How do you know if you are purchasing genuine Pandora charms and bracelets?
All silver and Two Tone (gold and silver) Pandora charms are stamped with 925 (or S925 for newer charms made after 2011) to prove they contain 92.5% pure silver. Gold Pandora charms are stamped with 585 (or G585 for charms made after 2011) to prove they contain 58.5% pure gold. Even though the Two Tone charms contain a small amount of gold they are only stamped with the silver 925 or S925. All Pandora charms are also stamped with ALE that stands for Algot Enevolsen who is the father of Pandora's founder Per Enevolsen. These hallmarks are tiny but they can be seen because they are dark in colour, clear, crisp and intricate. Unfortunately fake charms often have these hallmarks too but any hallmark that isn't very clear, is uneven, is very shiny (and not dark), looks engraved rather than stamped or is in a different position on the charm, is a sign that the charm is a fake. However the very early Pandora charms have hallmarks that aren't quite as clear as the later versions. In addition, the hallmarks are tiny on some "Openwork" charms and are located just inside the rim so they are very difficult to see without a magnifying glass. However you can use your mobile phone camera to magnify and check for the hallmarks.
Fake or imitation charms are usually lighter in weight because they are not made of real silver or gold. Fake charms may also not have screw or thread lines inside so you can't screw them onto a "Moments" Pandora bracelet. However more fake charms are being produced with thread lines so if it is difficult to screw the charm onto a genuine Pandora bracelet, it could be fake. Another definite sign of a fake is if a charm with thread or screw lines inside simply slides onto the bracelet without needing to be screwed on. Genuine Pandora charms screw on and off a Pandora "Moments" bracelet easily and smoothly. The only genuine Pandora charms that don't have internal thread lines are the "Openwork" charms and "Spacers".
Unfortunately if a genuine Pandora charm is worn for long enough the hallmarks can wear off but if you look for other signs like screw or thread lines, how it screws onto the bracelet, the weight and the quality of the craftsmanship, you can still identify an authentic charm.
Another feature of genuine Pandora charms is that many are "oxidised" or darker inside. If this part of the charm is really shiny, the charm could be fake. However there are some genuine Pandora charms that are not dark inside so you still need to look for the other signs of authenticity.
Initially Pandora bracelets didn't have the tiny crown above the "O" in "Pandora" that is stamped on the outside of the clasp but since 2008 all bracelets have this tiny crown. If it is an authentic Pandora bracelet the hallmarks S925 for Sterling silver (or G585 for gold) and ALE will be clearly stamped inside the clasp. The inside of the clasp will also be oxidised and dark (except for new gold clasps).
Pandora retire or discontinue charms frequently so if you see a charm that isn't in the current catalogue, it could still be a genuine Pandora charm. All Pandora charms have an individual code number. You can search the internet for a particular Pandora charm and find the code number or a photo of the genuine charm on the Pandora website (Pandora keeps the codes and photos of all retired charms). You can use to the photo to compare with the charm that you have. If it is fake charm, there are always differences in quality and features.
You need to be particularly careful when purchasing full Pandora bracelets on ebay because not all of the charms on the bracelet may be genuine Pandora. It is therefore important to research the charms in the photos of the bracelet or ask the seller questions so you know exactly what you are purchasing.
Charms that were retired years ago being sold as brand new are very likely to be fake, especially if a seller is selling more than one of the same charm.
The other more obvious sign is price. Pandora charms are virtually never on sale and if the price is low or seems too good to be true, it is highly likely to be fake.
Unfortunately in recent years, the fake charms have become much more similar to genuine ones and are therefore more difficult to detect. If you have purchased a Pandora charm on ebay that you suspect is a fake, you could take it to a Pandora store for verification.
I hope this helps you identify authentic or genuine Pandora because there are many fake, copied and cheap versions out there with fake Pandora hallmarks being sold as genuine Pandora.