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U.S. hallmarking rule change


#1

In the past there have been numerous questions and replies on Orchid about hallmarking metals.

MJSA was kind enough to send me a complimentary issue of the MJSA Journal (many thanks!) in which there is an interesting article on the subject.

It seems the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has recently revised their rules, and makers can now specify any percentage of gold and silver - there is no longer a restriction for things marked ‘gold’ to be 10K or higher; and a piece can be marked ‘silver’ with any percentage, so long as the marking is accurate. Specifically, one can now mark a piece as 1 karat gold, or 50% silver, where that was previously forbidden.

Some who previously posted about this did want to be able to hallmark along these lines.

The article did question if 1 karat gold should be called ‘gold’ at all.

I wonder when someone will get around to marking a piece as .18K Gold (notice the decimal point - this being less than 1 karat) or silver being marked as 18K Silver to trick buyers who are not familiar with silver hallmarking but who think 18K is high quality like 18K gold.

The article also went into the potential industry headaches when low percentage ‘gold’ jewelry starts turning a wearer’s finger green, when tarnishing and corrosion take place, and when these pieces are brought in for repair.

As a hobbyist this doesn’t concern me, but in the U.S. the rules have changed, and Orchid members should know about it, so I’m passing the information along.


#2

Thank you for this update Neil! Don’t forget that you can not legally stamp an article’s metal content unless you also add a registered trademark. Legally, you don’t need to stamp your piece at all. I have my own stamp but haven’t registered it because I don’t sell my jewelry. I guess I will need to register it if I start selling my pieces.

Here’s the relevant text from the FTC: “The National Stamping Act provides that any person, firm, corporation, or association, being a manufacturer or dealer subject to section 294 of the Act, who applies or causes to be applied a quality mark, or imports any article bearing a quality mark “which indicates or purports to indicate that such article is made in whole or in part of gold or silver or of an alloy of either metal” shall apply to the article the trademark or name of such person. 15 U.S.C. 297.”

Here’s a link to the federal regulation: https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&SID=265aaae49fb78d3d9fed3f357aab6b22&ty=HTML&h=L&mc=true&r=PART&n=pt16.1.23#se16.1.23_10

Here’s a link to the US Customs website: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/342/~/stamping-requirements-for-precious-metal%2C-gold%2C-silver%2C-or-platinum-jewelry


#3

You can register a trademark in your state of residence as well as with the USPTO. State registrations are generally quicker and less expensive.