On Fakes

Because most of my finds come from thrift shops or antique markets, I do not know their provenance.

Why is it so important to know where a piece came from? Documented evidence of provenance for an object can help to establish that it has not been altered and is not a forgery or a reproduction. I’m not keen on supporting fakes.

Popular Tiffany & Co. designs are particularly hard to authenticate because there are so many knock offs out there. And when you’re thrifting, your more likely to come across a a forgery because people are less likely to donate something that cost them $300 than they are to toss out something that cost $50.

Some are obviously fake — like the faux Tiffany Somerset ring pictured above. It has no markings, it’s just a copy of the Somerset in spirit. Some call it a tribute, some call it intellectual property theft.

The bracelet pictured below is a much cleverer forgery. It looks like the 10-Row chain bracelet (a now retired design). It is well-made, tested solid silver. The links are all smoothly soldered. It is even signed Tiffany & Co. in all the right places. However, the markings are not clearly and cleanly stamped as they should be on a real bracelet. It is what they call a better-quality fake, but a fake just the same.

The last piece — An Elsa Peretti open heart pendant — much harder to authenticate. It looks right. The markings seem correct. But on the other hand, the signature lacks the word “Spain” after the 925. Some folks will tell you that earlier pieces didn’t have this mark. And it is missing its chain, but hey, chains break or become separated from their pendants all the time. Tiffany will not authenticate any jewelry, so this one sits in the realm of uncertainty.

Like I said, I don’t like to support fakery on account of I would not want my designs copied. Not that I have any designs. I bought them because I was hoped that they were real (or, like the 10 row bracelet, it came tangled up in a lot of other jewelry). I’m not looking to sell because I don’t want to continue the cycle, so I will wear them. I just won’t tell people they’re real.