How counterfeit jewelry coming into Florida has a negative impact on local jewelers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of jewelry and watches that look real.

But U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they are all fake.

A local jeweler said counterfeit items coming into Florida have a negative ripple effect on legitimate jewelry stores everywhere.

“It hurts everyone that sells a legitimate product when they’re competing against fakes,” said Michael Richards, Vice President of Underwood’s Jewelry Store.

US Customs and Border Protection said there has been a spike in fake jewelry coming into Florida and other parts of the country.

Local jewelers say they are so fed up with the number of counterfeit items entering the US because those counterfeits devalue the brands they sell.

Counterfeit watches and jewelry were made to look like expensive brand named items made by Rolex, Cartier, Chanel and Tiffany. But according to the US Customs and Border Protection, they were produced in mass quantities outside the US and then flown here to be sold either online or at some store pretending to carry expensive name-brand jewelry and watches.

“Fakes are always going to be less expensive and there’s a reason why,” Richards said.

Richards is the Vice President of Underwood’s Jewelry Store, a Jacksonville staple that has been around since 1928. You won’t find fake jewelry being sold here, but Richards says occasionally, people who unknowingly have counterfeit jewelry or watches come in to get those pieces serviced.

“Often times it was given to them as a gift. Maybe the giver didn’t know it was a fake. But it’s always a heartbreaking experience to tell someone they received something that is not what they thought it was,” Richards said.

Richards says counterfeit jewelry also hurts legitimate businesses that carry the brand names that have spent decades building a reputation of having a quality product expected by the consumer. But when a customer is sold a counterfeit product and that product easily breaks or stops working, Richards says, “It devalues that brand name in their mind. And that’s sad for that brand and the value they built in that product.”

And when the brand is devalued, the legitimate store that carries that brand is affected. Richards says the average person may not know the difference between a real name brand piece of jewelry or watch and a fake. But jewelry experts know by the weight of the item and what they can see under a microscope.

Experts say if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

For example, you’re more likely to get an actual Rolex watch from a legitimate Rolex carrier than from somebody claiming to sell Rolex watches at a gas station.

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