Chanel has used many different marks since the 1950s including both round and oval cartouche signature plates affixed to the jewelry and hang tags. They also stamped CHANEL directly into pieces from time to time as shown below.
The earliest pieces of Chanel jewelry were unmarked. Pieces from the 1930s, '40s and early '50s rarely come up for sale on the secondary market so take care when purchasing pieces purported to be unsigned Chanel.
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Unsigned Chanel - 1930s through the '60s
The earliest pieces of Chanel costume jewelry were unsigned, but they do have some distinguishing characteristics. Examining the back construction of this piece shows how some Chanel rhinestones were set and how some of the backs on their pieces were finished. Not the most elegant construction on this small piece measuring just 1 3/8" wide, but quality nonetheless. This piece likely dates to the 1950s or '60s and may have been sold on a piece of Chanel clothing.
Limited quantities of Chanel jewelry were marked during the late 1950s and '60s. These are usually marked with a round plate bearing the Chanel name with three stars or sometimes CHANEL stamped directly on the piece. By and large though, Chanel costume jewelry made during this period was not marked and must be identified by the design, components (such as the way Gripoix glass is incorporated) and the construction.
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Chanel Script Mark - 1941
A line of figural jewelry, along with other miscellaneous pieces, was produced with a Chanel script mark in 1941. Although some well-known print-based guides to costume jewelry attribute pieces marked Chanel in script to the House of Chanel, costume jewelry historians have determined that these items were actually made by Chanel Novelty Co., which was a division of Reinad (an American costume jewelry firm located in New York). Although it was not operating at the time due World War II, the House of Chanel house did protest the use of the Chanel name and production of the novelty line using the Chanel script mark ceased.
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Chanel Stamped Mark
This mark was found on a necklace dating from the late 1960s or early 1970s with a very asymmetrical modern look to it. It is stamped directly into the gold plated metal on the back of the piece.
Since this type of mark is similar to that used sparingly in the 1950s, looking at the overall style of the piece helps to determine the date.
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Chanel Round Mark - 1970s
This is one of several similar marks used by the House of Chanel in the 1970s moving into the early 1980s. It shows the copyright and registered symbols above CHANEL in block letters on a round cartouche. Below that is the familiar interlocking CC logo and "Made in France." Marks from this era can be found both with and without the circular outline shown here.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Chanel Round Mark - 1980s
Another variation of the Chanel round signature cartouche, where "Made in France" has been replaced with the copyright symbol and date. This one shows a date of 1983 (coincidentally the year Karl Lagerfeld began to revive the House of Chanel with his fashion genius) leaving no doubt about the vintage of the piece. Most pieces from the early 1980s were marked in this way.
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Chanel Oval Mark - 1980s
Another type of oval Chanel signature cartouche, which can be found both soldered on and used as a hang tag (as shown here) on a variety of pieces. The season number is not included on these tags dating to the 1980s.
Note: Hang tags can be added to contemporary Chanel reproductions and fakes as they have been done with Miriam Haskell costume jewelry, so take care when identifying pieces based solely on the mark. Look at the overall quality and construction in comparison to genuine Chanel pieces when determining authenticity.
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Chanel Oval Mark - 1990s and Later
This mark was first used by Chanel in 1993 denoting the year the piece was made along with the season. The letter "P" signifies a piece from the spring (printemps translates to spring in French) collection, while "A" denotes the fall (automne translates to fall in French) collection for the corresponding year. Some pieces are marked with "C" for the cruise collection, others have a "V" but those are less common than the larger spring and fall collections. Jewelry sold in Chanel boutiques in the 2000s has a very similar mark, taking the guesswork out of dating these pieces.
Some authentic Chanel pieces made c. 2005 are marked Made in Italy (rather than France).
Pamela Y. Wiggins is the author of Warman's Costume Jewelry.