In 1896 in Paris France Salomon Arpels and his son-in-law Alfred Van Cleef founded the trailblazing brand in fine jewelry. Van Cleef & Arpels baubles have long been coveted by royals, celebrities and other members of high society. The brand even patented the “Mystery Setting”, which is a proprietary technique that allows the prongs of a jewelry piece to be nearly invisible. VCA's unique offerings make many of their pieces in a league of their own.
That being said creating such beautiful items attracts the attentions of copycats and counterfeiters. Though some do make a fairly convincing imitation, there are usually different tells that one can look for to identify a fake. We will try to outline some of them as we have been writing a book for about 12 years on counterfeit jewelry such as VCA, Cartier, Winston etc. One thing to note is these tells are based on our experience and opinion and are not to be taken as advice. We recommend sending the items to Van Cleef and Arpels for authentication for more guaranteed results however this is a paid service (the cost is around $2000 we were told but cannot guarantee the accuracy)
Our methods are meant as a guide, and not a foolproof security measure, they will definitely help you separate a genuine piece from a counterfeit VCA piece however they are not perfect. Some counterfeits can be easier to spot than others, so thorough inspection and caution are highly advised.
Trademarks, Hallmarks, Serials, Styles, Local
There are three main things that become important in identifying a genuine versus counterfeit vca piece.
*Always look at the entire piece. The quality of build and quality of stones. VCA pieces are coveted because of their quality.
If you've found a Van Cleef & Arpels piece that's being sold for an uncharacteristically low price its likely because it isn't real. There are price differences from store to store and online shop to online shop, but when comparing prices, they are mostly very close in price. If a price is much lower its likely not correct. The price tag is high for a reason, VCA makes quality. Quality, design, reputation, and skill are all reflected in the cost of each piece.
Van Cleef & Arpels is crafted by hand with high quality materials and techniques. There is a great amount of time and labor that goes into each piece, you will understand why a Van Cleef & Arpels is coveted. Each piece should be outstanding. So if anything about the piece is of doubt its best to pass. There should be no gap between stones, all stones should be cut to perfection. Diamonds with easily noticeable inclusions are not VCA pieces. Serial numbers, hallmarks and trademarks should be smooth and legible, very very rarely crooked or sloppy.
Consider the Source
Certain preowned websites and even local jewelers may need extra caution and attention. Fraudulent sellers love websites and they make it easy for them to sell, with false information, photoshopped or stolen photos, etc. Many times your item arrives and is not what you ordered, is clearly a fake, or worse yet, you shell out money for authentication only to be told it's not an authentic piece later on. ALWAYS shop with a reputable, honest seller, with EXPERT KNOWLEDGE, also with an excellent record. Buying from a trusted jeweler very much increases the chance of you securing an authentic piece of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry. NOTE: a local jeweler may not have the experience with buying or selling a VCA piece. They may be an expert of their craft however doing business with a company that has experience with buying and selling VCA daily may be a better direction to consider. We constantly review both genuine and counterfeit pieces. In fact we have been tracking counterfeiters progress for approximately 12 years documenting signatures and tells.
Note: These notes are just our opinions and experience and in no way are any advice in buying or selling piece.
We are serious buyers and sellers of all things Van Cleef and Arpels. Our experience is vast from Alhambra collection pieces, to custom one of a kind pieces, and even watches. Should you have a piece to sell we are serious buyers and have collectors all over the world who are personal friends and clients of ours this helps to make sure you are getting top dollar for your pieces. If you are looking for an authentic VCA piece we are happy to help.