Counterfeiters are always looking for ways to make a quick buck, and consumers looking for a good deal on popular brand-name products like Rolex, Gucci and Pandora are often victimized by unscrupulous criminals.
It is important to remember that just because something looks like Pandora and just because someone tells you that they sell authentic Pandora product, that does not make it so. Please be careful where you shop.
Here are a few tips that you, as a smart consumer, can take to help make good buying decisions.
When shopping online there are a few clues you can look for to verify that the company selling the items is legitimate. Is there a physical address associated with the store?
Overseas knock-offs will not want to let you know they are based in a foreign country, so look for a US based address. Generally speaking, only US based sites are certified by Pandora to sell in the US. Make a note of the zip code and then go to the Pandora corporate website, www.pandora.net, and use the dealer locator function to verify the existence of the authorized retailer.
Is there a phone number listed? If so, can you call it and speak to someone who works at the site in question? A reputable site will have a customer service department that is just as willing to help you over the phone as they are online.
Purchasing Pandora off of auction sites like eBay is a tricky proposition at best. Many retailers advertise on these sites and they can be a good source for finding discontinued and/or second-hand items. However, we know of no active, authorized Pandora retailers that sell Pandora product through auction sites.
What that means is, if you see Pandora on eBay, it could be second-hand product, it could be from an unauthorized retailer, it could be fake or it could be real. You can use a few of the tricks listed on this page to verify the piece, but as a general rule of thumb it is just like your Dad always said, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!".
Perhaps the most important, step you can take is to visit the official Pandora website at: www.pandora.net. There you will find the complete collection of charms, bracelets, and other matching jewelry. Find the item you are interested in on their site, and once you've located it, make a note of the item number and the price.
Take a close look at the details of the piece so you know what it is supposed to look like. Go back to the website that is selling the Pandora and match those pieces of information up.
If the price is less than what Pandora is listing, the person selling it is probably not an authorized Pandora retailer. You may think that you've found a bargain, but we do not know of any active authorized Pandora retailers who are currently discounting (other than the 'last chance' offers authorized by Pandora). Yes, it could be a great deal but more likely, it is a counterfeit and your money will have been wasted on something less than what you were expecting.
If the number does not match, or the look is different, it is likely that the piece is not real Pandora, but rather an item designed to mimic the look of a true Pandora item.
Some sites selling fraudulent Pandora have started to picture their fake product in front of ACTUAL Pandora packing and marketing materials. Don't be persuaded by 'official' bags and boxes.
For a time, a good way to verify that any Pandora item was authentic was to check for the 'ALE S925' hallmark that is stamped on many pieces. Unfortunately, Pandora has not used the hallmark consistently and it is also a very easy thing for counterfeiters to incorporate into their fakes. The hallmark is no longer a good indicator of authenticity. In the Spring of 2011 Pandora has announced that new charms will bear the hallmark "S925", which is the standard Sterling Silver mark in some countries. Older pieces will show the hallmark as "ALE 925".