Tiffany & Co. Fraud From China

As everyone prepares for the upcoming Holiday Season, one of the most anticipated visits we have is to our local Tiffany and Co.® store to see the latest designs, beautiful displays and experience the special atmosphere that Tiffany and Company has come to mean to the world. This is, after all, the consummate jeweler as far as we are concerned. They set the standard to which virtually all of the world jewelry industry strives to achieve.

Indeed, there are few gifts that create excitement just from seeing the gift box like a gift of jewelry from Tiffany & Co. The trademark blue Tiffany gift box is itself a benchmark for quality and beauty that provokes excitement of a wonderful surprise inside at every gift giving opportunity and event.

Of course, if the Tiffany & Co. item seen at left looks just a bit......wrong. A bit, you know....not really Tiffany & would be right.

Two days ago I received a wonderful email from Tiffany & Co. at our email address, offering amazingly low prices on Tiffany & Co. jewelry items. As seen at right, the item is guaranteed to be a Tiffany & Co jewelry item......well, sort of. I know that you have already figured this one out from the banner at the top of this page.

In truth and in fact, the Chinese dealers are ripping off Tiffany & Co, just like they are with Apple, Gucci and a myriad of other famous brand names, and trying to pass them off as "replicas" in some places, and just out right fraud in others. Below you can see that this Chinese website has actually stolen the Tiffany & Co. trademark box colors and design along with their jewelry designs, and are passing themselves off as Tiffany & Co. dealers, thereby defrauding the real Tiffany & Co. out of what we believe are millions of dollars in sales based on our research seen after the image below.

We did some research on these guys and their website. You can see the WHOIS search at left. You will note that the email contact is to a Tong Li. If that name seems familiar it should be. The guy who claimed to own those bogus Tibet andesine mines was named Tong Li (or Li Tong). We don't know if Tong Li is a name that Chinese gangsters use, sort of like the old American movie mafia guys used to all be named Guido or something. So many this is like calling themselves "wiseguys" or something, we don't know. But the thing speaks for itself whoever this person is. Either way, he is defrauding Tiffany & Co. And we use that word specifically: FRAUD! This is unconscionable, the audacity of the pure fraud against a well established US company. But there is more.

I went first and pulled the HTML source code from Li's website. You can see the results below. His keywords and meta titles, etc....all call his site Tiffany & Co in various forms. Pure rip-off of the legal trademarked name of Tiffany & Co. And these guys are no slouches when it comes to Google SEO. They have all the right meta tags, Google verification, get noticed by the search engines so that anyone who Googles Tiffany & Co. has a very good chance of winding up on this website instead of the real Tiffany & Co.

I next went to the Chinese equivalent of Alexa, the internet information company, only this Chinese company is either an agent of Alexa or else they are ripping Alexa off also. The Chinese are turning out to be extremely....and I mean extremely, adept at ripping off the world trademarks and copyrights. But that is another story. For now, at right you see the results page from the Chinese internet website traffic reporting. These guys at the website are getting tens of thousands of hits in traffic. Unique hits and return hits. And if one reviews their blogs, you will find that they have customers world wide. Customer who are most likely thinking they are buying really cheap but authentic Tiffany & Co. jewelry, but are instead getting cheap Chinese knock offs.

Note: I was going to purchase one of these items to test the piece. But the PAYMENT page of the website wanted credit card information on a page that had no SSL Certificate, no security encryption. Yeah....Right! Like I am going to send my credit card information to a Chinese website that has no SSL Certificate. YIKES! Don't do that.

Yet another website we found, I am not kidding you....actual collections of Tiffany & Co. boxes and gift packaging as seen at left. You can go on here and buy Tiffany & Co. gift packaging of all types.

All of this makes me ask: Where is the business honor in China? If China is going to be the biggest superpower in the world (and some say they already are) is this what the world is to expect to be the future of this industry. Is it survival of the one with the biggest cajones willing to rip people off?

Here is the WHOIS for this website selling Tiffany and Co. packaging. If you want you can take the emails from this and the one above and send these guys your honest thoughts about what they are doing. You might as well, the governments of China and the US are certainly doing nothing about this. I have watched these websites for years. This newsletter was prompted because they sent me yet another bogus email trying to sell me bogus Tiffany & Co two days ago. As far as the "Guido" at right, I seriously doubt that he is an "addidasupplier" as the email claims.

I never said, " I Told You So!"....until now.

Over the four years I was involved with the Chinese-created Tibet andesine fraud, I learned a great deal about how the Chinese are perpetrating fraud on the world gemstone industry. I could not talk about it then, I can now. And while I have never called out those who were so damned venomous to us regarding our original report that Mexican feldspar was being taken to China and diffused, then sold through the television shopping channels, I am now going to issue my "I Told You So!". And this time someone better listen.

The Chinese are wrecking the world gemstone industry. They make the very worst of what we see here in the US or Thailand pale by comparison. And the US jewelry industry is helping them.

The Chinese have learned to hire famous US gemologists and take them to Hong Kong to be the front men to add credibility to their operations, and to help hide the fraudulent practices being perpetrated. Tibet andesine was a classic case. You have just seen another fraud being done to Tiffany & Co. And we could bring up Gucci and many others including Rolex and Breitling watches but I believe the point is made.

Worst still, these Chinese companies can easily visit the US, open a small office and get membership in organizations like the American Gem Trade Association, allowing them access to the major trade shows and providing them credibility. Case in point is AGTA member Andegem, who actual court documents show is THE supplier of the fraudulent Tibet andesine that was sold to the US market.

The main issue is that we as an industry are, for the most part, sitting back and deciding that since it is not happening to us directly, we should not get involved. Well folks, it is happening to you. If you are having tea in Hatton Garden this affects you. If you are having coffee in Nigeria, this affects you. If you are at work on 47th Street in New York, this affects you. If you are on lunch break at a Zales Jewelers in Racine, Wisconsin, this affects you. It affects all of us. This is not a Tiffany & Co problem, it is a world gemstone industry problem.

The most foreboding issue that I have heard in the past year is that the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) has moved it headquarters to Hong Kong. Talk about moving the hen house inside the fox's den! Choi Duc! The loss of Barbara Wheat at the helm of the ICA and moving the association to Hong Kong is seriously like putting Andegem's Feng Chen in charge of promotions of the Oregon Sunstone mines.

I don't know what will happen with all of this. The industry is either going to get off our duffs and take action, as a unified effort, or watch consumer confidence continue to swirl down the bowl. The big question: Are we going to allow some of these momsers to ruin our industry? If we consider how many consumers were damaged by the Tibet andesine fraud and left the industry forever, this Chinese problem portends to be the straw that broke the camel's back with the colored gemstone industry.

Maybe the Chinese consumers don't care about these guys ripping off world recognized companies with legal trademarks. Maybe the Chinese government does not care that they are harboring fraud on a world scale in their internet websites. and I can start selling Tiffany & Co. on the internet and make our own million.

Or maybe....we need to unify our efforts and put a stop to this.

The AGTA needs to throw Andegem out of AGTA membership. And that needs to start with AGTA Board Member Bill Larson of Pala International since he is the one who started all of this. He needs to be the one to end it. Its time for the AGTA to stop harboring this company who caused such horrendous damage to the US consumers. That would be a good start and send a message to other Chinese dealers that the industry is not going to allow this kind of behavior.

But regardless of what we as an industry do, we are going to have to deal with this now, or later. They may not be coming for your market share now, but eventually they will. The question will be: Will there by anyone left to speak for you when that day comes?

Now is the time for the Chinese and US governments to take action, and for the world jewelry industry and organizations to take action.

If not for Tiffany & Company today, do it for yourself for the future..