Have you had your eye on that special diamond ring, or a high quality branded necklace? Jewellery can be a significant and personal purchase, quality jewellery can last a lifetime and even be passed down for generations. Unfortunately, the market is saturated with fake or low quality copies, and it can turn a memorable investment into a traumatic experience.
To help you get what you pay for and not be fooled by fakery, here is a list of tips and things to look out for:
If it seems to good to be true, it probably is! Quality jewellery will rarely be sold on a website you have never heard of for "80% off", it seems like an obvious point but according to the 2012/13 Intellectual Property Office Annual Report, around seven million people visit sites offering illegal content in the UK each and every month.
If you are buying online, does the company have a range of products, not just one particular brand or type? Check the images of the products they sell, they should be original and not stolen from another company. If they do not have any photos of the jewellery you wish to buy, do not purchase anything from them!
If you are looking to buy from eBay, be very careful who you chose to purchase from. It is the prime location for fake jewellery and counterfeits. Check the sellers history, if they have just sold 10 other similar items cheaply, they are probably fakes. However if the seller has sold other unwanted branded items that you are sure are real, they are probably genuine and selling off unwanted assets. Reviews and feedback are always a good indication to the quality of the person/company.
Location is also a giveaway, Asia is a hotspot for producing jewellery copies. Try to purchase from large chains or local businesses.
The jewellery and packaging
If you can check your jewellery for a stamp or hallmark, look out for 9 Carat Gold, 14 Carat Gold, 18 Carat Gold, 22 Carat Gold, 950 Platinum, 950 Silver. There are only 4 assay offices in the UK, these are London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh. Always check for these hallmarks, if you are unsure of what they look like, download this PDF.
Costume jewellery will use fake glass or plastic gemstones, not real diamonds or stones. They use metal alloys such as brass, nickel and various other combinations, sometimes covered in a thin gold plating to make them look good. These cheaper alternatives are prone to chips and corrosion, which inevitably leads to irritation, itchy skin and inflammation.
If you are buying a branded item, make sure you study the font and logo of the company and compare closely. Weldings points on links are also an important area, pay attention to any lumps that suggest poor spot welding, and it should feel weighty, solid and robust. Top companies will brand each item of jewellery with their own hallmarks, make sure you identify them.
To mimic silver or white gold, fake jewellery is sometimes plated with a very thin layer of the most expensive metal on earth, Rhodium. Once this thin layer is worn away, the shiny appearance will fade and the colour of the metal below will start to show. If you check the underside of a ring for a stamp, such as 14k or 10k it will signify what type of gold the ring is made of. If you see this stamp, and the ring is silver in colour, it’s rhodium plated.
Real diamond rings come with a certificate, if they do not offer one be sure to ask for it. Also read over the other paper work that comes with your jewellery, it should be printed to a high quality and have information of the brand and the jewellery you have bought, with aftercare help.
There are a few easy ways to test of the gold on your new jewellery is real:
- Check for the stamp: karat (10K, 14K, 18K, 22K or 24K).
- The magnet test. If your gold sticks to a magnet, its not real as gold is not magnetic.
- Gold is a soft metal, therefore you should be able to make a slight indent with your teeth.
- If you cannot be sure, take it to a local jeweller who can do further tests.
Packaging is a good gauge to the authenticity of jewellery, quality companies have just as high standards when it comes to the box. If it looks cheap, it may well be a fake. Do not base your judgement on just the packaging however, as it is easy to get hold of real packaging and box the fake jewellery inside!
Reputable companies will offer an aftercare service for quality jewellery, so be sure to dig further into the website if you are online. Ask in store for more information if you cannot do some research before hand.
If you buy from eBay, paypal will refund your money if you follow the correct procedures. Be sure to post the items back recorded to delivery to ensure they do not "lose" the jewellery.
If you’ve fallen foul of fakery, you should report it directly to the seller as well as reporting it to Trading Standards.
Have you bought a fake product, deliberately or accidentally? Did you try to return it and what happened when you did?