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Jeweler licensing laws in Europe and the UK?


#1

Is anyone familiar with the legalities of working as a goldsmith in
Europe and the UK? I am particularly interested in the UK and
France. In particular, are there any professional licensing
requirements relating to calling oneself a “goldsmith” or otherwise
working in the trade, including any restrictions on buying metals,
etc? (I’m only looking for technical issues related to this trade,
not general immigration / employment restrictions, which I know
about).

I had gotten the impression at some point that some countries still
had laws in this area, or remnants of the old guild systems, that
restricted who could work at these trades and/or purchase precious
metals. Is this still true? And, if so, what US credentials might
qualify someone to work there?

Thanks in advance for any you might have. We are
looking at the possibility of retiring overseas, and our daughter is
lobbying for France, where she will be living.

Best regards,

Bob Edwards
Chromis Designs
Annapolis, Maryland


#2

Bob, I can tell you how things are in the UK. Things may be
different in France. They are definitely different in Germany.

Three things to consider…

First is the business side. If you’re going to set up as a business
then there are certain general requirements, regardless of what you
peddle. Taxes, planning permission, health and safety regulations
and joyfully on and on. This still applies even if you run the
business out of your garage. Of course, if it’s just a hobby…
The tax authorities have helpful (yes, really) guidance on just when
a hobby becomes a business. In short, the usual stuff that you’d
have to contend with anywhere.

Second is setting up as a jeweller. Firstly, learn how we spell
"jewellery" here . Now, in the UK, you can advertise yourself
as a jeweller, master jeweller, goldsmith, silversmith, as the fancy
takes you. What you mustn’t do is try to give the impression that
you have qualifications or affiliations that you don’t actually have.
The term “designer-maker”, used by those doing one-offs, currently
has a certain cachet.

There are various local commercial organisations that you can join
(you have to be able to demonstrate a certain level of competence,
and pay an annual fee…) that enable you to claim that you are
member of, for example “The Guild of Master Craftsmen”. No offence
intended to these organisations, but they don’t really count as
qualifications. Still, may bring in some business.

There is The Worshipfull Company of Goldsmiths, which traces its
origins back to the old guild days, though it’s moved along and away
from that sort of thing, and most jewellers never have anything to do
with them. I don’t mean that to sound as though they are to avoided,
certainly not, they sponsor research and commissions. If you become
important enough they’ll probably invite you along for a chat.

You can buy precious metals to your hearts content, just cough up
the money. You’re right, years ago you needed to have a licence, but
that was in the days of the so-called gold standard supporting
currencies. Anyways, no licence needed now.

Third point is that to sell an item as being made of silver, gold or
platinum, it has to be hallmarked (there are a few exceptions). It
has to be sent or taken to one of the assay offices for testing and
marking. You have to register with an assay office, pay to have your
individual punch made, pay a registration fee every ten years, and
pay for each piece (with a minimum charge per parcel). Registration
is just a simple form and some money. You can register as a student,
hobbyist (as I do) or maker. All this is a hassle and a nuisance,
but in their heart of hearts the trade wouldn’t have it any other
way. Continuous consumer protection since the 1300s… The costs
are included in your overheads, of course, and thus into the selling
price. Pas de problem, as they say in your other land of choice.

What it boils down to is that whatever way you currently pursue the
business where you are now, you could set up here and sink or swim
just as easily. As a basis for choosing a country to retire to there
are all sorts of other considerations, of course. Whatever you
decide, best wishes for your retirement. –

Kevin  (NW England, UK)