PETALING JAYA: Authenticating luxury items like jewellery is a demanding and intricate process. A single product could take days for an expert to determine its value, say jewellers.
Tomei Consolidated Bhd managing director Datuk Ng Yih Pyng said one of the first things to be determined would be whether the item was authentic or fake.
“A trained gemologist can tell you with a simple examination of the product whether it’s real or fake. It’s the process of determining its value that will take much longer.
“A plain item will be relatively simple. An authenticator only needs to check if it is gold, platinum or silver by looking at the finesse and the weight of the item.
“It is the jewellery with rare gems that are trickier to deal with as one needs in-depth knowledge of each rare gem,” Ng said.
For instance, a jeweller would need time to determine the final value of an item mounted with a pigeon’s blood ruby, as compared to a plain gold item, he added.
Pigeon’s blood refers to Burmese rubies, which are considered the most valuable and rarest with their intense blood-red colour and soft fluorescence.
Ng also said a jeweller might have the added task of determining a single piece’s meltdown, cost and market values.
“It is definitely a tedious process and that is why it takes real experts to conduct the job, even with the assistance of technology,” he added.
Poh Kong executive director Ermin Siow Der Ming agreed that determining the value of a gemstone set was a lot more work than that of plain jewellery pieces.
“Gemstones are mounted onto jewellery pieces and because of that, it becomes a very tedious process for authenticators to ascertain the actual carat weight of the gems.
“However, it must be done as the gems’ carat weight is a crucial factor to determine the final value of a jewellery item,” he said.
Jewellers must also process each gem individually to ensure they are genuine and have not undergone any treatment that could negatively affect its value.
“Gold, silver and platinum are the three common base metals used for jewellery, and their purity and weight at the time of authentication will affect the valuation process.
“Then there are the gems used. Their type, carat weight, quality will all contribute to the final value of the item,” Siow said.
He added that labour cost was usually not factored in when evaluating a piece of jewellery, unless it was to be identified as a designer piece and was in mint condition.
Authenticating other luxury items such as handbags was also a tedious and demanding process, according to an American company that authenticates luxury items.
On its website, Authenticate First said there were many factors that determined authenticity, and experts needed to take years to learn the trade.
“Authenticators have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of authentic and non-authentic items. They know what things have changed on a particular item or design, and when.
“Sometimes, telling an authentic from a non-authentic is like solving a puzzle,” it said.
“We must go over multiple aspects of the item, looking for the minute differences, piecing the evidence together to make a determination.”