One of the most common questions we get about buying a pre-owned Chanel flap bag is: are Chanel handbags made with real gold hardware?
Before we dive in, it’s important to give a little background about Chanel Classic flap bags. The design of the CC logo on the Classic Flap, as we know it today, was released in the mid-1980s by Karl Lagerfeld. Karl redesigned Coco Chanel’s original CC logo.
Chanel Authenticity Tip
The right C will always overlap the left C at the top and the left C overlaps the right C at the bottom. A bag with a R (Registered Trademark) on the metal CC is definitely a fake! Chanel bags (starting in the mid 1980s) will have a Registered Trademark (R in a circle) on the inside next to the word Chanel.
Are Chanel Bags Made With Real Gold?
The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because vintage Chanel bags were made with real 24k gold hardware. In late 2008 (08/09 Cruise collection), Chanel stopped making hardware with real 24k gold-plated hardware. Chanel bags from 2008 to present are made with gold-toned hardware. The CC lock may be raised/rounded or flat in a variety of finishes like shiny gold, matte gold, shiny silver, aged silver, etc.
Before late 2008, Chanel Classic Flaps with gold-colored hardware (chains, clasps, grommets, and CC turnlocks) were plated in real 24K gold. These Chanel bags (made pre-2008) have hardware that is made with an alloy containing 24k gold. The alloy is coated onto the metal. When the metal wears down due to frequent use, climate and handling, the silver-colored base metal may be exposed.
A Chanel care booklet from the mid-2000’s reads:
“The metal parts of your handbag are gilded with an alloy containing 24-carat gold, which is sometimes sensitive to sea air and the acidity of the skin, and may eventually wear off. Clasps, chains and other metal parts can be re-gilded. Ask your CHANEL boutique for an estimate.”
This is not to say that the value of a Chanel flap bag differs greatly based on bags made from 1986-2008 (24k gold) vs. 2008-present, as all Chanel Classic flap bags retain their value.
How do you know if a Chanel bag has real gold?
One key difference you will easily see between vintage and current Chanel bag productions is the hardware on the vintage models has a deeper golden look to it (due to the 24k gold plating), but there are even easier ways to tell.
The bag will have a serial number that’s earlier than a 12 series (authenticity card and serial sticker will read 12XXXXXX and earlier). If you’re not sure, read more about Chanel serial numbers on Yoogi’s Chanel Authenticity guide.
Look for a small stamp on the CC lock.
It’s standard practice in goldsmithing/jewelry-making to include a hallmark stamping to indicate what kind of gold or metal is used. This stamp on Chanel bags with gold hardware indicate that the hardware is 24k gold.
Before mid-to-late 2008, you can see a small stamp on the top left, top right, or the bottom right of the CC logo turnlock. The location may vary based on year and where the clasp was created. However, some Chanel bags with gold CC turnlocks were not hallmarked at all; for example, if they have a matte gold finish or if they were made in Italy, they may have no stamp. Silver hardware will have no hallmark stamp.
Examples of Chanel 24k Gold Hallmark Stamps on CC Turnlocks
We’ve put together some examples of what those stamps look like and as a way to document the CC markings through from 1985 – 2008. Note, not all stamps from certain years will look the same as these examples. You’ll also see that the color of gold changes from year to year and the location of the hallmark changes too. Do you see any other differences? Let us know in the comments!
Whether you purchase a new Chanel bag or a vintage model, you will not regret your investment. Chanel’s prices continue to climb higher year after year, making it hard to regret buying one! Buy a pre-loved Chanel bag now.