On eBay, a seller is NOT allowed to use certain words to draw customers. For example, if I have an estate find “David Yurman” looking necklace to sell and I’m not totally sure if it’s authentic David Yurman, I’m not allowed to use the words “David Yurman” or “David Yurman style” or “David Yurman inspired” anywhere in the auction title or text of the eBay ad. eBay will end and remove my ad as soon as they are aware of this type of text. If I violate this rule repeatedly, my eBay account can be suspended.
eBay will tell sellers that, prior to listing a designer item, they must be able to authenticate the item’s provenance to eBay’s fairly strict standard. This policy is supposedly meant to prevent trademark infringement by unethical sellers. I support these rules if this is the true reason for their existence.
Today I searched for David Yurman jewelry on eBay and found at the bottom of the page, in the Sponsored Links section, four different ads for David Yurman inspired (meaning fake) jewelry from paid advertisers. Same thing for Tiffany. eBay is allowing companies who sell fakes to advertise on their pages, right below eBay sellers who have to abide by stricter rules.
I’m sure that eBay’s argument would be that nobody is violating eBay’s trademark infringement rules if these goods are sold on sites that are merely linked to eBay.
I have a real problem with this. Let’s hold all vendors who sell or advertise on eBay to the same standard.
A few months ago, I purchased a group of jewelry. In the lot was a large silver cuff bracelet with raised daisies on the front. Lo & behold, the bracelet was marked “Tiffany & Co”. After some research, I found that this Daisy cuff design is part of the Nature Series. I did not know if the bracelet was authentic or not, so I took it to my local Tiffany store for their opinion. My bracelet turned out to be a fake but it took four Tiffany employees inspecting and discussing the bracelet to decide that the bracelet is fake. That’s how good the counterfeit Tiffany jewelry producers have become. They have the details of the jewelry down to the finest degree. According to the Tiffany salespeople, much of the Tiffany jewelry being re-sold or sold on the Internet is fake.
eBay is trying to crack down on sellers who are offering fake Tiffany but it’s hard to catch everything. Key word spamming (using word like Tiffany or Tiffany inspired) is against eBay policy and is a blatant disregard for the rules. Today, though, I ran across a seller who is selling Tiffany replicas without calling them so but the items are photographed on a Tiffany blue background. Very misleading, in my opinion.
I obtained another cuff bracelet recently. This one is Mexican silver and is a few years old. It’s clearly marked “Mexico”. But it’s a dead ringer for Elsa Peretti’s sterling bone cuff on Tiffany’s web site.
I used to think that having a Tiffany pouch or box was good enough authentication that an item is the real thing. But these boxes and bags are being copied and sold too. The only way I’d purchase a pre-owned Tiffany piece is to see a sales receipt from the original sale.