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That pesky stamping law


Yes, the annoying US stamping law has reared its ugly head again,
and is making me nuts. I’ve gone through the Orchid archives and my
answer isn’t there. I’ve also emailed extensively with some
government drone, and the “official” response is at the end of this
email. I’d love to hear how this line should be stamped in the UK,
as well.

I’m trying to decide how (or how not) to stamp my work. My line is
comprised of .999 platinum gauze and wire, and 24kt gold. There is
no other metal or solder, just the two “pure” metals, fused, welded,
and cold connected. How would you stamp this line?

Logic tell me to stamp it, in the same area where I sign it, “.999Pt
24kt”. However, I’m told this is illegal, unless the piece is
essentially two parts, such as a platinum item with a gold dangle.
In that case, I’ve been told to stamp each part appropriately.

Since the platinum and gold are not separate, the “official” answer
to my stamping question is that I may either determine the total
gold content, and stamp 14kt or 10kt if I can meet those karating
levels, I may stamp “goldfill”, or I may leave the work unstamped.
(On a bright note, the government apparently has no problem with me
hand-signing work, instead of using a registered mark.)

Needless to say, I’m NOT going to stamp 14kt, 10kt, or goldfill.
Legally, my only choice seems to be not stamping at all. Anyone have
any opinions or suggestions?

Karen Hemmerle Boulder, CO


Karen, I think you should follow your logic, unfortunately as we all
know the government is not logical so we have to do what is right.
I have not read the stamping law in years but I would not just accept
what a government employee who does not understand jewelry would
say. The consumer wants to know what the metal is that he or she is
buying and that is what I put on all of my work. The highest
content first and so on, ie: st.sil/14k/22k always next to my logo
stamp. You do have my curiosity peaked so I am going to try to find
my stamping law in the dungeons where all the old records are that we
have to keep for the government.

Bill Wismar

       Needless to say, I'm NOT going to stamp 14kt, 10kt, or
goldfill. Legally, my only choice seems to be not stamping at all.
Anyone  have any opinions or suggestions? 

I prefer to use the test of whether the average person, reading your
stamps, could easily and logically determine what the piece is made
of. This, after all, is the purpose of the stamps. Our lines are
quite often two tone with platinum parts mixed (welded or soldered
to) 18K yellow gold. I see no problem with simply marking the work,
next to the trademark, with both the platinum and 18K stamps. Anyone
who knows enough about jewelry to understand what Karat actually is,
likely can determine that the two stamps denote two metals in use,
and that the yellow one is not the platinum part.

Obviously, the law is not well written to cover every concievable
situation. So start not with the exact wording, but rather the
intent of the law, and use common sense. The authorities will have
no problem at all with this approach, and I’ve seen the same approach
widely used on other two tone commercially made lines also using
platinum and gold. The intent of the law is simple: Give the
consumer an accurate idea of just what the piece is made of, specify
the tolerances of quality definitions, and require that the maker
who’s claiming a given metal quality can be identified. If your work
is such a complex mix that you cannot stamp it in a manner that is
clear to common sense, then put in only your trademark, and use a
"hang tag" or some similar device to more thoroughly describe the

Remember that karat or metal quality stamps are never required under
U.S. law, unless you’re also making a point of selling the item as
some particular metal quality. The main points are that IF you mark
the quality, you then must also mark the trademark, and that if you
mark the quality, then the metal purities much fall within the legal
standards for that mark. But common sense has always had a place in
the law, and this is no different. If your piece doesn’t have
obvious construction of two metals, and a consumer could easily
misconstrue the marks to mean something other than the truth, then
you’re better off not marking the quality of the metal. And if the
construction can be better described in a descriptive paragraph on a
hang tag, then do it that way. This IS, actually legal to do. Put
your trademark on the hang tag too. The hang tag need only be of
such a nature that you can be reasonably sure that the final
consumer will get it and can see it and read it at the time of
purchase. It need not be permanently attaached to the item.



Karen, Some of my rings are made with pure platinum and 18K gold,
worked into one knot together. I seldom stamp such pieces at all, or
just with my initials, since I’ve never been able to figure out what
it ought to get.

On the other hand, every piece is instantly identifiable, and is
accompanied by paperwork that describes its composition in
reasonable detail, so the customer is not left in the dark.


(On a bright note, the government apparently has no problem with

The law states that all the marks must be consistent. So, if you
hand sign the work then do the quality marks by hand, too.
Otherwise, you are technically in violation.

Trademarks don’t have to be registered to be used. In fact, you
can’t even register a trademark until it’s been used for 1 year.

Happy stamping!


Stamping laws are complicated, but your scenario is clear cut. You
have used two identifiable metals, .999 platinum which you can
identify with pt or plat, and 24k gold which you can identify with
24K. It is permissible to identify more than one metal in jewelry.
Had the platinum you used been a 90/10 type of metal (10% alloy),
you would have to stamp 90/10.

    The law states that all the marks must be consistent.  So, if
you hand sign the work then do the quality marks by hand, too. 

IANAL but this makes no sense to me and I doubt there is any law to
back it up.

    Trademarks don't have to be registered to be used. 

Very true.

 In fact, you can't even register a trademark until it's been used
for 1 year. 

Very FALSE. You can register with only “intent to use” but you don’t
get full rights/finality till you do have the mark in use and have
certified that in writing with examples. There is absolutely no “1
year” federal requirement as you can clearly see by reading the
federal law here It
is remotely possible that some state may have a “1 year” law for that
state’s trademark registration but I doubt it since it makes
interferences and chicanery much more probable and possible.

James E. White Inventor, Marketer, and Author of “Will It Sell? How to
Determine If Your Invention Is Profitably Marketable (Before Wasting
Money on a Patent)”


I have a question related to this subject. I work primarily with
gold and silver. But occasionally, I will have a piece that
incorporates silver and brass and/or copper. Do I need to stamp for
brass and copper?

JoAnna Kelleher, Director of Operations
Pearl Exotics Trading Company