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An article made or sold, with intent to deceive, as a close imitation of a contemporaneously available genuine article, being dependent for its value mainly on the material that it imitates rather than the workmanship or style.
For centuries there have been imitations of gemstones being made of glass or paste, sometimes backed with foil to give a false hue, or with gelatin to make a doublet, or topped with a silver diamond to simulate a diamond. The practice of imitating continued until medieval times and was expanded by such practices as mingling, in one piece, glass or spurious gems with precious stones, or mingling inferior pearls with those of quality.
Sometimes stones whose colour had been changed by heat treatment were sold as stones naturally of the same colour. Some transparent uncoloured stones of quartz have been miscalled a local variety of diamonds (but such stones or synthetic gemstones are not regarded as counterfeits if not intended to deceive).
Base metals have been silvered or gilded so as to imitate a precious metal (but such materials as strass, pinchbeck, and similor are not regarded as counterfeits, as not intended to deceive but only to simulate). Some counterfeit articles of gold or silver have been made of sub-standard metal, which practice was sought to be eliminated by the use of the hallmark (difficult to apply to small articles of jewelry, especially a finger ring, and so not always successful).
More pernicious counterfeiting was the making of a gold ring with a hollow shank or a shank filled with some composition.
From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson