Real or Fake Cartier?

I recently served a client who purchased a Cartier Love bracelet on Ebay. The bracelet was a gift to herself for achieving a major life goal. She paid nearly half of the retail price had she bought directly from Cartier. As weeks passed after the purchase, she had a gnawing feeling that her bracelet might not be authentic. So, she started searching online “authenticating a Cartier Love bracelet”. Information on the Internet is vast and sometimes misleading, leaving her still questioning “is it real?”. She sought the opinion of an online entity that claims to authenticate based on photos sent to them. She submitted more than 50 photos, plenty enough to see all the details. The online authenticator came back with the opinion that the bracelet was, in fact, a fake. Now truly upset about the situation, she sought a second opinion from a well-known luxury retail jeweler. Although the jeweler carries Cartier watches, they weren’t familiar with Cartier’s jewelry line and referred her to me. She was becoming more frustrated with not knowing for certain that her bracelet was real…or fake. When we met, my client brought her bracelet with the classic red box, accompanying certificate of authenticity and screwdriver that allows the wearer to affix or remove the bracelet. A number of Cartier Love bracelets have crossed my desk for appraisal, ranging from $6,300 to over $50k. At first inspection, it appeared to be genuine. However, there are some really good fakes on the market today. Due diligence is critical. I immediately looked at the trademark and other stamps inside the bracelet. The Cartier trademark, size mark and serial number were present on one half of the bangle. On the other half, the serial number was repeated. Were the stamps sharp and precise? Were they inline with the bracelet itself? Did the size mark align with the actual circumference of the bracelet? Did the serial number match the certificate of authenticity? Further inspection included weighing and measuring the bracelet, checking the mechanics of the screw type closures, examining the sharpness of the engraved love symbols and evaluating the general finish of the bracelet. Also, the shape of the screwdriver, the certificate of authenticity and the box were examined. Finally, I took some closeup photos of the bracelet, screwdriver and certificate. Sharing the photos with my colleagues is another step toward authentication. I consulted with a jewelry buyer who deals with luxury items, an auction house who regularly consigns similar bracelets, and a reseller of luxury goods. Having a second (third and fourth, as many as it takes) set of eyes and expert opinion is important. Consensus: The Cartier Love bracelet was, in fact, genuine. I completed the appraisal process and delivered her insurance replacement appraisal. Upon hearing the good news, I could hear an audible sigh of relief from my client. She now can wear her bracelet in confidence. This particular ending is not necessarily the rule. Luxury goods are constantly replicated. It’s important to purchase from a trusted source, whether it be the boutique under the luxury brand’s name or a reseller who guarantees authenticity of the second-hand goods they carry. Tracey Kahle is a Certified Appraiser of Personal Property and GIA Graduate Gemologist, offering by-appointment jewelry appraisal services. She can be reached at 913-912-9122 or tracey@kahleappraisals.com.