Stamping Act Basics

March 1999

Managing:Legal Issues

Stamping Act Basics

Jewelers who wish to remind customers they abide by the Gold and Silver Stamping Act of 1906 can use the following reminder in the form of a sign or handout at their stores. Such notices are one more way responsible jewelers can reinforce to customers why shopping in a reputable jewelry store is preferable to buying from operators where the deal looks too good to be true.

Jewelers also can use the notice below to train sales associates about the Gold and Silver Stamping Act and its requirements.

Karat Gold and Sterling Silver: Our Pledge to You

The U.S. government, through the Gold and Silver Stamping Act of 1906, requires that all jewelry and related items marked karat gold or sterling silver be accompanied by the manufacturer's trademark. We guarantee all our products comply with all of the law's requirements, which are:

  • Items may not be stamped with the words "United States assay" or any other words that could give the impression the U.S. government has certified the karat fineness or quality of the item. There is no such system in the U.S. and it is misleading to suggest there is. Each maker of fine jewelry is individually responsible for stamping its trademark next to the karat mark or sterling silver mark on a piece of jewelry or silverware. The jewelry industry, with the help of its watchdog group, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, is responsible for identifying underkarating or missing trademarks by makers or sellers of gold and silver. Our store regularly monitors the marketplace and reports violators to the JVC and consumer protection agencies.
  • If a karat mark – such as "14k" – is stamped on the piece or used in any way in connection with its sale, the actual amount of gold used cannot be less by more than 3/1,000 parts the karatage indicated by the mark. In other words, 14 karat gold must contain very close to that amount of gold (combined with other metals routinely used to give a piece strength and durability). If a piece is marked 18k or 22k, it must contain almost exactly that amount of gold (combined with lesser amounts of other metals for strength and durability).
  • If a piece of silver is marked "sterling" or "sterling silver," it must be at least 925/1,000 parts pure silver.
  • If an item is goldplated, goldfilled or gold- or silver-electroplated, the words gold or silver must be modified to indicate that. These contain much less gold and silver than karat gold or sterling silver and it is illegal not to so inform consumers.
  • If a karat mark is stamped on a piece, that mark must be accompanied by a registered trademark or the name of the manufacturer who made the piece. (It's important to remember, however, that gold and silver jewelry and other items may legally be sold without identifying their gold or silver content, as long as they're not advertised or promoted as "karat gold" or "sterling silver." When a piece of gold or silver jewelry is unmarked, however, consumers should definitely assume such items are not karat gold or sterling silver.)

Any manufacturer or seller of jewelry who knowingly violates the Gold and Silver Stamping Act by selling gold or silver items that are not in compliance with the act's requirements is subject to criminal prosecution in federal district court and could be fined, jailed or both.


Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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