March 30, 2015
By Jody Hume
HOW TO AUTHENTICATE TIFFANY & CO. JEWELRYSHOP TIFFANY & CO.
With a history that stretches back to 1837, Tiffany & Co. is known for its legacy of producing masterpieces. From exquisite Art Deco designs to the creations of revered designers like Jean Schlumberger and Elsa Peretti, to its role as the place where nothing bad can happen to Holly Golightly, the jewelry house has become a cultural icon. Today’s celebrities still turn to Tiffany & Co. when they want to stun on the red carpet, and the house has recently been infused with a new creative spirit in the form of recently appointed design director Francesca Amfitheatrof. The first woman to hold the position, she brings a refreshing confidence to the house and has hit the ground running, unveiling her new Tiffany T collection and revealing to Vogue that she may even dare to put her own spin on Tiffany’s signature blue boxes. With such a storied history and enduring popularity, Tiffany & Co. creations are prime targets for counterfeiting. Here, our Expert Team Lead for Fine Jewelry & Watches, Adriana Krakowski, shares the telltale signs of authentic Tiffany & Co. jewelry.
1. Correct Logo & Signature
“There are many variations to the Tiffany & Co. logo depending on the collection,” says Krakowski. For example, pieces attributed to a special designer will feature a unique signature, and the logos can differ based on the era in which a piece was manufactured. “In any case, you expect to see well-done engraving, but you also have to acknowledge fluctuations in their own internal quality control as a brand. Older pieces are notorious for having less-perfect signatures then today’s standards.”
“In addition to the quality of the engraving, I look for the placement of the signature and ensure that it reads ‘Tiffany & Co.’ or ‘T & Co.’” Tiffany & Co. has allowed only four jewelers to sign their work: Jean Schlumberger, Paloma Picasso, Elsa Peretti and Frank Gehry. “Authentic pieces that are part of a designer’s collection will always feature that designer’s signature.”
2. Quality of Craftsmanship
“Sometimes one of the best indicators of whether a piece of jewelry is truly fine is the craftsmanship and level of finishing that has gone into the back or underside of the piece,” notes Krakowski. “On an authentic piece you expect to see everything polished beautifully, links that articulate smoothly, à jour work that is fine and well-tooled, stones that are evenly set and very well-matched, and a nice heavy heft to the metal.”
When it comes to things that suggest a piece is fake, Krakowski points to, “links not being soldered closed and polished, the weight of a piece being too light, an incorrect font used for the signature, and deviations from the typical hallmark location of a piece.”
3. High Quality Materials
“Tiffany & Co. only uses high clarity and high color diamonds that uphold GIA grading standards. All diamonds used in Tiffany & Co. pieces should be evenly set and perfectly matched in color,” Krakowski says.
Similar standards apply to the precious metals used in the house’s jewelry. “Tiffany & Co. will always hallmark their pieces to indicate the metal purity. 18K gold will be stamped with ‘750,’ sterling silver with ‘925’ and platinum with ‘950.’ For Tiffany & Co.’s newer Rubedo collection, which is made with a hybrid metal, pieces will simply be stamped with the word ‘metal.’ Every piece of Tiffany & Co. jewelry we receive at The RealReal is double-verified,” Krakowski explains. “This means that we identify the hallmark and make note of its location while also testing the metal for karat purity with a special set of acids that are designed to identify 14K, 18K, 22K, sterling silver and platinum.”
4. Paperwork & Packaging
While some authentic items may not come with the original paperwork and boxes, if they are included with a piece, Krakowski and her team inspect them to help authenticate the item. “Higher end Tiffany & Co. pieces come in a navy blue box, and some pieces come with a diamond dossier, which is one of the only trusted non-GIA certifications,” she says. Paperwork dates that correspond to the style of certain eras also point to authenticity. For example, “The Paloma Picasso citrine necklace is an iconic example of 1980’s fine jewelry, and the paperwork confirmed that it was purchased in 1986.”
Find more helpful how-tos for authenticating items from other iconic jewelry and fashion houses like Van Cleef & Arpels, Louis Vuitton and Chanel in our authentication series.
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