In the US at least, the term "handmade" has been defined to some
degree by the FTC, and many on the list have been trying to
disect/critique/interpret the FTC definition. I am not an expert on
FTC guidelines governing jewelry, but unless there is additional
verbiage which I missed, the FTC's rule is that
(a) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by
implication, that any industry product is hand-made or hand-wrought
unless the entire shaping and forming of such product from raw
materials and its finishing and decoration were accomplished by hand
labor and manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to
control and vary the construction, shape, design, and finish of each
part of each individual product.
Note to paragraph (a): As used herein, "raw materials"
include bulk sheet, strip, wire, and similar items that have
not been cut, shaped, or formed into jewelry parts,
semi-finished parts, or blanks.
(b) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by
implication, that any industry product is hand-forged,
hand-engraved, hand-finished, or hand-polished, or has been
otherwise hand-processed, unless the operation described was
accomplished by hand labor and manually-controlled methods which
permit the maker to control and vary the type, amount, and effect of
such operation on each part of each individual product.
I think that it is important to note two things about the FTC rule;
first, the note listing "raw materials" under section (a) is clearly
inclusive rather than exhaustive, hence the use of the term
"include" and the qualifying phrase
and similar items that have not been cut, shaped, or formed into
jewelry parts, semi-finished parts, or blanks.
Based on this language, I don't see how the FTC's definition of
handmade excludes cast items, so long as the entire shaping and
forming of such product from raw materials (e.g., casting grain)
and it's finishing and decoration are accomplished by hand labor and
manually controlled methods which permit the maker to control and
vary the construction, shape, design and finish of each part of each
If you want to condense the FTCs rule, you could do so by saying
that it is deceptive to represent a piece of jewelry as hand made
unless the person who made it began with raw materials and used hand
labor and hand-controlled methods which allowed him/her complete
control of the design, shape and finish of every part of the
finished product. This excludes multiple castings from the same
mold, but would not exclude one-of-a-kind cast pieces, nor would it
exlude fabricated pieces with cast elements as long as the cast
element itself was one-of-a-kind rather than mass manufactured.
Or so it seems to me. Does anyone have it in writing, explicitly, ex
cathedra and from the FTC, that no item which was created in whole
or in part by means of lost wax casting, may under any circumstance
be described as "hand made?"
I have to ask, because my common-sense reading of the FTC rule in
this regard is that it includes any method, either hand-labor or
manually controlled, which allows the artist complete control of the
design, construction, shape and finish of each individual piece, and
that is really not a bad definition of "handmade."