With the growing popularity of Pandora and other european style charm bracelet companies like Troll and Chamilia in recent years, there has also been been a steady rise in the number of counterfeit and imitation pieces that try to copy their distinct and beautiful style. It’s especially difficult given that for a lot of us collectors, buying online is the only way to get our hands on some of the rarer pieces that were either retired before we got into Pandora or were not available in our country. In this post I’ll write about some tips and basic information on how to spot a fake Pandora charm.
Does it have the right Pandora markings?
All Pandora products are engraved with several distinct markings that can be used to distinguish them from imitators or other brands.
The ALE marking
The first and most notable marking is the three letter marking “ALE”. This marking comes from Per Enevoldsen, the original founder of the Pandora jewelry company, and are the initials of his father Algot Enevoldsen. All Pandora charms and and accessories will have this ALE hallmark engraved on the piece, usually close to where the sterling silver or gold mark is. If the piece does not have this mark, then for sure it is not a genuine Pandora piece.
This used to be an easy identifier of a counterfeit, but the imitators out there are getting better at copying the Pandora pieces and will often include the ALE mark now so it’s not a guaranteed indicator.
Crown over the O
This marking is only on the barrel clasps – another good indication that the bracelet is authentic. However, older Pandora bracelets/necklaces do not have the crown over the O (my two-tone necklace does not have the crown) because they did not come with the crown before 2008. This is usually because the store had older inventory, so no need to worry if that’s the only oddity.
The Sterling 925 and Gold 585 markings
These two numbers, the 925 for sterling silver and 585 of 14k gold, is an international standard and required markings for jewelry pieces made from these two materials. While it sounds nice to have something made from pure silver or gold, these precious metals are actually very soft and benefit greatly from having other metals mixed in with them to form an alloy. Sterling silver must contain at least 92.5% silver, so hence the 925 marking that’s seen on all Pandora sterling silver pieces. The same goes for 14 karat gold, which must contain at least 58.5% gold. Pandora gold pieces are engraved with the number 585, again usually near where the ALE marking is placed.
In addition to the 925 mark on Pandora silver jewelry, beginning in June 2011 Pandora has added an “S” in addition to 925, a change in the international standard to identify silver jewelry. So don’t worry if some of the older charms have no “S” and only the traditional 925.
As for two-tone (duotone) charms and jewelry, Pandora will only stamp it with the S 925 or 925 mark since all the two-tone charms are still mainly silver with gold accents.
Like the ALE trademark of the Pandora line, the lack of a 925 or 585 numerical marking on a piece is a surefire sign that it’s a fake piece. Counterfeiters are getting wiser, however, and will often include these marks on the higher end imitation pieces even if the charm or jewelry piece is not actually made from that material.