To tell a real Tiffany lamp apart from its many forgeries, you need to carefully examine both the glass shade and bronze base. An authentic Tiffany lamp is one made between 1890 and 1930 by Tiffany Studios and can be worth anywhere between $4000 to over $1 million, as of 2015.
- Inspect the glass shade
Tiffany glass is recognized for its vibrant confetti colors, a technique which creates specks of different colors within one piece of glass. The shade should also have a cone or globe shape, and typically a botanical design, although other motifs include butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, peacock feathers and geometric patterns. Lightly knock on the glass. It should produce a slight rattle due to aging of the wax that holds the glass together.
- Examine the base
Tiffany lamps almost always have a hollow bronze base, although art pottery was sometimes used as well. Other tell-tale signs include patina due to age and a turn-paddle knob, although some genuine Tiffany lamps have a pull-chain instead.
- Get the lamp appraised by an expert
Some high-quality forgeries are good enough to fool even an expert eye. Before purchasing, ask the retailer for a money-back guarantee. If they're not willing to give it, you may want to take it to an expert appraiser to verify the lamp's authenticity.