Dating CHANEL Costume Jewelry
AUTHENTICATING CHANEL JEWELRY
1920s through 1930s: Chanel costume jewelry produced and sold prior to 1939 and before Chanel first closed her boutiques was designed specifically to accompany the various suits, day dresses and evening dresses she sold at that time, and is unsigned. The lack of a signature makes it hard to authenticate, but rarely will you find very early pieces of Chanel costume jewelry available on eBay anyway. Most of it is in the hands of serious collectors.
1940s: There are some costume jewelry pieces, notably enameled brooches, that were originally sold in 1941 with name Chanel stamped on each piece in script. This jewelry is not associated with the house of Chanel but rather was produced by a American company called the Chanel Novelty Company. Chanel sued to have the company change its name, and it shortly thereafter became the Reinad Novelty Company. The jewelry has value in and of itself for a number of reasons, but it shouldn't be mistaken for Chanel costume jewelry. There is no authentic Chanel costume jewelry with the Chanel signature in script.
1950s through 1960s: Gabrielle re-opened her boutique on Rue Cambon in 1954. As previously, much of her costume jewelry was designed and produced to accompany her clothing. Along with the chains she used on the hems of her jackets to weight them properly, necklaces, earrings and brooches (most notably the camelia flower) were included and sold with each outfit. In the 50s and early 60s, many of Chanel's costume jewelry pieces were designed by the young and talented Robert Goossens. Many of the pieces from this time period are marked simply as CHANEL, usually stamped directly on the piece itself.
The same signature, possibly with some minor variations, continued on most if not all pieces until Gabrielle's death in 1971. I've seen, multiple times now, another stamped signature: CHANEL, with 3 stars beneath. I'm not yet certain this signature is from this time period, but strongly suspect so.
Circa mid 70s to mid-80s: Copyright and registration trademarks began to appear on Chanel costume jewelry around the time Alain Wertheimer took control of Chanel in 1974. The signature plate typical of the mid-70s to early 80s includes the signature CHANEL CC MADE IN FRANCE stamped on a round plate or sometimes on the piece itself. The CHANEL is accompanied on either side by copyright and registration trademark.
Beginning 1980 and until 1985, the date on most piece substituted for the phrase MADE IN FRANCE. Variations I've seen on this plate include: an oval rather than a round plate, and copyright mark next to the CC logo as opposed to one side of the word CHANEL.
Circa 1986 through 1992: Karl Lagerfeld was appointed the creative director and head designer for Chanel in 1983. Shortly thereafter, he hired Victoire de Castellane to oversee the designs for Chanel's costume jewelry, where she remained until 1998 . Pieces designed by de Castellane circa 1986 to 1992 are identifiable by their oval signature plate. At the top of the plate is the word CHANEL, accompanied on each side by copyright and trademark. At the bottom of the plate is the signature MADE IN FRANCE. In the middle of the plate is the CC logo with the number 2 on the left side and an additional single-digit number on the right.
The numbers on both sides of the logo identify the season for which the jewelry was produced. 2 CC 3, for example, identifies the piece as produced for Season 23 and 2 CC 5 identifies it as produced for Season 25. Most of these plates are soldered or otherwise attached directly to the piece, with a few pieces (e.g., bracelets) marked by a hanging oval tag with the same signature found on other pieces from this period of time. To the best of my knowledge, the first of these signatures begins with Season 23 and ends with Season 29.
1993 to present: Beginning 1993 the year and season (Spring or Fall) began to appear on either side of the logo in the middle of the plate (e.g., 93 CC P). A "P" signifies a Spring season. and an "A" signifies Fall. Again, most of the plates are soldered or otherwise attached directly to the piece, with a few pieces such as charm-style bracelets marked by a hanging oval tag with the same signature found on other pieces at that time.
Present: The oval plate with CHANEL, the Chanel copyright and trademark, and the year and season accompanying the logo remains the signature to present day with some minor variations. Increasingly, the mark at the bottom of the plate on many contemporary pieces reads MADE IN ITALY rather than MADE IN FRANCE. More of the signatures tend to be stamped or engraved on the pieces themselves, rather than on a plate attached to the piece; I've seen them stamped directly on the lobster clasp of necklaces or bracelets, for example, or on the back of a brooch. Another change for Chanel is its addition of earrings for pierced ears, and rings. Earrings for pierced ears, which are much smaller than the clip earrings previously standard for Chanel, may have a harder-to-find signature because there's very limited space available on the piece. On rings, the signature is also usually very small and, frequently. is lightly engraved or stamped somewhere on the inside or outside of the band. Also recent: a "C" on the right side of the signature to indicate that a given piece was produced for the year's cruise collection.
Keep in mind a CHANEL Piece is an investment, the longer you have it the more value it accumulates. Store your pieces properly they will last decades