So you decided to splurge and buy a fabulous pair of Cartier earrings, or that Birkin you want to marry. But how can you be sure it’s real? There are several things you can do. And one thing you should not do.
First, always purchase items from a reputable dealer. If you’re on ebay (or if the dealer has an ebay store, even if you’re purchasing it from him or her on another site), look at the feedback percentage. It should be well above 90%. Even more important, check out what kinds of items that feedback is based on. For example, if you’re buying a $12,000 necklace, but their recent sales are all $25 t-shirts, this is not a good sign. Click on the seller’s name, then on their positive criticism to see the value of the items they’ve sold. Art Faramarzi, owner of Matter LA (MatterLA.com) says that “Getting consistently great feedback on high-value items over a long period of time is really challenging, and once you have it, you're very protective of it. You would never do anything to jeopardize your reputation.”
Buying from a reputable dealer pretty much guarantees that the item is authentic, but if you still have concerns, you can take it to a dealer to be cleaned or serviced. Here comes the thing you must not do. Don’t tell them you purchased it online. Tiffany wants you to buy directly from them at full retail price. If you tell them that you bought something online, they have an incentive to say it’s not real. (And maybe you should return it and buy the same item directly from them at three times the price?) So what should you say? Just say that the item was a gift (it was… to yourself!) and you want to get it cleaned or serviced. This may cost around $100, but then you’ll have absolute peace of mind, and a receipt from the official store. Again, this is not really necessary, but if you are nervous, you can do this to be absolutely certain.
Okay, one more little trick. Dealers tend to have a return window. For example, you can return a piece of jewelry for any reason for twelve days after it arrives to you. Before you buy, you can ask the dealer if they would extend the window by a few days while you take it to an authorized showroom to have it cleaned and authenticated. If the dealer agrees to this, he or she isn’t concerned that you are authenticating the item, which is a good sign. If the dealer says no, then that’s a red flag. What are they afraid of? (You may not even need to actually have it authenticated at that point).
Buying designer jewelry and handbags online is a great way to “maximize the luxury in your life”, as long as you do it from a reputable dealer. With a little research and common sense, you can feel confident that (to quote a Seinfeld episode), “They’re real, and they’re spectacular”.