Designer Vault created this guide on how to authenticate Chanel jewelry which takes you from era to era and points out which markings to look out for.
Among her many feats during her tenure in the fashion world including popularizing LBDs, the use of jersey material, and trousers for women- Coco Chanel has also been credited with the introduction of costume jewelry to women’s everyday lives. Along with popularity, however also comes an abundance of knockoffs. Our authentication team at Designer Vault has come up with a few tell-tale signs to look for when trying to distinguish the real from the fake.
Quality of Materials
When inspecting Chanel jewelry, the first thing you’ll experience is the overall quality of the piece- from the materials it is made from to the design and level of craftsmanship to which it was produced. For costume jewelry produced between the 1970s and 1990s, the weight of the piece should be heavy as most are crafted from a heavy base metal and then gold plated. Many vintage pieces include Gripoix glass elements, a jewel-toned stone made from molten glass. The house of Gripoix is also credited with being the first to develop the faux pearl luster that has been signature of Chanel for decades.
It is important to also note the quality of any molding and finishing. As with all items manufactured by the brand, only the highest craftsmanship will have been used if it is indeed genuine Chanel.
Like the brand itself, Chanel jewelry also has a long, rich history. Depending on the season that a piece was produced, the hallmarks and signature marks of Chanel will vary in type and placement on the pieces. When looking at these stamps, it’s important to scrutinize the font, depth and location of the different insignias.
We’ve compiled the following timeline to showcase the changes throughout the history of Chanel
Timeline- examples of items from different eras
1950s-early 1960s– Coco Chanel enlisted the help of Robert Goossens during this time. Designs that are indicative of Goossens style include early baroque and Byzantine styles that incorporated Gripoix glass and pearls. Basic stamps did however, start appearing at this time, such as a simple Chanel logo in all capital characters, sometimes with a line of three stars underneath. Much of the pieces remained with blank, as they were still used for the most part to accent clothing. Items with hallmarks may appear somewhat uneven due to early techniques of stamping.
1970’s– With the passing of Chanel herself, Alain Wertheimer gained control of the company and began incorporating more trademark, copyright, insignia and country of origin into the design. There are also pieces that simply have the stamped brand name and the copyright symbol. Again, because of early techniques, the stamping may not always appear as even as on more modern pieces.
Early 1980’s– With Karl Lagerfeld taking over the helm of Chanel during this time period, the logo and hallmarks on jewelry changed yet again. For this era you will see both Chanel with a trademark logo, along with the insignia, copyright symbol and the year manufactured. Additionally, on many pieces there will be an oval shaped plaque with the brand name, copyright, trademark, and Made in France stamped differently than in periods past and future.
1986-1992 Victoire de Castellane came to Chanel as Lagerfeld’s assistant. Designs from this era are signified by two numbers on either side of the Chanel insignia in the center of the logo placard on jewelry. This is based on the season number, from 23-29.
Early 1993- present. From the early 1990s (after de Castellane’s exit) the year made, in the form of a two-digit number and a season code was added. You can interpret the season code by the following: P or A depicting if the piece debuted in Spring (printemps) or Fall (automne). More current collections will also have the notation C (cruise) or V denoting a collection that is in continuous circulation.
A note on Country of Origin and method of stamping:
Chanel began producing jewelry in Italy in the early 2000s. During this time, laser etching was also introduced into the production process. You can determine the use of a laser-etched design by the exactness and crispness of the logo and font.
While this guide should be very helpful in helping to determine the authenticity of vintage Chanel costume jewelry, the best way to know that you’re handling a 100% authentic piece is to purchase it from a reputable reseller or have the piece authenticated by a trusted source.
There are other guides on authenticating Chanel like this one from The RealReal but Designer Vault is becoming the go to purveyors for buying and selling all things Chanel!