If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Tiffany & Co. jewelry should feel truly flattered—their jewelry is some of the most counterfeited in the industry. Cheap jewelry stamped with “T & Co.” regularly appears at estate auctions, antique dealers, and many internet jewelry sites.
In fact, the practice is so prevalent that there is even a website devoted exclusively to exposing sellers of Tiffany fakes.
If you are like many who would like to own a piece of genuine Tiffany jewelry but just can’t afford the premium associated with Tiffany’s official website or an authorized Tiffany dealer, the following tips might help you avoid the disappointment of buying a fake Tiffany piece.
Know the Seller
If you are purchasing your Tiffany & Co. jewelry from an estate jewelry store or pawn shop, see what written guarantees they offer should the item turn out to be a fake. Also, bear in mind that there are some businesses who claim to be ‘official’ dealers but offer discounts and bargains like ‘discontinued’ pieces or ‘wholesale’ pricing. These sellers are not Tiffany dealers: official Tiffany boutiques and re-sellers never discount their jewelry.
If you are willing to try a website like Ebay, be sure to do your homework. Investigate the seller, and compare pictures of their sale items with the Tiffany website. When in doubt, simply don’t buy—if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Even when the seller seems to be authentic, there are some fairly easy ways to detect all but the very best fakes.
Soldered Joints and Links
Tiffany jewelry is renowned for its perfection, and one way fakes can be easily detected is by careless or sloppy soldering. Joints should be perfect, and on any Tiffany chain, whether a necklace or bracelet, the individual links should be perfectly soldered and continuous. The links will never be simply pinched together in an authentic piece. If you can see a line where the link was fused, it is probably a fake.
Hallmarks and Other Stamps
Simply stated, any mark, logo, or stamp on an authentic Tiffany piece will be perfect. Not only will the edges of the mark be perfectly crisp and clean (except if the piece is quite old and subjected to wear), it will be stamped or engraved into a uniform metal, and will not show any color. Fakes made from plated brass will often show a telltale sign of brass where the piece was engraved. The edges of marks on fake pieces are often blurred, slightly askew, or even off center. A piece with any of these features is certainly counterfeit.
For newer pieces that feature the full “Tiffany & Co.” stamp, the “T” and “C” are almost always larger, though this isn’t always true of vintage pieces. If the piece features all uniform letters, you should probably investigate the piece (or the seller) further.
Authentic Tiffany jewelry always has a purity mark that indicates the purity of the metal used. Sterling silver pieces will feature either “925” or “Sterling,” indicating that the silver content is 92.5%. Silver at this purity is fairly heavy, and will feel substantial in your hand. A bit of time at a reliable jeweler can help you learn to gauge what a Sterling silver piece ought to feel like.
While you can always use a test kit to verify the silver content, you can also inspect the piece carefully, especially around joints and engravings, as sometimes the base metal can show through. Since magnets will not indicate that a piece is plated brass, magnets are rarely a good test for silver.
Diamond Estate Jewelry Buyers purchases previously-owned Tiffany bracelets, necklaces, rings, and pendants. If you are looking to sell your Tiffany jewelry, please contact us today for a free verbal appraisal and immediate cash offer.