People don't always buy the genuine article when trying to obtain a couture look. Some take the inexpensive route with counterfeit and look alike jewelry and accessories. The line separating a counterfeit and a look alike is well defined by the law. Look alikes which copy the design with some minor changes but don't pretend to be the real thing are legal. replica van cleef alhambra earrings Counterfeits with trademark logos intact are not.

 

At Kenneth Jay Lane in South Coast Plaza, look alikes of jewelry and accessories by Chanel, Tiffany and Cartier sell just a few feet away from the genuine article. Unlike counterfeits, these don't pretend to be real.

 

A $65 red leather and gold chain belt, for instance, is a dead ringer for one that sells across the hall at Chanel for about $900. One key difference: the faux belt is missing the Chanel logo.

 

There's also a collection of Chanel style chains with colored stones and faux pearls for $175 to $395 about half the Chanel price.

 

"Chanel has been wonderful for us because customers can come here and pay $65 for an imitation brooch that might cost $450 there," says Monique Morel, manager of Kenneth Jay Lane.

 

She also has bow shaped earrings that mimic a brooch at Tiffany, but instead of diamonds and sapphires they are made of crystals and blue enamel.

 

"When you look closely at them they're definitely not the real thing, but they look beautiful on the ears," Morel says.

 

"The effect is truly the same. Of course, if you have a pair of $14,000 earrings on, you will feel really beautiful."

 

Imitation Tiffany canary diamond rings sell for $660 here, while the real McCoy sells next door for about $600,000. The great pretender, however, is a cubic zirconia set in silver plated base metal, while holders of the Tiffany ring have a rare yellow diamond and platinum setting.

 

Impostors in Brea Mall carries look alikes of Chanel, Cartier, Rolex and others using cubic zirconia and gold plated metals.

 

"We just got in Chanel like necklaces, and we sold two right away. They're chains with leather woven through it," says Marianne Apodaca, store manager. One couple bought their wedding bands at Tiffany, then came to her store for the diamond engagement ring a look alike of a Tiffany 1 carat solitaire that they bought for $122. They'd seen the real ring for $16,000.

 

They were planning to use the money they'd saved for a new car and to tell nobody about the fake diamond.

 

"I told them, 'I never saw you in my whole life,' " Apodaca says.

 

Unlike look alikes, counterfeiters pose a real problem for the legitimate clothing and jewelry companies they copy. They cut into sales and do immeasurable damage to the companies' most valuable asset their reputations.

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"Counterfeiting is robbery," says Simon Critchell, president and chief executive officer of Cartier Inc. "We've been in business 145 years. Our success is based on workmanship and design. We don't want our name associated with cheap and inferior merchandise."

 

How to recognize a fake Cartier watch?

 

"First of all, pick it up. The (fakes are) virtually weightless," Critchell says.

 

Most are made of cheap metal alloys. warehouses). The straps are an immediate give away. They're usually made of cheap leather or plastic.

 

While the fakes sell for $20 or more on the street, their estimated value is $2.50. Genuine Cartier watches range from $900 to $14,000.

 

Chanel is another favorite target of counterfeiters.

 

"They take a crummy product, put CCs on it and pass it off as the real thing," says Arie Kopelman, president and chief executive officer of Chanel Inc., in a telephone interview replica van cleef and arpels clover earrings from Paris. "It doesn't do any good for our image to have inferior products. Many people believe it's real but it's not buyer beware."

 

Some buyers will even bring the fake goods back to Chanel for repairs. One woman tried to return a handbag with the Chanel logo after the leather started to wear and fade.

 

"She was coming on strong in our boutique," Kopelman says. "We asked 'Where did you buy this bag?' She hemmed and hawed and said she got it as a gift. It was a counterfeit.

 

"This kind of thing happens a fair amount. It causes us all kinds of aggravation."

 

Cheap materials are a telltale sign of a faux Chanel.

 

"The quality is not at all what our product is all about," Kopelman says. "Even if they're making a line for line copy of a Chanel suit, no one's going to put in a silk lining or use quality fabrics or sew a chain into the back of the jacket to make it stable."