Written code of ethics for jewelers

Hello everyone!

I have been an artist all my life, but making silver and copper
jewelry for about a year and lurking for about the same amount of
time. The I have gained from this community is
priceless! Thank you all for being so open, giving, honest and

My question is this:

Is there a code of ethics that jewelers follow? I ask this question
because there is someone stealing designs from students and fellow
teachers and selling as their own original design. This hurts the
open creative atmosphere of sharing.

I told my teacher I would make a “Code of Ethics” poster to hang in
the studio, for those who are first learning and for those who need
to read it, but after surfing the Internet, I failed to come up with
one. I checked the archives but didn’t find anything.

Any help or advice you can give will be greatly appreciated!

Alis Jordan
Fort Myers, FL

There are a number of jewelry organizations that have a code of
ethics (AGTA, JVC, JA) but I’m not sure any of them directly address
what you are talking about. Maybe you should just make a copy of the
Federal government’s website regarding copyright and post that.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

It’s every man (or woman) for himself out there! lol Just kidding.
But seriously, it is.

Stanley Bright

Although this is certainly a matter of ethics, you should be aware
that it’s also a matter of law. An original design is copyrighted as
soon as it’s embodied in a tangible form, whether in metal or just
on paper. Using it without permission is illegal.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

You know, Alis,

Let’s not just stop with the written code of ethics for jewelers.
Please pardon me if this comes across as a rant, but I’m still
recovering from seeing an instance of what MIGHT be an infringement
on my logo this past weekend. I’ve just barely gotten started with
“advertising” and having my stuff in the public domain although I’ve
been working on it for a long time. I probably wouldn’t even have my
website up yet if it hadn’t been for the strong encouragement of my
husband. I wasn’t ready, but then again, he knows me well enough to
know that I tend to let things marinate a little longer than perhaps
they need to. Hence, my stuff (logo, text, etc.) is “out.”

I made a spur of the moment decision to attend an art show/fair this
weekend. -not really much there, that is, not more than about 15
booths. -and not many jewelry vendors, surprisingly. Lo and behold, I
stumbled across the booth of a jewelry designer/artist with a “logo”
VEERRRRY similar to mine. Scary similar to mine. The extent to which
her “logo” was similar really shook me to my core. -funny, my
adrenaline is up right now and my heart is racing just writing about
it. I am SO proud of myself that I didn’t show any kind of reaction.
I just picked up her business card, kept “shopping,” and kept my
cool! I guess there really was no “reaction” to be had given that
confronting her wouldn’t have served a purpose at that point.

The sharp-toothed business woman in me says that the design
similarities couldn’t be a coincidence, and then the regular everyday
human being part of me wants to give her the benefit of the doubt. I
did some research on her and found references to her as a jewelry
artist, but found no prior association, use of, or reference to any
of what I saw her using at the fair. Of course I expected that in
time, in some form or another, intentional or not, something like
this might happen, especially given that I’m ONLY referencing THE
periodic table. However, my complete design is indeed “unique” and
strong as I was told by my attorney, and I know for a fact that my
logo has been approved for trademark registration, and I am hopefully
in the home stretch of the entire process. In any case, I really
wonder here, and am currently consulting with my attorney about the
whole thing.

It boggles my mind that people copy! Yeah, I know better, and I know
it’s been done throughout history in a variety of media, but it still
dumbfounds me. I put a LOT of time, effort, creative energy,
RESEARCH, and money into my logo and have the design seed, path and
paper trail to back it up, and it pisses me off that somebody just up
and “has it.” Sounds a little naive sure, but I tend to dream of an
ideal world----at the same time though, I ain’t steeyuuupid, and I
trust no one (and I jokingly smile as I say this—NOT TO BE TAKEN

So I, personally, am not aware of a General Code of Ethics for (all)
jewelers, but generally speaking a “code of ethics” should just
simply be exercising common sense, courtesy and respect for other
creative beings who have obviously taken the time to nurture an idea
and bring it to fruition (and this is in any field. oh, and did I
mention that I long for an ideal world???). I’ve made many a “copy”
of a design throughout my learning process from a variety of books
and magazines, and as I go on learning this craft I will continue to;
however, I’d never claim the item as my own design. Even if
permission has been granted to restyle and sell the piece, I’d feel
like I was copying if I didn’t give credit to the originator of the
design or idea (this is just the way I, personally, feel about it).
Otherwise, I usually either give the piece away (if it comes out
ok). my mom LOVES this, scrap it for meltdown or refining, or just
keep it. I just really like the idea of challenging my own creativity
and seeing where an idea takes me. I don’t even subscribe to all the
periodicals that I used to for this reason—I don’t want to directly
be influenced by other people’s designs. Nothing wrong with viewing
other work for the purpose of being inspired, but I just like to
focus on what I have in my creative bank more than anything else.

I know there have been similar threads in the past dealing with this
issue, but I think the visceral energy that was pent up inside from
this weekend just needed to come out, and I needed to share with
people I thought might understand. I normally would have just stayed
quiet and not posted this at all as I tend toward the private side
most of the time on such things, but this whole issue of copying just
really bugs me. It seems that if one is creative enough to do jewelry
(whatever that REALLY means), they should be creative enough to come
up with their own ideas and design their own stuff. jewelry or
otherwise. General processes and methods are one thing (unless
they’re prohibited from use by the claim of a patent), but somebody
else’s designs? Come on! However, I do acknowledge that people do
somehow end up with similar “styles,” etc. based on who taught them,
how they were taught—or just because it happens. Oversimplification
of the issue, I know.

Thanks for letting me rant. Not meaning to start any kind of
brouhaha on the forum. just still kind of stunned from this weekend.
I’ll get over it soon, I know. I think I’m ready to take up archery
now like I had been planning to do. ONLY for the mental/physical
challenge, focus, and release, of course. :slight_smile:

Tamra M. Gentry


Normally I just keep quiet about most of these things, but have you
stopped to consider that it’s not an infringement of your logo. I
obviously haven’t seen this woman’s, but I have seen yours, and while
I think it’s a fantastic logo, and obviously very apropro, I wouldn’t
have said that it was highly original. Coming from a bit of a
chemistry background, I too have thought about using the silver
periodic table motif somehow, and if I’ve thought of it, other people
probably have as well. Perhaps it might merit a bit more research
into the general situation. I know it’s a bit disappointing (or
heartbreaking?) to see something similar to what you’ve put a lot of
effort into, but people do often have similar ideas, especially if
it’s a bit more of an obvious connection.

Just my two cents worth.

Robin Cassady-Cain.

something like this might happen, especially given that I'm ONLY
referencing THE periodic table. 

I looked at your website and, even though I’m going to probably get
pounced by the forum, I wanted to offer up an opinion…your designs
are unique and beautiful, your website is well-thought-out and
effective. Any logo, anywhere with the letter ag in it would be
somewhat similar to your logo. Anyone in the US, by the time they
have gone thru about 5th grade, is quite familiar with the letters ag
and what they mean. You were inspired by the Periodic Table when you
designed your logo. The artist you ran across at the show was also
inspired by the Periodic Table. If you choose to use a symbol so
universal as your logo, someone else is bound to as well.

However, my complete design is indeed "unique" and strong as I was
told by my attorney, 

It’s unique, but, unfortunately, not original. It’s actually kind of
universal. I’m skeptical about your attorney saying the design was
strong. I’m not an attorney, but I don’t know how you would go about
protecting 2 letters that have been used in this way for such a long
time. My first thought on it was that your attorney may have said
something like “well, my fees up until now amount to 1200 dollars
and your logo is really unique…did I mention that my fee is 1200
dollars? yeah, beautiful work and my fee is 1200 dollars, did I
mention that?”

and I know it's been done throughout history in a variety of media,
but it still dumbfounds me. 

Then why are people continually so shocked when it happens again?

I tend to dream of an ideal world---- 

It’s far from ideal and if you want to swim with the big fish, you
have to think one fin ahead of them, all the time.

I've made many a "copy" of a design throughout my learning process
from a variety of books and magazines, and as I go on learning this
craft I will continue to; 

How can you complain about copying if you copy?

I was at a show once where I struck up a talk with an exhibitor. She
launched into a 40 minute diatribe about how so-and-so had copied
her signature colors (robin’s egg blue and chocolate brown). Now,
anyone who knows what a Vera Bradley is knows that color combo is far
from new. Not to mention the fact that a color combination cannot be
“owned” by anyone. If the woman spent 1/3 as much energy into coming
up with ideas to effectively run and grow her business, she would not
have any time to worry who was copying her signature color. She would
be spending too much time counting her money.

I really wish you the best of luck with everything you do. You will
be successful, no doubt about it…but it’s the originality of your
beautiful jewelry that will do that for you, not anything else.

Kim Starbard

So I looked at your website and you’re using the periodic table
symbol for silver for your logo and you think this is an original
idea? Come on. Jewelers have been using the periodic symbols for
metals in all sorts of ways–in their advertisements, trademarks,
jewelry— for the last hundred years. This is a little like someone
trying to claim copyright on a half round ring.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

No disrespect, but your logo looks like it was cut out of a periodic
table. That is, it has the number 47, Ag and silver on it. It is not
impossible that others would use similar such themes, since they are
in every science class from school…

Hans Meevis

Hi Alis,

I think that this is the perfect place to create such a document.
I’d love to post it where I teach also, though I have not seen such a
dilemma as you speak of.

Here are a few suggestions from me. I think that within a short
time, we will have enough suggestions for folks to collect the ones
that they like, and folks can share their collections…

Create your own designs. Never copy. When excited by another
person’s design, use that inspiration to create a variation. Thou
shalt not steal.

Hmmm. This seems to be getting me thinking about other issues of
sharing a studio. Here are some more ideas about group studios:

When borrowing a tool, be sure to return it promptly, and in
condition as good as when borrowed, or better.

When sharing a studio, keep shared spaces neat and clean. Clean up,
even if it is not your mess----you might forget to clean up
occasionally, too.

Be quick to compliment; be slow to complain and criticize.

No whining allowed. If there is a problem, work to find the
solution, rather than simply complain.

Well, gotta get back to work, now. I look forward to reading other
folks’ thoughts on this thread.

Cynthia Eid

Your logo reminds me fo a time a few decades ago when I was looking
into renting a space on Auburn Avenue with a partner. We would call
ourselves Auburn Jewelers. Then we were going to use Au for our

Another partner I had got AG AU PT for his license plate.

I don’t think that it is too uncommon for people to try to
incorporate Latin symbols for the metals that we work in for our

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Benchjeweler

Thanks for all the feedback both on and off-list. Never a dull
moment on this forum. I’ll make another few points of clarification
and then leave it here.

In my original post, I used what I thought was a little bit of
sarcastic humor in saying that “I’m ONLY using THE periodic table,”
and considered myself to be taking a crack at the fact that no, the
periodic table is by no means new or original. That goes without
saying. My issue is not that someone else is using the reference to
the periodic table. Um, for the sake of clarity let me repeat that
because it wasn’t so clear in my original post: My issue is not that
someone else is using the reference to the periodic table.

I created, with the help of the graphics company who brought all the
elements together (no pun intended), the complete picture, quite
literally, that is my logo. The issue is that certain design elements
from the logo were used that could possibly cause confusion. As I’ve
seen before on this forum, there have been instances where much
larger companies and brands will run you through the ringer for using
any HINTS of similarities to their products, logos or brands. As a
small business owner, why should I behave any differently if I have
chosen to use a certain “mark,” and have taken a number of strongly
recommended business-related steps to secure its use the way I
intend? This is a lot different than just “playing around with it,”
or having “thought about” using it. The point is that, by the books,
the trademarked process on it is almost complete, and according to
the extensive trademark searches I had professionally done prior to,
no other such complete picture/design had been registered. I
registered it and am entitled to all that goes along with that
whether or not I choose to pursue certain possible intentional or
unintentional infringement issues when and if they occur. Without
having to dig out the paperwork at the moment (it’s way past my
bedtime), I do believe that there were a couple of jewelry-related
companies using “Ag” in their logos however, the designs of their
logos bore no similarities whatsoever to mine nor mine to theirs.

The “unique” and “strong” references are, as I was informed by more
than one attorney and through my own research, factors considered by
the USPTO with regard to whether they are likely to either approve or
object to a design submitted for registration.

The whole issue with regard to trademarking and infringement is the
potential for confusion among the customers of merchants using
similar designs and/or elements. So, the periodic table reference by
itself, heck no-I was aware of this throughout the process, and
before finalizing my logo. Design elements/complete design, another
story, no matter how basic the font or color. And because I wasn’t
sure about the extent to which this is the case and can cause
problems with what I intend for my business, I did consult (and am
still in consultation with) my attorneys, and I trust their judgment
as I am not the expert. Based on what they say, I’ll determine
whether or not it’s worth considering further-most of the time, it
probably won’t be. I think that any prudent business person building
a business would/should seek such advice. That’s what the resources
are for.

Why did I even bother to use the PT reference and not my name or
something less “common”? Like a lot of you who’ve considered it
because I liked it, and I connected with it; and despite my business
plans I want to help make the connection accessible for other
people-gag if you want, but a lot of this has to do with my
educational background and some significant things that I experienced
in the process. I love the reaction I get when I explain the PT
reference to people and tell them how enjoyable chemistry and
physics are; or, I love just helping to refresh their memories and
recollections of chemistry. AND, it’s funny because despite
assumptions (including some of my own), a lot of people don’t
automatically “get it,” and I’m talking about all kinds of people
including people who may have not liked or altogether hated
chemistry, people who simply might not have paid attention in
chemistry class from grades five on up, and people who have
university degrees from major universities.

Bringing this part to a close, if the woman had done something a
little different than what I saw, I probably would have given her the
old Hustler’s Handshake and hug, a nice warm smile, and told her how
happy I was that she, too, is a member of the PT Push.

Moving on, my quote about copying for the purpose of learning was
exactly this: “I’ve made many a ‘copy’ of a design through my
learning process from a variety of books and magazines, and as I go
on learning this craft I will continue to; however, I’d never claim
the item as my own design. Even if permission has been granted to
restyle and sell the piece, I’d feel like I was copying if I didn’t
give credit to the originator of the design or idea.Otherwise, I
usually either give the piece away.scrap it for meltdown or refining,
or just keep it.”

The designs that I “copy” are better referred to as processes,
techniques and projects solely for the sake of learning (e.g., from
Lapidary Journal mag and others). I likewise have a library of
excellent books and articles with projects intended for learning that
I will continue to use, and when I pass these freebies off to family
members after I feel I’ve learned something sufficiently, I move on
to learn something else. The recipients of these things know that the
“gift” is nothing but a learning project for me-half the time I tell
them to not even wear the item in public because I don’t want to be
associated with something that wasn’t my own, especially as I advance
in skill level. I do not sell these things and/or claim them as my
own, which I think was Alis’s orginial issue with the copier she
mentioned. There is the exception of things like certain common
handwoven, handmade chains and many other standard industry

To Alis: I had originally considered posting my “rant” under your
thread because it referenced the issue of copying, but then decided
not to as I didn’t feel it was appropriate to detract from your
specific question. I did create a new post called “Piggybacking off
of the Written Code of Ethics” because I had the feeling that my post
might end up leading yours in a different direction. Unfortunately,
my thread did get merged with yours and as a result, I don’t know if
you’ve received all the feedback you hoped to get.

People, please respond to Alis’s post! If you want to address my
issue, please pick up a new thread! I’m SO over it, but knock
yourselves out.

Again, I appreciate all the feedback.

I think I might go now and focus my efforts on acquiring a copyright
for the half-round ring. :slight_smile:

Tamra M. Gentry

Here in Seattle there was a gallery called Ag 47…


Hello Tamra –

I do have sympathy for your position, but would like to offer
another point of view.

I went to your site and looked at your logo. As a graphic designer,
I’d have to say (contrary to your attorney’s opinion) that your logo
is not especially strong or unique. I only point this out because it
is relevant to the question of whether you were copied or whether it
was a coincidence that the logos were similar.

What are your design elements? Initials in a box, indicative of the
periodic table. So far, not too unique. I assume that “ag” refers to
argentinium silver. Your mark is promoting the MATERIAL rather than
YOU as a jeweler. (And you could conceivably have a problem with the
people who own the rights to this alloy, as you seem to be
suggesting ownership of it with your mark?) Had you been my client,
I would have done my best to steer you away from promoting a
specific material and tying yourself to it, rather than promoting
yourself as a unique individual/artist/jeweler. (“Tamra”-- your
name-- is unusual and beautiful, that wouldn’t be a bad starting
point for a trademark…)

But, as you’ve come this far, that doesn’t mean you can’t protect
your mark if you wish to. Send the woman in question a polite cease
and desist letter with a copy of your mark and point out you are
registering it. Don’t assume that she deliberately copied you. Any
number of people can, and do, come up with very similar ideas and
designs. (You yourself said that because you based it on the
periodic table you expected something like this to happen sooner or

C Rose


("Tamra"-- your name-- is unusual and beautiful, that wouldn't be a
bad starting point for a trademark...) 

Thanks so much for making this point. I wasn’t able to convey this
as effectively as you have. This is exactly the reason why the
stationary/logo company I work with (In Good Company Designs in
Guilford, CT) thought it would be a good idea for me to use my name
and link it with a starfish…Starbard/starfish, get it?..possibly
Kstar…K followed by a starfish followed by S for a logo…It all
kinda ties together and I don’t worry at all that someone else might
have a similar logo because I have not run across any other Kim
Starbard’s. Shouldn’t one’s logo, trademark, etc be as unique as
one’s work?

But, as you've come this far, that doesn't mean you can't protect
your mark if you wish to. Send the woman in question a polite
cease and desist letter with a copy of your mark and point out you
are registering it. 

This was the part that originally worried me. Chances are pretty
high that someone else is going to or already is using a ref to the
Periodic Table. Isn’t it much more costly to consider the possibility
of having to defend (possibly over and over) than to just pick
something that others would not be so likely to use? Why put yourself
through all the extra expense and trouble?

Now, don’t anybody go changing your name to Kim Starbard…or Katie
Starfish…or Kevin Starburger…

Kim Starbard

Moving on, my quote about copying for the purpose of learning was
exactly this: "I've made many a 'copy' of a design through my
learning process from a variety of books and magazines, and as I
go on learning this craft I will continue to; however, I'd never
claim the item as my own design. 

Unless I am completely reading this the wrong way, you see a design
you like in a book or magazine, you make a copy of it so you can
learn, and then you sell it (possibly if it comes out good and your
relatives don’t want it) but when you sell it, you tell the buyer
that it was someone else’s design originally?

In a made up scenario, my name is Greg Gregory and I am a jeweler.
I’m a g.g. I design a logo and put it on my business card and jewelry
stamp and everything. If there are other graduate gemologists out
there putting g.g. after their name (on their card) do I have a right
to claim that, because I decided to get the first copyright, the
other graduate gemologists out there cannot use g.g. on their
business card etc? My case seems good. My name is Greg Gregory. G.G
or g.g. is pretty unique to me. My lawyer’s not a jeweler and he’s
never even heard the words graduate gemologist before I told them
what the letters meant. I’m not attempting to be flippant. I wanted
to come up with a good example so I could convey my point. This may
not be a good example. Do you see what I mean though? If anyone else
can come up with a better example, I would love it if you would help
me out. As I was trying to say in my other post, isn’t it pretty
costly to keep having to defend one’s logo/trademark? Might a jeweler
pick a symbol (from the outset) that is pretty rarely

Kim Starbard

registering it. Don't assume that she deliberately copied you. Any
number of people can, and do, come up with very similar ideas and 

There is another company that has the same as mine. I didn’t know
this when I chose it. The other person is out of state. So one day,
I’m doing a show, and a man comes up and says, do you have a
sterling (male jewels)? Whoa, what a weird question.

Turns out, we discovered years later, the other company of the same
name specializes in naked people and naughty bits in sterling. Always
good to choose a name that won’t limit you in the future and that
isn’t associated with something you don’t wish to be associated with.

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Hello Kim

Now, don't anybody go changing your name to Kim Starbard...or
Katie Starfish...or Kevin Starburger... 

What about Starbucks? Can you make a case? :slight_smile: As to the rest of your
post I agree 100%! This idea of the periodic table lacks most of the
components of a logo; originality, uniqueness, recognizability and
reproductability. Well, it might fill the last requirement as it
seems to be easy to duplicate onto most media. Many thing have been
said about this logo so I will not dwell on it BUT the most
prominent item is ‘Ag’, at a quick glance you’ll hardly even register
the small print ‘jewelrydesign’.

Regarding Tamra’s Logo:

Tamra, your logo is beautiful. A logo that matches your personality
and your work can be difficult to create. As a fellow artist, I can
only imagine the stabbing pain of shock you felt when you saw another
logo so similar to yours, and I truly sympathize with your bruised

On the other hand, as a former formally-schooled commercial artist
familiar with intellectual property and copyright law, I wish I could
have told you that all the effort to research and copyright your logo
would only protect you if someone copied it directly – same colors,
same typeface.

That is because the symbol from the periodic table of elements is
universal, and because it is the dominant motif of your logo, it will
be virtually unenforceable. Adding the word silver, selecting an
attractive typeface and choosing an elegant color scheme will not be
significant enough to stand up in a court of law as a unique design.

You can easily copyright it, but I would be surprised if you could
trademark it. Even if you were successful in getting a trademark, you
could still be open to financial trouble if you pursued it in court,
where the outcome would be uncertain and the costs potentially
enormous. My brother, an attorney, laughed when I asked him about
your chances of prevailing. (Those callous attorneys!)

BTW, I saw a similar logo in Tucson recently and it wasn’t nearly as
cool as yours. Your logo, website and jewelry are terrific.

Blaire Beavers

Elaine Luther, et al!

when I registered my setting/consulting company many years ago. It
was registered for ALL OF ONTARIO and also for the rest of Canada,
hence no chance of duplication! Yes, there is a GEMS…(something) but
no “GEMZ…”,

so I can now rest assured no problems will, or can arrise…Gerry!