When Gabrielle Chanel founded the brand in 1910 her focus was on garments, but from the start, she was also a great lover of jewellery and gems, real and faux. There is rarely a picture of “Coco” Chanel from these early days without an exuberance of jewellery around her neck and on her wrists. As the brand grew so did her offering of fashion jewellery which she brought in to complement the fine jewellery she was already designing (many as collaborations). Often, the fine and the faux would be worn together – almost unheard of at the time – and Chanel began growing a reputation for “fine fashion jewellery” that mimicked the fine but was much more affordable and appropriate for everyday wear, complementing her fashion. The radical jewellery produced from around 1914 until 1939 is unmarked and requires expert authentication.
But for the period following, and in the order of the date they were produced, here is our guide to authenticating Chanel fashion jewellery.
Small amounts of fashion jewellery were created up until the outbreak of the Second World War when Chanel closed shop, but in 1954 the brand opened up again at the famous 31 rue Cambon, and Chanel jewellery came into its own.
Robert Goossens – a name linked to the brand to this day – was brought in to create jewellery using both precious and semi-precious materials. Some of these items are marked, some not, but they are all extremely collectable.
From the 1970s, and after the death of the brand’s founder at the age of 81, Chanel jewellery began to be marked much more consistently. A simple CHANEL stamp is often seen on jewellery from this period. These items are often mistaken for fakes when they are, in fact, real.
In 1983, with the arrival of Karl Lagerfeld as chief designer, copyright marks were brought in, and these are still present to this day.
Lagerfeld employed the magnificent Victoire de Castellane in the mid-1980s to oversee the house’s costume jewellery designs, and her collections are some of the most sought after in the world, commanding the highest prices. These collections are exclusively marked with the collection number and not the date: eg., 2 - 5. This is often mistaken for the year, but the style of this marking is very distinct and is easy to spot when you know the signs.
Other 1980s items just have CHANEL with the copyright marks, which you will see often.
Some special pieces from the 1980s also have the exact year printed on, which is highly exclusive.
From the early 1990s, the markings become much more consistent and show the year, eg., 94, and which collection the item comes from: C – Cruise, P – Spring, A – Autumn.
Into the 2000s and the markings start to change. The format remains the same, but the details are added by laser.
The most important thing to remember here is that all of these markings can be faked. It’s worth familiarising yourself with the original marks, designs, materials and weight. Look out for quality of manufacture and finish. Authentication requires detective work: look at all the unique identifiers on that item and collate the evidence to decide if it is real.
The more contemporary jewellery from the 2000s has been widely faked and some scammers will even copy the old vintage marks. To ensure that the item you are buying is real, put your trust in an expert and only buy from legitimate platforms, such as Omnēque, where every item is hand selected and checked prior to being offered for sale.
If you are in any doubt, contact our concierge service who can help and advise you.