Tuesday, 17 January 2017

I bought a fake!

January is rarely a fun month, and I haven't enjoyed this one much so far. When the going gets tough, the tough get sparkly, so I bought myself a brooch and earring set online as a pick-me-up. As a mood-lifter, £10 is pretty cheap, so what could possibly go wrong?


Fairly soon after it arrived, I started wondering if this set is a copy – and this is no reflection on the seller at all; service was excellent, the set arrived beautifully wrapped in tissue paper inside organza bags, and I believe the seller thought this was genuine vintage. The reason for my suspicion is that the pieces are fairly clumsily shaped, in a way that looks to me like someone made a mould from another set and then went about mass-producing them. The brooch isn't too bad, though the pin at the back doesn't look right, and is attached in a way I've never seen on a genuine vintage brooch.

If you look at the photo below, there's a genuine vintage Coro brooch on the left. See how the hinge of the pin, and the clasp end, are welded directly into the metal? Those components are part of the brooch, just like on the other vintage brooches I own. The new brooch is on the right, and the pin is a complete separate unit that's been attached to the front - and fairly crudely at that.
The earrings are pretty blobby, and they look to me like the original design would have had the 'spray' bits at the front linked by a solid supporting strut at the back, suggesting it was constructed from separate pieces of metal that were then combined to make the design. The mould for the copies got distorted and so on one earring the strut is no longer solid. The plastics are good quality, but different shapes on brooch and earrings: the brooch is flat, the earrings are cabochon.

Again, here's a comparison below. Genuine Coro, an earring from the new set, and an unsigned vintage one. See how the two vintage ones have cleanly flowing lines, so where there are swirls, the swirls are smooth. The top of the one in the middle, though, is clearly very wonky; the lines that should be evenly spaced simply aren't. And while the clip does resemble that of the unsigned one, that one has a little pad inside the clip for comfort, whereas the new one doesn't. Looking at my vintage clip earrings, the clips are placed so the corresponding clipping point on the front of the earring is substantial, something to press onto. On the new ones, the clip meets where the pattern is falling away - not the ideal clipping point.
I did a bit of Googling, as it had never occurred to me that people might be faking no-brand vintage costume jewellery. And it turns out faking does happen, though it seems to be most common in the cases of highly collectable brands and styles, such as Coro and Weiss (especially the Christmas tree brooches), where individual pieces can sell for hundreds of US dollars. Some of the most common signs are textured backs, and large plastic stones where originals would have been glass. I suspect the plastic elements in my set are the real deal, taken from damaged vintage jewellery – apparently this is not uncommon with fakes, where buyers pay attention to the quality of the stones. I did think the combination of diamante at the ends of the sprays and lucite in the centres was unusual!

As I didn't pay much for the set, I don't mind if it's a modern copy. I'm happy to wear repro dresses, after all. I'm more annoyed at being misled than anything else, and I don't think that was the seller's intention. At least I won't worry too much if one of the earrings falls down the loo at work – always a fear with clip-ons.

Caveat emptor, indeed. (And January, you're rubbish.)

22 comments :

  1. I'm sorry January has been pants, here's hoping things get better very soon.
    The set is pretty but I think your suspicions are probably right.

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    1. The more I look at it, the more I'm convinced it's a fake.

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  2. That's a shame that you feel a bit hoodwinked, but as you say, no great amount of money lost, and you can enjoy wearing them without much worry! I'm going to check all my collection now just to check if anything looks dodgy...

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    1. I'm sure they're moulded from originals. I'm going to keep my eyes open to see if I can spot some originals anywhere - that'd be confirmation.

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  3. I've seen cheaper pinbacks on vintage as they get into the 60's and 70's, but I agree with your suspicions-that doesn't look like Coro to me. Even their cheapest stuff was well made.

    You're probably correct that the seller didn't know, and I suppose it is a sensitive matter letting them know. You don't want them to feel as though you're accusing them of something.

    No matter, for the price it is still a pretty set. January is nearly over.

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    1. Oh, the seller didn't say it was Coro, and it has no marks, I was just using a Coro one for comparison. There are plenty of Coro fakes on the market, though.

      I did wonder if it could have been a knock-off made at the time, but the pin is all wrong to me... and I can't help thinking even 60s knockoffs would have been a bit better in shape, as ladies then bought things to last.

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  4. Oh dear how annoying I once bought. Fake bakelitev

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    1. Ah, I'd forgotten about bakelite! There's a fair bit of dodgy bake around, isn't there? Like Coro and Weiss, I guess the collectability drives the fakers, because they can get lots of money for it.

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  5. I've always found January difficult with low mood and gloom that's why we always go away in Feb as a treat for managing to get through it. The jewellry is lovely.

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    1. Going away in February is a great plan! The anniversary of my mother-in-law's death falls in February, so that's another miserable month for us. My birthday's at the end of Feb, though, and marks brighter days.

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  6. I used to work for Past Times and they had exclusive rights to a French Art Deco collection of jewellery moulds from the 1920s. The reproductions they did were gorgeous and I have quite a lot of it, as does my mum. However, I am forever spotting it at vintage and antique fairs where people are selling it alongside genuine stuff. There's no indication anywhere to say they are modern pieces and it drives me round the bend. One of these days I'm going to call someone out on it. Sorry you fell foul to the fakers but at least you don't have to fret if you lose any of it. xx

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    1. Is there any obvious way to tell, such as branding? I can't remember seeing any marks on my own Past Times pieces. It's got to be tricky when stuff was made from antique moulds.

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  7. Same as Goody, I've seen this kind of pin on vintage brooches before, so it doesn't automatically mean it's fake. But I know, once doubt has set in ... They're still great for the price, though. January isn't the best of months for me either, and then I've got my dad's birthday coming up in February, but I am trying to stay positive ... xxx

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    1. ((Big hugs)). I love spring and summer, but that bit between Christmas and the start of spring is horrible.

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  8. Oh that's a shame. I purchased a fake malachite pendant once, that was annoying, but I barely paid anything so what to do but let it be a lesson learnt xxx

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    1. Indeed. I'd be much more miffed if I were a collector spending hundreds.

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  9. Bad luck about the set, but at least you didn't spend a lot of money on it. Last year I was reading posts on some FB pages about the amount of fake Bakelite that's being either sold in ignorance or on purpose with the intention to deceive. That's put me off buying any online now.

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    1. Yeah, I'd completely forgotten about bakelite till Tubby3Pug mentioned it. That's got to be easy to fake, as people can't test the scent or feel in the hand till they've actually got it.

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  10. Sorry to hear your January has been rubbish. I hope it begins to improve for you.

    I though the set you bought was lovely and very unusual. I have lots of brooches I've collected on my travels around the charity shops but I have no idea if any of them are vintage or not. I must examine them all more closely now I've read your post!

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    1. I love finding good brooches in charity shops. I've also got a couple that I rescued and restored; they were battered old things.

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  11. Oh well, at least they're pretty fakes!
    jauary seems to be whizzing by! (Thank Allah!)

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    1. Indeed! January is a bore. I doubt February will be much better.

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