Is It Really Vintage Valentino?
I'm constantly trolling for vintage jewelry online and I have seen many dealers, including many established high end dealers, advertising Valentino jewelry that is not authentic. In fact, when you search websites like Etsy and Ebay, only a small percentage of the listings are authentic Valentino. When I first started as a dealer I thought maybe these dealers knew something I didn't and that surely so many people could not be wrong. Now I know better and will share with you my knowledge on how to spot authentic Valentino jewelry versus pieces often mistaken as Valentino.
Lets start with how to spot an inauthentic piece. I'm not going to use the word fake because these pieces are not imitations of Valentino pieces. These pieces marked with the supposed "Valentino"
"Vc" signature, were actually produced by the company Les Bernard during the 1980s. Valentino does have a V signature, which I will show you later, but it is not this one (see below).
So why aren't these pieces of jewelry marked Les Bernard? For whatever reason, some Les Bernard pieces either lose their name plates or in the case of earrings, were not marked on the clips. In fact, with a lot of Les Bernard necklaces it is easier to find unsigned pieces than signed. For items marked only with the Vc signature, with some research and a bit of luck, you can find identical pieces signed Les Bernard along with the Vc signature. Below you can see the same Vc signature (on the bottom, shown here sideways) along with the Les Bernard signature on a pair of earrings:
How can so many people make this kind of mistake? Les Bernard makes some really high quality jewelry, so I can understand thinking that unsigned pieces were produced by Valentino. Some of the nicer Les Bernard necklaces, like the one below, can sell for several hundred dollars on Ebay, or even more at a high end store or website. That being said, some dealers are asking more than a thousand dollars for pieces by Les Bernard that they are claiming to be Valentino! They are great pieces of jewelry but just not worth that kind of money.
I have even seen some dealers go so far as to claim that Les Bernard made pieces for Valentino. However, I have found absolutely no evidence of a collaboration between Les Bernard and Valentino. If there was a collaboration, I would have expected that the Vc symbol be more prominent than the Les Bernard mark, since Valentino is by far the more famous company of the two. I also could not find the mark registered by Valentino. I am not sure what the Vc is supposed to mean, but I strongly believe that it is some sort of manufacturing mark.
So how is an authentic Valentino piece signed? Below you can see two legitimate signatures. Illusion Jewels also mentions an early Valentino signature first used in October of 1970 made from 3 triangles, but I have never seen that particular mark and could not find any examples, so it must be fairly rare.
Valentino also produced some unsigned pieces, but I would approach buying an unsigned piece with caution. If you cannot find information to corroborate what the seller is telling you, consider what you would be willing to pay for the piece if it turns out not to be authentic.
Below is an example of an authentic Valentino piece. While the outside is unsigned, the perfume vial inside is signed Valentino and is dated 1986. I have sometimes seen this necklace being sold without its perfume vial.
Below I have included a number of pictures of authentic signed Valentino pieces. I hope that this blog entry has been informative and helpful. Please message me with any questions or comments. Thanks!
****Update: I finally found a picture of the 3 V Valentino signature: