A Certificate of Authenticity: What is it and are they important?

A Certificate of Authenticity: What is it and are they important?

What is a certificate of authenticity?

A certificate of authenticity is a document guaranteeing the authenticity of an artwork. It confirms that the artwork has been created by the artist associated with it.

In art, a certificate of authenticity tells you who the artist is, the process used to create the print, the material it’s printed on, whether it’s a limited edition or not, etc.

Similar to identity cards, a certificate of authenticity is tied to only 1 piece and follows it throughout the artwork’s life, from purchase to resale. It does not expire.

When you’re buying a car, designer handbag or designer furniture, for example, you’d want to know the product is authentic and not counterfeit. With an art piece you’d also want to be ensured that the work is original and created by the associated artist. It’s a form of consumer protection. 

Why is a certificate of authenticity important?

The main goal of a certificate of authenticity in art is to prove that the artwork was created by a certain artist - and that it’s not a forgery. You will be sure that the artwork is made by said artist and that it’s not a random photo or print allegedly made by a certain artist.

As the artwork is proven to be authentic, its value increases.

Should you want to resell an art piece or insure it, a certificate of authenticity helps to assess the current and future value of the artwork. It can actually make the artwork easier to sell. A certificate of authenticity is a highly regarded and accepted way to verify an artwork.

When an artist’s career takes off and the art piece ends up being resold several times, it helps collectors to trace the piece’s history and proves it’s an original.

Tones Gallery rubber stamp for art certification

But how do you know that the certificate of authenticity itself is authentic? There are certain points to look out for and whoever issues the document is important too.

What should you look for on a certificate of authenticity?

The main elements of a certificate of authenticity are:

  • An image of the artwork
  • Name of the artist who created the work
  • The title of the work
  • The year(s) it was made and/or completed
  • The technique used
  • The artwork’s dimensions
  • A statement of authenticity
  • Whether or not it is a limited edition and if so, the edition number
  • A tracking code or number specific to the artwork
  • Signature and date

Some details that should be included specifically for prints are: the medium of the original artwork, paint or ink type, printing device or process and type of paper or canvas.

One of the most important parts of a certificate of authenticity, is that the certificate is linked to one artwork only. 

If a certificate does not identify one specific artwork, it’s simply worthless. Therefore it’s important, especially with prints, that there is a unique code or number which can be found on both the certificate and the artwork.

Who can issue a certificate of authenticity?

Another way to identify whether a certificate of authenticity in art is real, is who it was issued by. 

If your certificate has been issued and signed by someone other than the ones listed below, alarm bells should start ringing as that means your certificate is basically worthless.

The certificate can only be issued by:

  • The artist or their heirs
  • An online or physical art gallery which should be a confirmed dealer or agent of the artist
  • An auctioneer
  • An art dealer
  • An art expert or professional, like a scholar or art historian

When the certificate is completed by an agent, art dealer or art gallery, the name and position of the person who created the certificate should be included.

A casual third party dealer or reseller can’t act as authenticator and thus can’t issue or sign a certificate of authenticity.

How does Tones approach Certificates of Authenticity?

Tones Gallery is a confirmed dealer and art gallery for all emerging artists we represent and whose work can be found in the gallery. At Tones we take pride in offering the best quality possible of the artworks created by our artists and we make sure the works are framed and printed to stand the test of time. 

So naturally we offer a certificate of authenticity, which you’ll receive with each and every fine art print you buy in the Gallery.


Our certificates of authenticity are printed on Hahnemühle paper, like every art piece bought in our gallery. Hahnemühle offers a special line of paper with security features, specifically designed for Certificates of Authenticity. This way the certificate will last as long as the artwork itself.

All certificates are signed and stamped by us at Tones, as well as signed by the artist. They also include a serialized numbered hologram, which matches a second hologram on the back of your fine art print, to uniquely tie the certificate and art piece together.

This way you can be sure you received an authentic art piece, created by the emerging artist of your choosing.

Are you ready to get your own certified fine art print to decorate your home with? Have a look at the amazing emerging artists in our gallery here.
If you are not yet sure how to go about buying fine art, then this article will help you out!

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