark” and sometimes mistakenly called a “hallmark”). For sterling silver pieces the purity mark will be either “925” or “Sterling”, the latter being more common on vintage pieces. The content of the piece will be 92.5% silver. While Tiffany did make some large silver plated tea platters in the early part of the 20th century, Tiffany jewelry, especially modern pieces, is all solid silver. If you have a test kit, you can safely perform a touchstone test. If not, inspect the piece closely with a magnifying glass for wear. Pay particular attention to stamped and engraved areas as well as joints. As you can see the fake 1837 bracelet above, it is sometimes possible to see the base metal coming through the silver. Look at the 1827 ingot necklace below. We used sand paper to remove the outer silver layer and expose the underlying brass. IMPORTANTLY — magnets will not distinguish between sterling silver and silver plated brass — magnets are in fact rarely ever a reliable test for silver.
Though not common, you might sometimes encounter what we call “super fakes”. These pieces will fool even an experienced jeweler. We recently came across a heart tag “super fake” which appears below.
Unlike the examples described above, this bracelet is made from solid sterling silver. It also features soldered links, which can be seen in the photo below.
There are still some details which give it away as a fake. Let’s start with the Back of the donut loop. The 925 mark is askew, uneven and off strike.
The letters on the heart tag bleed into the top surface.
The welds and joints are generally sloppy. See photos below.
The Heart tag is also domed, has a grainy texture and varies in thickness. It is also not signed on the back — which is not always fatal — but in this case, seals the deal.
When in doubt — don’t buy it. Always ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask for more pictures / closeups if you are buying online. Never buy a piece if the seller is representing it as “I was told” “I think this is authentic” or “Buy at your own risk”. It’s just not worth the headache. Please feel free to ask us any questions you may have. Thanks as always for reading our jewelry blog! Please also visit our ebay store if you are in the market for jewelry today!