So you think you’ve found a Lladró piece? The colours and style are practically identical however you can’t spot a logo and you want to make sure its authentic before you buy or sell it. You be surprised how many customers come to us with the same questions and concerns about a piece they’ve bought or one they’re hoping to sell.
With the success that Lladró’s has found worldwide, it’s not uncommon to find copies or look-alikes floating around on the virtual and physical auction counters. Here are our factors to look for when buying Lladró.
The easiest way to tell if a Lladró piece is authentic or not is by checking the bottom or base for the company logo. This is typically in the bright blue ink that is now the brand’s signature colour however, it’s important to note that the appearance and style of the logo have changed a lot over the years. So if you notice that the logo on your piece does not look the same as the ones pictured here, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the piece is fake. Some of the earliest sculptures by Lladró bear only a small handwritten etching of the brand’s name on the bottom. Regardless of the style of the logo, Lladró’s porcelain pieces will always be marked with the brand’s name on the bottom.
Notice the difference in style and hues between these two logos that were made a few decades apart.
Even though both pieces are authentic Lladró, you can see a definite evolution in the style.
You may have noticed when browsing through Lladró’s collections that the brand maintains a consistent sense of aesthetic across their different categories. From the composition of the figurines to the colours and finishes used, many of those wishing to create a knock-off of Lladró will first start by mimicking the brand’s signature styles and techniques to create pieces that will look nearly identical to Lladró. Although on a surface level, a knock-off and an authentic Lladró may look the same, when closely analysed the differences can be startling if one knows what to look for.
One of the signature aspects of Lladró’s style is their pastel colour palette, achieved through the use of the high-temperature single firing method which the brand pioneered in their early years. This technique can be notably difficult as any ceramicist or Lladró enthusiast will tell you. Thus many brands will either attempt to use this technique with mixed results or opt to paint the colours on post-firing in order to achieve the delicate pastel look but without the risk involved in a single firing. Lladró’s classic range has the greatest evidence and selection of pieces showing this technique, so many brands will pick and choose aspects from varieties of pieces to and combine into a piece that may look and feel like Lladró’s but has never been a part of Lladró’s porcelain range.
One of the things that Lladró customers and enthusiasts most love about the brand is its refined and timeless style. Even though that style has evolved over the years and their range has expanded, at the core of Lladró image is a commitment to creating pieces that will retain that sense of elegance, refinement and presence. Above anything else, this aspect of Lladró’s culture is something that not only customers wish to capture and can make it a challenge to determine at first glance if what you are buying is a genuine item.
Quality can be a telling factor when trying to gauge the authenticity of a piece. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of buying at auction, in person and online is that you may not have full access to see and assess the piece up close until after the fact. If you do happen to be at a physical auction, you’ll likely be able to inspect the piece before you make your final purchase, in this instance, there are a few tells that can indicate the piece is not an authentic Lladró.
1. Is it real porcelain?
The first thing to ascertain is if the piece is genuine porcelain or just ceramic such as earthenware or stoneware. The easiest way to know the difference is to find a part of the piece which has the raw porcelain exposed, porcelain in its raw form tends to be a very crisp white tone. Porcelain also has fewer impurities than stoneware or earthenware so when it is fired it should have a smooth, glass-like texture to the touch and have a near translucent quality. Additionally, porcelain should also have a melodic sound when tapped lightly with a fingernail or small bit of metal. What is stoneware and why do you never see it paired with porcelain?
It’s important to note that many of Lladró’s pieces are decorated to look like earthenware or stoneware, or are made using Gres porcelain which has a colour similar to earthenware. So just because it doesn’t initially look how porcelain typically looks doesn’t mean it is not porcelain. What is Gres and how is it created?
2. Real 24k gold or gold paint?
If you have a piece of porcelain that is decorated with a gold finish and you think it may be a Lladró, always check to make sure the gold is real! Every touch of gold that you see decorating Lladró’s pieces is real 24 karat gold lustre. When buying Lladró at auction or not from an authorised distributor, ensure that you check the quality of any gold present on the piece as many fakes will cut corners by using gold paint instead of gold lustre. Gold paint typically lacks the inconsistencies that gold lustre can have such as flecks of black that show the original colour of the lustre before it was fired. Even if the piece appears genuine, it is still important to check the quality of the gold as it’s not uncommon for gold paint to be used to cover damage made to the porcelain and original gold lustre.
3. Was it painted before or after it was fired?
Most of the time the colours you see on ceramics were painted on before it was put in the kiln and fired with the piece. The firing process makes sure the colour is baked into the piece and as with porcelain, the colour is practically permanent due to the less porous nature of the material when compared to other ceramics. This is an important thing as many people assume Lladró’s wide variety of pastel and vibrant colours are painted on after the pieces are fired but this is not the case.
Many counterfeit copies of Lladró will try to achieve their pastel colours which are much harder to achieve by painting them on afterwards. Meaning they won’t have to face the risks that come when porcelain is fired at such high temperatures. On the other hand, painted porcelain tends to have a surface level appearance in the sense that it may flake, crack, fade and even have residual pigment when touched. Glazed pigment is looks and feels as though it is part of the porcelain and generally won’t flake or fade over time.
Notice the differences in tone of the gold lustre on the wing of Lladró’s Winged Fantasy, you can see the flecks of black which are remnants of its original colour and indicates its authenticity.
In all of Lladró coloured porcelain creations the colour is painted on before they are fired in the kiln, allowing the colour to be baked into the pores of the porcelain.
When verifying your piece’s authenticity, checking the piece’s certification is one of the best ways to go about it. The first place most people think to look is Lladró’s own website, a common misconception about Lladró’s website is that it contains every piece ever created by the brand. Whilst it’s true that a great many of Lladró’s pieces can be found on their website, many are not and it can be easy to think that just because a piece is not listed on the website means it must be a fake.
However, there are other ways to check your piece, for example, there are many reputable online websites that have a well documented and informative catalogue of the many pieces Lladró has created over the years. These can be good ways to at least know if the piece you have is a Lladró creation.
It is surprisingly common for people to mistake Nao porcelain for Lladró and vice versa. Even though the two share a lot of the same qualities, it is important to note that although Nao is owned by Lladró, Nao is its own distinct brand with its own separate catalogue. So if you can’t find your piece in any Lladró catalogue, be sure to check the range of porcelain figurines created by Nao as well.
Finally, every limited edition Lladró creation comes with a certificate of authenticity that stipulates not only the reference number for the piece but the piece’s limited edition number that indicates when it was released. If you want further confirmation, a great way to do so is to contact your local Lladró distributor directly and enquire with them.
Ultimately, when it comes to 2nd hand items, there will always be the possibility that it is not the real deal. Even if you’ve checked all the factors we’ve discussed here, Lladró is a well-known and highly sought after brand and the market for counterfeit Lladró will only grow with the brand’s popularity. We always recommend speaking to a licensed and qualified appraiser when valuing your piece or checking its authenticity.