5 Ways To Spot Fake Jewellery
Luxury jewellery is up there with the most sought-after counterfeit products on the market. In fact, estimates made by the Swiss Customs Service suggest that around 30-40 million counterfeit watches are produced each year. If this many fake watches are being made, just think about how many counterfeit rings, gold chains, bracelets and other types of jewellery must be in circulation at any given time.
With this in mind, it’s not as rare as you might think to come across counterfeit jewellery — especially if you don’t know some of the signs to look out for.
In this blog post, we share five expert tips on how to spot fake jewellery.
One of the most obvious signs of fake jewellery is the pricing. If it seems too good to be true, then in the majority of cases, it probably is. As a general rule of thumb, if the piece you’re looking at costs less than £50, it’s almost certainly costume jewellery (i.e. gold-plated) or a counterfeit product.
Before starting your search, it can help to research the general price range for the type of jewellery that you want. This way you’ll be able to get a better sense of how much authentic products should cost. For example, if you’re wanting to buy a heavy gold belcher chain then you’ll find that — again, as a general rule of thumb — anything less than £300 is likely to be counterfeit or costume jewellery.
The UK Hallmarking Act of 1973 makes it illegal to sell or describe any item — over a certain weight limit — as gold, silver, platinum or palladium unless it has been hallmarked. The mandatory hallmark weights are 7.78 grams for silver, 1 gram for gold and palladium, or 0.5 grams for platinum. This means that if you buy a piece of jewellery over this weight and it doesn’t have a hallmark, it’s almost certainly fake.
Jewellery hallmarks generally come with five different individual marks, although some are optional; the assay office mark, the traditional fineness mark, the millesimal fineness mark, the sponsor mark and the date letter mark. You can find out more about each of these in our guide to jewellery hallmarks in the UK.
This one may sound obvious but the weight of a piece is a telltale sign of whether it’s authentic or not. If it feels heavy when you pick it up, then it’s likely to be real gold jewellery. As costume jewellery is generally made of cheaper metals, such as brass or nickel, coated with a thin layer of gold, they tend to weigh a lot less than pure gold.
Another way to determine the type of metal being used is the “magnet test”. All you need to do is put a small magnet on your piece of jewellery; gold and silver are not magnetic, so if it sticks then your piece is costume jewellery or a counterfeit.
A fairly easy way to spot a fake is based on the jeweller’s reputation. If you're shopping for gold jewellery online then it can help to search for reviews of your jeweller before buying anything. Make sure to use third-party sites like Trustpilot, rather than a “Testimonials” page on the jeweller’s site, which can be more biased.
You should also seek out their Assay Assured certificate, as all credible jeweller’s should have this. If you’re shopping at a less reputable place like a street market, eBay or Facebook Marketplace, it’s important to stay on your toes as these are hotspots for counterfeit jewellery.
The fact that you’re still reading this article is a great first step. However, being able to spot fake jewellery with your naked eye can take a lot of research and practice; particularly with rare or specialist items.
For example, Rolex watches are some of the most popular luxury items in the counterfeit jewellery industry. But it is generally near-impossible to tell the difference between top-of-the-range counterfeits and real Rolex watches without specialist knowledge on what to look out for. If you know that you want to buy a specialist item like this, we’d always recommend researching how to spot fake versions of the product.
For more articles like this, why not check out the Hatton Jewellers blog?