Vintage jewelry: Monet paintings aren’t the only things being faked.

I recently read a post on a vintage jewelry social media page that was kind of scary.

It seems that people are selling costume jewelry clasps and other “findings” that bear the name of famous designers.

Genuine 1950s Miriam Haskell filigree necklace. The more you know about a designer and their style, the less likely you'll be fooled by fakes. Photo courtesy of Jewelry Boulevard, Etsy

Genuine 1950s Miriam Haskell filigree necklace. The more you know about a designer and their style, the less likely you’ll be fooled by fakes. Photo courtesy of Jewelry Boulevard, Etsy.

Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that.
Honest vintage costume jewelry dealers may need a particular fold-over clasp in order to repair a genuine necklace or bracelet without resorting to a non-original substitution. And the honest dealer will state that the repair has been made using genuine designer findings.

My camphor glass necklace, for example, is missing its bail. But I won’t sell it unless and until I find that exact piece or one that’s close enough that it won’t reduce the considerable value.

(By the way, if you come across the original findings (Esemco 10K) to attach this to its chain, please let me know!)

Antique Edwardian camphor glass necklace

Antique Edwardian camphor glass necklace

But careless or dishonest dealers can use those same pieces to create a “genuine” Haskell, Boucher or Monet.
And several outraged vintage jewelry dealers are reporting that they’ve seen fake Miriam Haskells and Monets being passed off as the genuine article.

So how can you know that you’re buying (or selling) the genuine article?

Research the designer’s marks.
In an earlier article, for example, I wrote about the fact that Georg Jensen and his protégés always signed or marked their jewelry. An unsigned piece is probably not a Jensen.

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 8.26.06 AM

No signature, no Jensen. This is probably a 1940s copy by Coro or Viking.

You need to consult a list of authentic marks in order to evaluate an item you’re thinking of buying or selling.

Study the designer’s style.
The more you see and touch the real thing, the less likely you’ll be fooled by a copy or a fake. The best thing is to get a book about the designer, or examine genuine pieces online and in vintage or antique stores.

Look for inconsistencies.
Once you know the style, materials and dates of the designer, beware of any inconsistencies. This may not indicate a fake, but it should get your antennae up!

If you know the history of the designer and the company, you can spot warning signs. Marcel Boucher, for instance, added a copyright mark in 1955. So if you see an earlier “Boucher” with that mark, the piece is either a sloppy repair or a fake. In addition, the back of the jewelry around the catalog number should be polished in pieces made before the mid-1950s. If it isn’t, it’s a newer piece or not genuine.

The copyright mark won't be on Boucher pieces earlier than 1955.

The copyright mark won’t be on Boucher pieces earlier than 1955.

Even a “better” piece can be a copy. If you know, for instance, that Monet worked only with gold-tone metals, you won’t be fooled by a 10K or 14K “Monet” necklace.

Another warning sign is an offering for a “one-off” or “custom” designer piece.
“Rare” usually just means that the seller couldn’t find any examples (or only one or two) in the marketplace.
But a “unique,” “different” or “one-of-a-kind” Ciner could have been upcycled using a combination of original and new findings. Believe it or not, it may actually be worth a lot of money because of the materials used. And it may be a true work of art.
But it won’t be a genuine Ciner. An honest dealer will state that the piece isn’t entirely original.

Demand provenance in writing.
Sometimes it’s easy for a seller to prove that a piece is genuine – it’s been in the family forever. Get that statement in writing.

Marcel Boucher Buttons and Twisted Ribbon Necklace, 1955-1960

Marcel Boucher Buttons and Twisted Ribbon Necklace, 1955-1960 (In family)

In other cases, the seller may have a receipt from their own purchase. That would be a good thing to have, as well.

And finally, know your seller!
Bracelet clasps break. Necklace bails go missing. That’s part of life – and one reason people get rid of their jewelry.

An expert knows how to make the repair so that the item won’t lose its value. They will search for the exact match – and state that the finding is an “authentic” replacement.

A vintage dealer you trust is almost as important as the vintage items you buy!

If you love learning about antiques as much as I do, follow the blog so you won’t miss the next article.
And enjoy the hunt!

About sarathurston

I'm a marketing communications writer who also loves antiques and collectibles. You can find my shop on Etsy at
This entry was posted in Collectibles, Etsy, Real or Fake?, Vintage Jewelry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Vintage jewelry: Monet paintings aren’t the only things being faked.

  1. Laura says:

    I was curios about the esemco brand in one the old family piecies and your blog was one of the few places that I found information.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Carolyn Ahrns says:

    Hello I have my Grandmother’s 14k ESEMCO set. It is white gold 14k with a pendent, bracelet and ring. This set looks very much like your photo. They all have the same design as yours, with a frosted white stone instead of blue, the small diamond in the center is exactly the same. The pendent has a lovely frilly gold attachment in a Y shape. There is a very delicate link chain with three small links and one long link and the clasp is a round clasp. I’m not a jeweler so I hope you can picture what I am trying to describe. I have a photo of my mom wearing the set. She is 16 or 18 in the picture. She was born in 1932. The bail is attached to the pendent by a solid loop. I would be happy to send you photos if you would like to see it. I have had this set for at least 20 years and just now looked closely enough to see ESEMCO. I googled it and found your blog. I would love to know more about this jewelry. You mentioned you wouldn’t sell the pendent until you found the bail or something close so not to degrade the value. Would you have an idea what my Grandma’s set could be worth? I hope to hear from you and hope I can help with your missing bail.

    Thank you,


  3. Reblogged this on barbsburnttree and commented:
    Great information written by my new friend Sara! See all her posts at “Janvier Road”

  4. Hi Sara,
    I really enjoy your posts….your research shows. I don’t have very much time for research at this time so it is nice to be able to learn from you. Is it ok with you if I continue to reblog your posts?
    You provide really good information and I enjoy passing it on to others…if its ok with you.


  5. COBAYLEY says:

    Great article..well written…well done and really great information…

I'd love to hear your thoughts (and corrections)!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s