This time of year, many husbands are scrambling for a last-minute gift for their wives and jewelry is often seen as a perfect solution.  But beware: all that glitters isn’t gold and if a deal is to good to be true it’s likely counterfeit jewelry. Jewelry is an item that has been the target of counterfeiters and forgers for centuries.

While artists have long been inspired by ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Native American designs, to name just a few, there is a huge difference between an artist creating a design inspired by another culture and an unscrupulous person trying to convince a buyer that a ring that was created last month came from a recently opened tomb within a pyramid in Egypt.

That isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. Forgers have long sought to convince consumers that the item they are selling is legitimate. Counterfeit Rolex and Patek Philippe watches are regularly sold on the streets of New York, and sometimes it can be very difficult to tell the difference…until one of the hands falls off or the sweep secondhand stops moving.  Likewise, luxury jewelers – like Tiffany or Cartier – have a distinctive style that is highly coveted by customers and – unfortunately – also by forgers.

Of course, not everyone who buys a fake Rolex watch or Tiffany ring is being deceived. Some people seek out the fakes as a way to project a champagne image on a beer budget. Nevertheless, in spite of the consumer’s motivations, if the fake jewelry violated the jewelers’ trademark, then it has violated U.S. trademark laws, harmed the original jeweler’s brand, and diluted their overall image, too.

Companies have begun fighting back. Six months ago, Amazon and Cartier filed suit against several businesses selling non-branded counterfeit rings and bracelets made in Cartier’s style on Amazon. The items were non-branded in an attempt to deceive Amazon’s counterfeit detection software. It didn’t work. While this suit is still in U.S. District Court and a final decision seems a way off, some companies have turned to the digital world to protect their brands.

Blockchain technology, most well known in the NFT (for non-fungible tokens) world, is a system that records information and tracks transactions across a business network to ensure authenticity of a digital or tangible product.  It is hoped that this digital pedigree may make it more difficult for counterfeiters to deceive consumers and harm a company’s brand.