A Chanel product is always branded and recognizable amongst many: first by the look, then by the style and of course by the type of material used. When it comes to their jewelry, their style prevails. Having a close look at a Chanel piece of jewelry and you will notice the craftsmanship, the quality of gem setting and finish that allow you to easily authenticate Chanel Jewelry.
By Eleonor Picciotto
Plume de Chanel earrings
1990’s Chanel Long Necklace
CHANEL – A STYLE OF ITS OWN
Chanel Jewelry can be identified with their quality craftsmanship and style, but also with more technical stamping. In launching the jewelry collections such as Sous le Signe du Lion, Camélia, Comète, and Plume it made the lion, camellia flower, star and feather motifs an imprint that became synonymous with Chanel. When trying to authenticate older Chanel, understanding their markings are your best bet for accuracy.
AUTHENTICATE A VINTAGE PIECE OF CHANEL JEWELRY
The earlier pieces made in the 1930s by Gabrielle herself were not signed, as many were meant to be sold with specific articles of clothing. And most of them are costume jewelry pieces. The first and only fine jewelry collection Coco Chanel ever made was in 1933 to be later reproduced in 2016 for a private exhibition named Mademoiselle Privé. In the world of fakes we are living in, doing a thorough analysis of the craftsmanship and design helped by a competent fashion historian or Chanel team member can only be helpful to try to confirm the authenticity of a Chanel piece of jewelry.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Robert Goossens was designing jewelry for Chanel. A lot of his designs had a baroque or Byzantine feel to them, using lots of glass and pearls. Most of his pieces were stamped with a simple CHANEL marking. Sometimes you will see three stars underneath, which indicates that the piece was part of their Couture Collection. After Coco Chanel’s death in 1971, the company went to the Wertheimer family. Alain Wertheimer became interested in copywriting and trademarking and this lead to a new stamp. You’ll see CHANEL stamped with copyright and registrations marks, as well as MADE IN FRANCE. This was usually in a circular frame that also included the CC Logo, but not always.
Karl Lagerfeld took charge of Chanel in the 1980s, leading to another hallmark change. You’ll still see the CHANEL, copyright and trademark stamps, but now also the year of manufacturing. This is very helpful for authentication. Sometimes it will be in a round outline, sometimes a more thin oval shape. The oval shape is often attributed to the later 1980s.
Also during the late 1980s and into 1990, you’ll see two numbers on either side of the double C insignia, which represents the season number. These range from 23-29, the seasons in which Victoire de Catellane was head of jewelry. 1993 marks the official launch of the Chanel Fine Jewelry department introducing core collections and high jewelry pieces presented during the Haute-Couture Parisian weeks.
HOW TO CLEAN AND TAKE GOOD CARE OF A CHANEL PIECE OF JEWELRY
Once identified as an authentic Chanel piece of Jewelry, some may wonder how can it be cleaned without altering or damaging the piece. When it comes to fine or high jewelry pieces often mounted on gold or platinum and set with precious or semi-precious gemstones, a soft brush, like a toothbrush, and warm soapy water will be efficient. Brushing the piece of jewelry in a gentle way makes it easy to get rid of dust or external material such as dried lotion or cream altering the brilliance of the stones and metal. Be sure to dry your item with a soft cloth.
In regards to fabrics, pearls or emeralds, do not use this soapy water. It is highly recommended to take your Vintage Chanel jewelry to an expert at one of the Chanel Fine Jewelry Boutiques. There, they can assist you and recommend to leave the piece with their experts. Like a vintage piece of furnishing it may need some refurbishing.
When storing your Chanel items, keep the diamonds separate from other items as they are extremely hard. Pearls should not be near cosmetic products such as perfumes and sunscreens as they can damage the pieces. Ideally, you should keep them in your bathroom when the pearls can be naturally hydrated by the humidity of a shower or bath. People tend to forget that pearls are natural and organic living creatures that could die! In any case, if you ever need additional information, do not hesitate to email us at The Eye of Jewelry or ask a Chanel staff member if you have the chance, they will be able to provide information on specific pieces.