I am no ebay newbie - I knew what I was looking for and waited until I found a private seller who was selling what was claimed to be a genuine Links Of London classic charm bracelet that had been an unwanted gift and never worn. The seller had less than ten feedback, but all good feeedback and the listing featured several photos. I decided to take a chance on the seller and bought the item.
When it turned up, I instantly knew something was wrong - it had all the packaging - but packaging can be picked up for pence on ebay so is never a reliable sign of a genuine item.
The braclet itself - the classic charm bracelet type, looked far from new. Its surface looked dull and worn - my first suspicion was that the seller had infact sold me a bracelet that had been heavily used - it had that kind of look to it, small surface scraches and imperfections along the links. The interior of the links were blackened and oxidised.
I wrote to the seller immediately with my disappointment. Because I'd bought the bracelet as a gift for someone for the coming weekend I went to my local Links Of London store and bought the real thing.
I took lots of photos of the two items side by side.
On closer inspection, I realised that what I was looking at was actually a very clever fake. This was most evident on the largest oval that works as the bracelets clasp - next to the real thing it was obvious that the metal used for this part was not actually silver but an inferior cheap silver alloy material - its surface is pitted and dull. The logo on the real bracelet was perfect and crisp, on the face it was deeper and blackened - and the surface looked uneven.
On the rear, the hallmarks looked too deep.
Luckily, after sending the seller detailed photographs he agreed to refund my money so I only ended out of pocket for the return postage fee.
I have previously bought myself a legitimate Links Of London sweetie bracelet on ebay from someone selling an unwanted gift but would recommend that before you bid on an item, you email the seller to confirm that they know the item is a genuine LOL product and that if you were to take it to a LOL store to have this confirmed after purchase, that they would be relaxed about that.
Another thing I used to look out for is people including the items original receipt in their listing - this used to give you a bit more piece of mind but have recently seen a few sellers offering to send 'a photocopy' of the receipt - this to me seems slightly dodgy - they could be using a photocopy of one legitimate purchase to shift 100 fakes of that item.
Id also recommend you check the sellers recent sales history and other items for sale - if they seem to have a lot of 'unwanted gift' jewellery I would be suspicious. The part of the item that would be the largest amount of silver - and therefore the part that the fake copy is most likely to be made of a cheaper alloy material is where you will most easily see the imperfections. Always look for this!