I have always wondered what the strange trio of notches on the double-C turnlock of my trusty ol' black lambskin Chanel flap bag meant. My mother passed it down to me—in fantastic condition, by the way—just as I was adjusting to university life some years ago, and eons later, it's a tad worn, a little scratched, and maybe a bit too well-loved...but I still haven't made anything of the mysterious marks.
Until now. As I was aimlessly clicking around on YouTube last weekend, I came across one of luxury vlogger Mel In Melbourne's videos where she talks about how her husband hunted down a pre-loved Chanel flap bag to give her as a present. I wondered, Why not brand new? Turns out, according to Mel, vintage Chanels are made with real gold, while current versions no longer are!
So, back to the big bold question: Once and for all, are Chanel bags made with real gold? I immediately got digging, and Yoogi's Closet, a trusted online seller of pre-owned luxury goodies, explains things pretty well:
"...vintage Chanel bags were made with real 24K gold hardware. In late 2008 (08/09 Cruise collection), Chanel stopped making hardware with real 24K gold-plated hardware; instead, they started using gold-toned hardware.
"Before late 2008, Chanel classic flaps with gold-colored hardware (chains, clasps, grommets, and CC turnlocks) were plated in real 24K gold. These Chanel bags (made pre-2009), have hardware that is made with an alloy containing 24K gold. The alloy is coated onto the metal. When the metal wears down due to frequent use, climate and handling, the silver-colored base metal may be exposed."
There you have it: The answer is yes and no! It's simply a matter of when your beloved bag was made. The facts also shed light on exactly why vintage Chanel, regardless of age, still sells for sky-high prices on the market. True classics.
Next big query: How do I know if a Chanel bag is made with real gold? To answer, let me just hark right back to my initial story about the odd set of notches on my own purse. Here's what it looks like up close, in case you were curious.
Should yours bear a similar etched seal, then that's a clear indication that the hardware is 24K gold. If your bag was crafted before 2008, you'll spy a small stamp on the top left, top right, or bottom right of the CC logo turnlock. The location may vary based on what year and where the clasp was created.
That said, take note that some Chanel bags with gold CC turnlocks weren't hallmarked at all. For example, if they were made in Italy instead of France, then you may not find any stamp whatsoever. Interesting.
Want an estimate of when your vintage piece may have been made? Check out Yoogi's comprehensive guide to Chanel's 24K gold hallmark stamps here! (I found out that mine was probably born somewhere between 1988 to 1990...)