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Who keeps the mold?

When you have a piece cast by another business, who keeps the mold?
I have not had pieces cast very often, and when I did it was done by
commercial casting places in NYC and the mold was always returned to
me with the castings. When I had an important piece cast at a local
jewelry store, they refused to give me back my mold, saying that they
keep it since they made the mold. Is that right?

Whom ever pays for the mold - keeps the mold - if you charged a mold
making fee, go ahead and collect you mold. if not - be sure they
didn’t just roll the cost into the model making cost or casting

you should always try to retain possession of your molds.

Andrew Goodell

When I have made molds for clients, I charged for the process and
returned the mold to them.That seems like the only eithical way to
go. If you were not charged($) for their effort and materials I would
insist on paying and retreive your mold.Or find out thier policy
beforehand.Who knows WHAT they would do with it? Mass produce it or
sell to a manufacture to produce(?) Thomas Blair

No, that is not right. You paid for the mold and it is your
property. Some casting houses like to keep the mold on file so that
it is more convenient if you re-order but any reputable caster should
be willing to return the mold to you. I would be suspecious of, and
not deal with anyone not willing to return the mold to you.

Joel Schwalb

I have done molds for other jewelers and always give them the mold.
To do otherwise would be an act of coercion on the part of the
moldmaker. It’s their attempt to force you to use their casting
service. They may have made the mold, but you paid for them to do it
(I assume). Did you sign anything beforehand that stated they keep
the mold? Did they say anything up front? If not, you might get some
professional legal advice to see if you have a case and then perhaps
take them to small claims court.

JoAnna Kelleher
Pearl Exotics Trading Company

I always offer to return the mold or, if the customers wants, I
store it for them. I will not use the mold to duplicate another
goldsmith’s work. I always charge the customer for making a mold;
therefore, I think it is their property. TBear

This sounds like the way it is normally done from a retail point of
view. The Molding House charges you for the castingsand the mold and
does not want to have to inventory molds, so they send it to you
along with your order. I have often had to fight to have the molding
house hold onto a mold I was using on a regular basis.

Jewelry stores will often fight you for the mold because they want
your business in the future, so obviously they want tohold your mold
hostage. Since most people never ask for the mold (which I
guaranteed you paid for with the order), the jewelry stores are used
to considering them their property.

If you really want your mold back, I would go to the jeweler and
demand it back. Say something like “I paid for this mold as part of
my order. This is to be my own creation and to keep anyone else from
fraudulently using my design I want the mold.” Most jewelers will
understand, but be carefull, they may try to hit you up for
additional $ to take the mold. Remember, the price you paid for the
finished piece obviously included all costs to make the piece,
so the jeweler is not loosing anything by giving you the mold.

The design which you paid this jewelry store to cast is -your-
intellectual property. You certainly have the right to retain
control of it! You should politely, but firmly, request the
immediate return of that mold.

Start with a personal visit to the store. Speak only to the manager
or owner. Take a witness along. Tell the manager that the store’s
reputation is at risk. Tell him (or her) that other jewelers are
asking questions. (We are!) You haven’t revealed the name of the
store yet…and you hope that you won’t have to do so. Chances are
good that you’ll leave with your property.

You paid this store to make a mold of your work. You own the mold,
the castings and the design. There is nothing (either ethical or
lawful) which a contractor can do with that mold, except to make more
castings for -you-. Any other use of the design would be a violation
of your copyright. (Should you learn that the owner of the store
believes otherwise, a letter from your attorney will set him
straight. Most lawyers charge about US$25 to write such a letter.)


Hello All, We make all kinds of molds for many jewelry Artists. If
the Artist wants us to do production work for them it makes sense to
library the mold. We keep molds in a dry cool storage area and are
able to retrieve them rapidly to put them into production. For a
repeat customer like this it is less expensive for them for us to
keep the mold, as long as the design is active and they desire our
services, than to spend for the shipping every time they want a
casting. We follow the customers wishes and return molds even if they
are repeat customers. Some folks just feel more comfortable that way.
For one time mold jobs it is easier for all to return the mold upon
completion of the work. We are now in the process of reorganizing
the mold storage area. We are contacting mold owners we haven’t heard
from in a while. This annual process gives us the room for the
growing number of molds in our care. When something goes wrong with
the injection mold after continuous use, we contact the customer, get
the model, remake the mold for free and return the old mold with the
model upon completion.

There is only one instance I can think of that warrants holding the
mold. If a RETAIL customer commissions a Jeweler to create a design
based on their ideas or wishes, it is the intellectual property of
the Artist. I have seen Designers offer two prices to a customer, one
price for the completed piece without the mold and another for the
completed piece with the mold. There can be quite a difference. In
this instance a possible solution is for the RETAIL customer to hold
half the mold and the Artist hold the other half. What do you think
of that Soloman?

The bottom line is: If the model is yours, the mold is yours. Go get

John, J.A.Henkel Co., Inc., Moldmaking Casting Finishing, Producing
solutions for jewelry Artists

P.S. I am looking for James Carter to return his molds. He seems to
have moved without giving us his new info. Any help at all would be
helpful. You can email me offline if you wish. Thanks.

 When I had an important piece cast at a local jewelry store, they
refused to give me back my mold, saying that they keep it since
they made the mold.  Is that right? 

Hi Jean; That doesn’t sound like typical practice to me. I do trade
work, and when I make a mold for someone, they get the mold, since
I’m charging them for both labor and materials. I sometimes keep the
mold for them so they don’t have to send it back to me if they want
additional castings done. Next time you need something cast for you,
get hold of Daniel Grandi or myself.

David L. Huffman

Hello Jean, Re: When I had an important piece cast at a local
jewelry store, they refused to give me back my mold, saying that
they keep it since they made the mold. Is that right? This doesn’t
sound quite right to me. Whan I had Daniel Grandi (RaceCar Jewelry)
cast for me, he asked me whether I wanted the original master and
mold returned or if I wanted him to store them for me - to make
casting the next round easier. It was my choice. Give Daniel (he’s
an Orchid contributor) a try on your next casting. I was delighted
with the castings he sent me - no pits, each piece fully cast, and
he even used the “deox” sterling. All disclaimers in effect… just
a very satisfied client. Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936