Registering a Hallmark

A few years back - I checked locally about the registering of a
hallmark - and what is the current requirement by law. Spoke
with jewelers locally and the Hawai`i Jewelers Assoc. and it
seems by law we are supposed to register our hallmark and use it
whenever we stamp metal - claiming the karat gold etc. If you
don’t stamp the metal - apparently it is not required.

Well, I went to the library and researched the registry for my
choice of the stamp and did find listings for those initials -
but without the visuals to know how close the registed hallmark
would be to my own. The registration fee is $275 and it is a one
time deal - if they turn down your hallmark because it is too
similar to another registered one - then you have to start over -
another $275 out of pocket.

Anyone have suggestions - and how essential is this step in the
jewelry business? It was not required in my mentor’s day.

Mahalo (thank you) in advance.

Cynthia: Mahalo back at ya. If you put a karat quality stamp on an
article, it must be “signed”. That is the reason for a hallmark.
It’s a Federal Trade Commission rule. (Not a guideline, a rule.
If you don’t put a karat stamp on your work, don’t worry about
it. If you do, get your trademark. You can get more info from
Jewelers of America. If you need their #, let me know.

Jeff Kaiser

You need to contact the Jewelers Vigilance Committee in New
York. They have a very detailed package about the requirements
of hallmarking and the names of some lawyers who can help you do
the research, etc. I’m not sure but they may be on line with
this info. I don’t have their info here at home with me but if
you can’t find anything on line about them email me and I’ll
bring home the stuff.

Will look online for the two organizations that were suggested.
It may take a few days to get to it - so, will keep you posted
if I get stuck.

I would like to so more research before sending in the papers.
Thanks cynthia

Hi Cynthia. Not sure how important it is in the states, but in
good ol’ Canada, you can’t sell anything stamped or marked or
indicated as a “precious metal” (.925, any karat) without one. If
your trademark isn’t registered, and you stamp something, you can
be closed down permanently (in extreme cases) or fined. As for
your question on trademarks, have you tried Altavista or the like
for “Registered Trademarks + U.S.A.” or anything? That’s probably
your best bet. I know the Canadian trademarks are all online.
Best of luck, Kieran.

Cynthia, AJM magazine did an in-depth article on stamping and
hallmarking in the April and May 1998 issues. The first article
included on what the stamping requirements were, and
the second included on tolerances for precious metal
content. You should be able to get copies of the articles by
e-mailing or by cruising on over to
their web site at

And yes, the FTC rules are just guidelines. But bewaRe: those
are the standards that the courts and federal government will
generally use to determine whether or not fraud has been
committed, especially in the areas of advertising and labeling.
Ignore them at your peril. In addition, metal stamping laws are
not FTC guidelines. They are an entirely different federal law:
the Precious Metal Stamping Act. If you’re working in precious
metals, you should be familiar with it.

Suzanne Wade
AJM Contributing Editor

Hello Kieran,

Unless there is some recent act that I am unaware of you are not
quite correct in your statement. True, CCCA will prosecute if
pieces are quality stamped only, however they will accept an
artists signature or identifying initials on the piece in lieu of
a trade mark. I have no idea if this is also true in America but
I think it would be worth finding out if one was a low volume
jeweller or a productive hobbyist with no serious ambitions to
make one’s mark in the jewellery business.

I have had only one experience with the “Jewellery Police” and
was amazed at their diligence. I was approached by a local
jeweller Mr X, with a tray of imported silver rings that he
consigned to me for sale in my rock shop. Two days later I was
confronted by 2 gentlemen who told me that they were there to buy
one of the rings that I had acquired from Mr X, yup, they knew
who had brought them to me. I have no idea how they found out so
quickly and my inquiry in this regard suggested omniprescience.
Apparently they had informed Mr X that he must not sell these
unsigned pieces with the quality marks intact and were not
sympathetic to his financial losses or extra work. They were also
not impressed by his attempts to pass off the illegal goods on

I ought to mention that they informed me before making the
purchase what they were doing they also explained the penalties
and requirements at the same time assuring me that I would not be
compromising myself by assisting them. They seemed to be more
concerned with keeping the trade honest rather than finding
prosecutable offences as no charges were ever laid. Mr X informed
me later that they had indeed given him a healthy scare and
certainly dissuaded any further ideas he might have had to
repeat such an incident. The rings were confiscated. He should
have melted and scrapped them.

\ () || |/
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web site:

Vancouver, B.C. CANADA.

Thanks for the feedback so far.

I did find the US trademark listing online - as Kieran suggested
and have put in a request for the articles that Suzanne Wade
mentioned. And I will look into the Precious Metals Stamping Act

  • am not familiar with it.

Also, managed to find a lawyer locally who worked 7 years in NY
as a patent-trademark lawyer. Things are moving along at a good

We have had incidences of under-karated gold in Hawai`i - in the
news a few years ago. A manufacturer locally that I talked with

  • actually runs tests on the gold he receives from reputable
    suppliers. I didn’t realize that this was necessary. As an
    independent jeweler - very small production - I don’t plan to
    test my sources of metal - very costly. Hopefully, that step is
    not needed - if the metal used is clean from the suppliers.

Look forward to any other feedback. Most of the independent
jewelers I know haven’t taken this step (of registering a
trademark) - so, this forum is very helpful.


I’ve been reading the messages concerning hallmarking and
quality stamping, and it makes me wonder about my own situation.
I never work in gold of less than 18K, and only in fine silver,
and my work does not lend itself to marks of any sort, being
knots tied in wire.

So far as I know there is nobody making anything that could be
mistaken for my work, and I have no interest in duplicating
anyone else’s work, hence there wouldn’t be any doubt as to who
made it. This being the case, is there any compelling reason for
me to use such markings?

Loren Damewood

The Act states: “Where a quality mark is applied to a precious
metal article it must also bear a trade-mark that has either been
applied for or registered with the Registrar of Trade-marks in
Canada.” It then goes on to say UK hallmarks are okay, as well as
Foreign Government marks, and then, in the "Other Marks"
category, it agrees with your statement of initials or name of a
dealer in accordance with a trademark… so as far as I can
interpret, it says initials are kosher as long as there’s ALSO a
trademark… have you heard differently? I’m going by the 1996
Precious Metals Act, 'cause it’s the only one I can get my paws

There are “compelling reasons,” as you put it, for marking your
work, even if it is composed of high karat/fineness, and you do
not think other work could be confused with yours.

  1. It is the law. The National Gold and Silver Marking act
    requires sellers of precious metals to mark their work with a
    quality stamp and identifying hallmark. In reality this act is
    very rarely enforced in the US, and some small makers just ignore

  2. Stamping makes your work look finished and professional.

  3. You want people to be able to identify your work and find
    you, based on the hallmark in your work. Customers should be able
    to find you for more work. Appraisers too, should be able to
    identify makers.

  4. Without a mark, you are claiming no intellectual property
    rights. However, by adding a hallmark you establish the basis of
    claiming a copyright.

  5. Your wire work, as you described it, may be difficult, but
    not impossible to mark. Micro Stamp is the place to go for a very
    small stamp.

  6. Quality marks on jewelry assure the consumer that they are
    truly getting precious metals. If you tell your cutomer that the
    work is gold and silver, you must stamp it so. If it is quality
    stamped, you must add your hallmark.

Good luck,

Alan Revere
Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
San Francisco

Good Morning - Yes, the site where I found the listing of
Pending and Registered Trademarks is :

This gives the listing that I found in the public library a few
years ago. Some entries include visuals - major companies. It is
hard to tell by the on-line search how close these entries are to
my personalized stamp. There were 3 jewelry related trademarks
with my initials. As long as the similarity of mark is from a
different industry - I’m pretty sure there is no problem. I did
notice that every trademark registered was done with a lawyer’s
help. . .

I’ll be meeting with the lawyer next week - so, am putting
together my 1/2 hour of questions! One question is - does a
one-time registration include my name and or shortened version of
my name as well as the initials? It would be nice to register
only once - for a lifetime - but I may sign my work differently
in time. Initials are great - they take up less space on a piece
of jewelry.

And Yes, Loren - stamping wire is humbug - maybe with a micro
stamp -it could be done! In reading the Trade Commission rules

  • (site listed below) - It seems that if there is a claim to the
    materials used in the product presented by attaching a tag or
    whatever - it counts too. So, maybe the actual stamping of the
    metal is not the only scenerio where registration is required.

However - I am no expert - this is the reason for the current
research project here!

Hoover and Strong have a great page that lists the organizations
that have been recommended to contact:

Okay - I f i n a l l y found the Federal Trade Commission site
for the rule that Jeff Kaiser mentioned:

Well - that is all I can handle for one am. Hope it saves time
for others! aloha cynthia

   So far as I know there is nobody making anything that could
be mistaken for my work, and I have no interest in duplicating
anyone else's work, hence there wouldn't be any doubt as to
who made it 

You assume that anyone seeing your work would be familier with
you. What about the poor fellow somewhere other than your
neighborhood, who is brought your work for resale, or appraisal,
or the like? He needs to know what the piece is made of and who
made it to accurately evaluate it… May a customer brings in a
piece of yours, recieved as a gift, and want’s another one…
How do you expect to be found?

Artists who don’t sign their work can expect the annonymity that

As to whether you wish to do so, and in what manner, is up to
you. For legal purposes, the only thing the law states is that
IF you represent the work as being of precious metals, you must
mark it as such, and if you mark the piece with it’s precious
metal content, then you must also mark it with a registered
trademark essentially stating who it is that is guaranteeing
that metal quality.

You can, by the way, obtain stamps capable of very delicately
marking a piece of wire. Normally used for earposts, they work
on other uses of that wire as well. Microstamp makes them.

Also, to the best of my knowledge, the law does not actually
require that these marks be permanently stamped on the piece.
The law mostly concerns itself with the markings available to a
consumer at time of purchase. A permanent marking is much to be
preferred, but if the work does not lend itself to stamps, then
I think it’s legal to use a “hang tag” that will stay with the
work until the end consumer gets it. The law says that the
precious metal marking and the trademark marking must be the same
type of mark, so you can’t mix and match, here. But this affords
a reasonable alternative for works that cannot easily be marked.
I’d suggest the use of a decorative enough storage/display/gift
box that the end consumer will want to keep it, and the
descriptive tag be part of that packaging material, as another
way to handle such a situation.

Hope this helps

Peter Rowe


Thank you for the links, I’ll be sure to check them out.
Hoover&Strong is a company with which I am familiar, as I get my
raw materials from them. (I’m dancing a small jig at the moment
'cause I just got a commission for a ring to be made with their
patented “Peach Gold” and Palladium White! :wink:


Hi Cynthia - I have a testing kit which I use on gold to
determine the k. I rub the gold against a stone and use different
acids on the rub mark. Different karats disappear depending on
which acid you are using. I’m sure these kits are still
available from somewhere. Got mine about 10 years ago and there’s
still enough acid to go another 10 years at the rate I use it.


Thank you very much for your thoughts on this. If it is possible
to get a very small stamp, I could probably manage to find a
place on the work to use it. I’ll have to look for Microstamp.

In fact, I have a rather unusual mark that I use in ink, a
mutant signature if you like, that would lend itself well to the
purpose if I could get a small stamp made with it. :wink:



Your arguments are compelling. :wink:

I normally provide a “fact sheet” with my work, describing some
technical aspects of the knot itself, and specifying the quality
of the materials used, color and karat, and including contact
but it probably ends up in the round file fairly
soon after the work goes onto the finger.

My volume is very low at the moment (I’m fortunate in that I
have a regular paycheck and can afford to be a starving artist on
the side) so it’s not as if I had a whole raft of material out
there that people will be puzzling over. I don’t think I’ll do a
"recall" for quality marking, though . . .


Hello Alan and Peter and others who might know,

How are you supposed to mark multi metal work like silver and
gold in the same piece. It is my understanding that you cannot
quality stamp the work in the US if it is not wholly composed of
that quality material. For example you cannot stamp something
14K and Sterling or Plat. and 18K on the same item even if it
has both of those metals in the piece… I have seen work that is
marked this way by designer metalsmiths but never anything by
larger outfits. So does any one have an answer?


James Binnion Metal Arts
4701 San Leandro St #18
Oakland, CA 94601

Shoot me if I am wrong. My understanding is that if an object is
marked with a quality mark it needs to be acompanied by a
trademark. Quite a difference from requiring a quality mark on
everything. Furthermore, for the small or custom manufacturer
this law doesn’t always apply as this law applies to products
that are shipped across state lines. Not goods that are sold
within the state of manufacture. The rest of your arguments sound

Bruce D. Holmgrain
Maryland’s first JA Certified Senior Bench Jeweler

Jim: Could you explain just why you can’t mark a piece that’s say
platinum with 18k trim “plat/l8k?” Are there some regs against