Confused about Maker's Mark Stamps

Dear Friends on Orchid,

I am so confused about Maker’s Mark Stamps for jewelry. I’m hoping
you guys can help clarify this for me.

Based on previous posts here on Orchid, and info gleaned from
elsewhere, my understanding is that if you want to quality stamp your
jewelry with “sterling” or “14k” or whatever, then you must also
stamp your “Maker’s Mark”, the idea being so the maker can be
tracked down if the quality mark is found to be wrong. In the US, we
can’t register “Maker’s Marks” per se but we can register a
Trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office. So, I’ve been
trying to design a stamp to register.

The issue is: for a design to look good when it is shrunk down to a
tiny size, say to fit on a ring shank that is 2 mm wide, the design
must be very simple with thin lines and not much detail. I’ve been
trying to do something with my initials, but the Trademark Attorney
says my design must be more “stylized”, have more “design elements”
so that it will be seen as unique by the Trademark Office examiners.

I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to come up with a design that I
like, can use as my logo on my website, and that also looks good
shrunk down to stamp size - - and I’m really struggling. It seems
like the characteristics needed for these 2 purposes are totally at
odds with each other! I’ve been trying to find out what other
jewelers do. I asked the stamp-making guy what others do and he said,
“Usually jewelers don’t use their trademarked logo because of it’s
complexity. The stamps made for rings are usually just initials and

So, is this true? How can everyone just uses their initials, which
are not trademarked? Does that satisfy the stamping laws?

I appreciate your help on getting straightened out here - - it’s
become a stumbling block for me.

Thanks! - - Nan

Artisan-made fine jewelry… different!

Hello Nan,

I've been pulling my hair out trying to come up with a design that
I like, can use as my logo on my website, and that also looks good
shrunk down to stamp size - - and I'm really struggling. It seems
like the characteristics needed for these 2 purposes are totally at
odds with each other! 

You’re right, they are at odds with each other, but that’s just the
kind of challenge that a good graphic designer can make short work

When I faced similar questions, compounded by the fact that I had a
distinct style in mind (Art Deco), I was totally stumped. As fortune
would have it I was introduced to a graphic designer (named Michel)
who had experience in advertising (corporate and product design). He
made very short work of my little quandary and I’m thrilled to bits
with the result.

I now have a excellent logo that scales to pretty much any size, even
as small as a (superb) ring stamp which I had made by Bill Divine at

So my suggestion is figure out your requirements and hand it over to
someone who knows what they’re doing with this kind of thing. If
you’re a little lucky, and I know I was in finding Michel, you may
find that the end results vastly exceed your expectations.

Trevor F.
in The City of Light
Visit at


When you have attorneys giving you creative advice, you are in
trouble. :wink:

Just use your NL logo like on your site – I cannot imagine it would
be rejected by the feds. It is a specific font, an assembly of the
two letters – unless there is another NL out there you should be

Or…how about a thumbprint?

BTW – Maker’s Mark is very good neat in a snifter.


Dear Nan,

I designed my mark to be a combination of my initials MB, and a
women’s symbol. This was fairly simple, and was something that had
not been done by any other companies, such as Milton Bradley, with an
MB. I had two stamps made, one for small pieces ( so tiny that almost
no one can even see it), and one for larger pieces. When I was
designing, I found some kind of book or catalog that showed other
trademark stamps, so I knew what to avoid. I don’t remember who
published it. HTH,

M’lou Brubaker

Most people use a unique stamp regardless of the size- that’s up to
you, though, but then again if you just stamp it T.P., that doesn’t
mean much, either. By the way, everything you said it true, but if a
piece is truly “Unstampable”, then you don’t have to…

Hi Nan,

Years ago I had a stamp made with my initials, in cursive, as I
signed my artwork in school. I use it on the back of every piece I
make. Occasionally on the front as a textural element, (Gucci here I
come!). I have never tried to register it, though I think a signature
might be a little more distinctive than a lot of pictures. Since all
our work carries our personalities within the finished piece, I
figure some day, after I’m dead and buried, someone will look at
these initials and try to track down who they belong to. Will there
be success?

Jenny Levernier
jmml designs
Minneapolis, MN

Here in the UK a makers mark stamp has to be registered, and
re-registered every 10 years, with the Assay Office before any piece
of gold or silver can be assayed and subsequently sold. Every punch
you intend to use has to be sent to the Assay Office where it is
registered and itself marked with the Assay Office stamp and its
registered number and it is then struck into a copper plate which is
kept permanently at the Assay Office. So, even many generations
later, a maker can be identified by asking the appropriate Assay
Office who the stamp was registered to. In general, our makers marks
are only of initials but they may be of any number and arrangement.
Another way of ‘personalising’ your initials would be to separate
them with dots, asterisks, crosses or whatever and to use a shaped
frame such as joined circles, diamonds etc. I feel privileged that my
mark is just the initials IW in a rectangle with cut corners - a mark
which has been used in the past by many auspicious makers, however,
there is no fear of my work being confused with any of these other
makers as my marks are only registered with the Sheffield Assay
Office (whose stamp also appears on hallmarked pieces) and only I
have that mark registered with them at this time.

Best wishes, Ian
Ian W. Wright