Avoiding Fakes and Fines on Your Summer Holiday!

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Travel Watches

Photo: Flikr, alexkerhead: 2009

Jetting off for some summer sun this year? As well as lounging on a beach or catching the rays by the hotel pool, you’ll probably want to see some of the local sights. This may well include a trip to a local market where local produce, handmade accessories and friendship bracelets may well tempt you. You might also be tempted by the promise of ‘real’ designer watches, bags and jewellery which would cost lots more back in the UK.

But beware! Buying fake goods in the UK may not be an offence, but in many foreign countries it most definitely is. In France, the maximum fine is 300,000 euro (£260,000) or three years in jail, while in Italy, police can impose a 10,000 euro (£6,620) on the spot fine for anyone buying fake goods. Even if you avoid the authorities abroad, the UK borders agency is likely to seize your goods when you return home.

Some of the more obvious tips for avoiding fakes include:

  • Avoid street vendors- they certainly won’t have licenses to sell designer goods!
  • Make sure your purchase comes with official, branded packaging which includes a warrantee and a receipt
  • Take a very close look at what you’re buying. If it’s a designer item the quality will be impeccable and probably displayed in a protective case.

Of course, you might well spot a fantastic bargain on that Rolex watch you’ve always wanted, or the Pandora bracelet your daughter’s been asking for, in what looks like a reputable shop. If so, we’ve compiled a few things to look out for:


  • Real Rolexes can only be scratched with a diamond- we don’t recommend attempting to scratch a watch in a shop or on a market stall, but if you spot any scratches on the item then it’s definitely a fake!
  • Check the date window- on a real Rolex it’ll be centred exactly above the number and the numbers will be printed perfectly with no fuzziness or odd spacing
  • Watch how the second hand ticks- on fakes it’s always jerky
  • You shouldn’t’ be able to see a Rolex logo above the ‘Swiss made’ logo on the face- real Rolexes have this etched in such a way that it’s only visible with a jeweller’s magnifying glass!
  • Check the side- you should be able to see a case and model number at six o’clock and 12 o’clock



  • Most new Pandora bracelets and charms are marked with the letters ‘ALE’ plus a 925 on silver items or a 585 on gold items- if you can’t see it, it’s probably a fake!
  •  Most will also have a Pandora crown symbol, although bracelets bought pre-2008 won’t have this as it’s a new feature of Pandora jewellery
  • Genuine Pandora jewellery should only be sold by certified retailers such asJohn Greed Jewellery – the fact is, if you’re in a local market it’s highly unlikely that the seller is genuine
  • Take a detailed look at beads and inspect the quality- lots of copy-cats hand paint glass beads, and you’ll see that the paint’s raised in places. If so, it’s a fake!
  • Give the silver ring inside the bead a good feel- if it’s at all loose or looks tarnished, it’s a fake!


Digging through piles of unusual goodies and gifts is a great holiday pastime and shouldn’t be avoided for the fear of buying dodgy goods- just keep your wits about you. And, if you do fall in love with a special piece of jewellery, why not ‘til you’re back in the UK and can buy from an official retailer such as John Greed Jewellery?


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