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Jeweler's mark?

Question about marking hand crafted jewelry pieces?

I have been told that each jeweler in the USA that does hand crafted
SS work is to mark the piece as SS and also have his own stamp or
initials or ?? on each piece.

What are the details on this? I have only made a few pieces and have
not marked any thing. It looks like my work would sell if I choose to
do so. What would I need to do for the pieces that would be for sale?


Hello Larry: To the best of my knowledge the law states that if you
are going to quality mark the piece the quality mark must be
accompanied by a makers mark. This meaning that if you make jewelry
and do not stamp it SS, you do not have to have a makers mark stamped
in it. You still must comply with the very strick laws of the Federal
Trade Commission as to the puraty you are representing the piece to
be, as you know I’m sure. I like having one because as a bench
jeweler I must quality mark my custom work and it also involks a
sence of pride in your workmanship.

Michael R. Mathews sr. Victoria, Texas USA

If you mark precious metals, you must have a registered trademark to
mark it with, under federal law. For more on registering a trademark
in the U.S. check out the U.S. Patent and Trademark officeat

For a rather complete overview of U.S. laws on marking precious
metals and trademarks, try the April and May 1998 issues of AJM
Magazine. Elly Rosen wrote a two-part article that offers an in-depth
look at the laws regulating the marking of precious metals. To order
a copy of the article, try the AJM website at (use the article index to locate and order
the articles … just search using the author’s name) or call MJSA at
(800) 444-6572.


 from I have been told that each jeweler in the
USA that does hand crafted SS work is to mark the piece as SS and
also have his own stamp or initials or ?? on each piece. What are
the details on this? 

larry - this is just one of those old husbands’ tales. i just engrave
either ‘.925’ or ‘sterling’ next to my ‘ive’ inside or on back of my
pieces; in a description, sometimes necessary for clients who have
never heard of some of the stones i cut & use (the timeless “i don’t
know anything about stones, but i know what i like”), i list the
contents of the entire piece: “australian opal, lightning ridge (1);
tanzanite faceted 6 mm stones (3); half-drilled 8 mm freshwater
pearls (9); all metal is sterling silver.” usually i put the above on
the back of my card since people find it easier to keep business
cards since they stick them into their jewelry cases. i would give you
a jewelry industry vigilance website, but as soon as i do someone
might jump in hard with criticism & i don’t want to be responsible
for any broken ankles. (honest!) good luck -


    If you mark precious metals, you must have a registered
trademark to mark it with, under federal law. 

I would like to point out that U.S. federal law does not apply in the
case of products that are not sold across state lines. This principle
applies to a huge number of small companies that are reluctant in the
early stages to invest $270 in a trademark and another $50-100 for a

Maybe an attorney can give 5 minutes to verify this.

Bruce Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler

Actually, Ive this is not an old husbands’ tale. It IS the law that
IF you are going to put a quality stamp on a piece then you must have
an identifying stamp on it.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140


In the USA the FTC regulations state that if you put a quality mark

on your work i.e. 14K, Sterling, Platinum etc. you must also mark it
with a registered trademark or the makers name. The law is very
explicit in what and where it must be marked. It is unlikely that you
will ever be prosecuted for ignoring this but it is the law for what
its worth.


James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (510) 533-5108
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (510) 533-5439


Bruce, Regarding marking precious metals and products that are not
sold across state lines…

You are absolutely right: federal marking laws do not apply to
products that are not sold across state lines. There are, however,
also a number of states that also have laws on this topic, including
New York and Hawaii. The AJM articles cover that issue, as well.

Of course, in some areas of the country it’s easier to avoid selling
across state lines than others. You could probably make a decent
living within your own state if you live in California. If you reside
in Rhode Island, however, it’s a rather limited market. “Selling
across state lines” would include doing a craft show in a neighboring
state or selling your products in out of state galleries, I believe.

Mind you, in nine years writing abou this industry I’ve never heard
of a single case of marking without a registered trademark being
prosecuted – or even remarked upon. When Dateline NBC did a story on
underkarating a couple of years back, only one of the dozen or so
pieces they assayed had even been stamped with a trademark. The story
came and went, and I haven’t seen any political pressure on the feds
to crack down on unmarked jewelry items. They might show a little
interest in cases of outright fraud (marking a piece 14k when it’s
less than 10k, for instance), but I can’t imagine a scenario in which
the authorities would crack down on correctly marked and karated items
just because the craftsperson hadn’t registered the trademark.
(Although perhaps others on the list can.) In reality, I think the
decision of whether to comply with the law or not is really up to your
own conscience. If you’re just starting out and are going to be
selling mostly to locals, I certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep about
not registering a trademark – although if you’re the law abiding
type, I’d certainly plan to do it as my business grew and I started
looking out of my own backyard.

Not an attorney, just someone who’s talked to an awful lot of them
and read a lot of legislation over the years…


Suzanne Wade
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (520) 563-8255

Hi All, I really appreciate everyone’s about this,
especially Jim and Suzanne (and anyone else I missed.) I had no idea
about the laws regarding this, although it makes sense. We do our own
alloying and clearly should be doing this.

Jim mentioned below that the law is specific about where the mark
should be. Where can I get a transcript of the law regarding this
issue? The FTC website?

Also, Suzanne Wade mentioned that it is important that the designer’s
stamp be trademarked. I am curious as to the reasons why. Is it so
that the mark can be traced to a particular designer in the case of
suspected fraud? Also, is a trademark from the State of Arizona
sufficient, or is a federal trademark required as well? I realize that
we are jewelers, for the most part, and not attorneys, but any help
would be appreciated.


JoAnna Kelleher, co-owner
Pearl Exotics Trading Company, LLC
Phoenix, AZ
Phn# 623.845.0998
Fax# 623.845.0917

Hi Joanna, The reference for the marking requirement laws is 15 USC
291-300. If you’re familiar with the lawbooks, that should be enough
to find the text of the law. If you’re not familiar, you might ask for
help at your local law library, or big city reference desk. (In my
experience, a question like this is often beyond small-town
librarians, although sometimes you’ll find one who’s up to the

The portion of the law regarding registered trademarks is quoted at
length in the AJM article in the April 1998 issue. If you want to
learn more about this topic, I’d recommend you start there, just
because it’s a heck of a lot easier reading than the law itself. But
if you prefer to go to the source, the act in question is the 1906
National Gold and Silver Stamping Act, as amended.

The trademark requirement requires a federally registered trademark,
so a state registered one wouldn’t be adequate to be in compliance with
the federal law.

The only real reason for it to be a federally registered trademark is
because that’s what the law stipulates. Anything less, and you’re not
in compliance with the law, simple as that. I’m sure the law was
written that way to make it possible to trace the trademark back to
the manufacturer in the event the piece proved to be underkarated or
otherwise something other than what it was represented to be.

I believe MJSA also may have more available to members on
complying with this law. You can contact their member services
departmetn at 1-800-444-6572.