It is usually rewarding meeting with clients to discuss acquiring estate jewelry. We hear often that others had offered much less and they were more than happy to accept our offer. We believe it possible to offer a fair price to the estate, while still being able to offer estate, vintage, and antique pieces at prices that are most often well below similar pieces offered through "brick and mortar" venues.
But to the point of this post: Counterfeits and Outright Fakes. We recently visited with a family who had asked that we look at an estate ring and provide a valuation. They produced the item, a purported Platinum and Diamond Ring by Cartier. This was quickly shaping-up to be one of those meetings with a client that would not have a happy ending. It was immediately obvious, really without the need for detailed examination, that the ring was a counterfeit.
We've posted the documents and photo of the ring here as an example of what you might find when navigating the off-venue (buying from Craigslist, Marketplace, etc.) secondary market. To many, the envelope, certificate case, and certificate itself have the look and feel of the legitimate article - down to the embossed "Double C" Cartier Maker's Mark. But the ring itself was absent a metal purity mark, the Cartier name or Trademark, and the Cartier registration/product identification number. We shared our suspicions, much to the dismay of the client who apparently had invested heavily for the ring. We offered to test the ring to be absolutely certain. We were able to test using two industry-grade instruments measuring thermal conductivity, and determine the refractive index of the gemstone. We were also able to electronically and using the industry-standard acid test to determine metal purity. Plus we conducted a detail visual examination of the ring. At the end of testing we found that the ring had no precious metal content at all and that the stones in the ring were all glass. A terrible outcome for the client.
We take the time to post this just to advise extreme caution on the "gray" market. This set of credentials and this ring were obviously counterfeit to the trained eye - there are many other counterfeits on the market that do have metal purity inscribed, and the Cartier trademark, and the registration number. Thieves and charlatans are becoming increasingly adept at offering products that will tempt you to be separated from your money. Be careful, and we advise to NEVER conclude a gray market jewelry transaction without first having the item examined by a qualified jewelry.
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