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Handmade Jewelry
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"Handmade" has a legal definition for items made from certain materials, all precious metals included. It also applies to any jewelry item, precious metals or not. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Chapter I, Subchapter B, Part 23, Section 23.3 and supporting documentation state:

16 CFR 23.3 - Misuse of the terms "hand-made," "hand-polished," etc.

(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, precious metal clays, ingots, casting grain, and similar items that have not been cut, shaped, or formed into jewelry parts, semi-finished parts, or blanks.

CFR, Title 16, Chapter I, Subchapter B, Part 23, Section 23.0 defines the scope of this regulation:

23.0 Scope and application.

(a) These guides apply to jewelry industry products, which include, but are not limited to, the following: gemstones and their laboratory-created and imitation substitutes; natural and cultured pearls and their imitations; and metallic watch bands not permanently attached to watches. These guides also apply to articles, including optical frames, pens and pencils, flatware, and hollowware, fabricated from precious metals (gold, silver and platinum group metals), precious metal alloys, and their imitations. These guides also apply to all articles made from pewter. For the purposes of these guides, all articles covered by these guides are defined as "industry products."

(b) These guides apply to persons, partnerships, or corporations, at every level of the trade (including but not limited to manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers) engaged in the business of offering for sale, selling, or distributing industry products.

Note to paragraph (B):
To prevent consumer deception, persons, partnerships, or corporations in the business of appraising, identifying, or grading industry products should utilize the terminology and standards set forth in the guides.

(c) These guides apply to claims and representations about industry products included in labeling, advertising, promotional materials, and all other forms of marketing, whether asserted directly or by implication, through words, symbols, emblems, logos, illustrations, depictions, product brand names, or through any other means.

(d) These guides set forth the Federal Trade Commission's current thinking about claims for jewelry and other articles made from precious metals and pewter. The guides help marketers and other industry members avoid making claims that are unfair or deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45. They do not confer any rights on any person and do not operate to bind the FTC or the public. The Commission, however, may take action under the FTC Act if a marketer or other industry member makes a claim inconsistent with the guides. In any such enforcement action, the Commission must prove that the challenged act or practice is unfair or deceptive in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

(e) The guides consist of general principles, specific guidance on the use of particular claims for industry products, and examples. Claims may raise issues that are addressed by more than one example and in more than one section of the guides. The examples provide the Commission's views on how reasonable consumers likely interpret certain claims. Industry members may use an alternative approach if the approach satisfies the requirements of Section 5 of the FTC Act. Whether a particular claim is deceptive will depend on the net impression of the advertisement, label, or other promotional material at issue. In addition, although many examples present specific claims and options for qualifying claims, the examples do not illustrate all permissible claims or qualifications under Section 5 of the FTC Act.

"Holy legalese, Batman!! Is hand-made the same as handmade and hand made?!"

"Yes, Robin. Unless it's hand maid, which is something else entirely."

"Then why do so many sellers lie about their products?"

"Because honesty, integrity, intelligence, and common sense are foreign concepts to them. We should pity and educate them despite the backlash and hatred that will be directed towards us."

See another few blogs about handmade jewelry here and here.

Every jewelry item is covered under this statute! Further, this regulation applies to any item made of precious metals or pewter. This working man's intro should precede a visit to the webpage to see it firsthand.

It states no automated processes are allowed and it can only be made from bulk sheet, strip, wire, precious metal clays, ingots, casting grain, and similar items. Unless all parts are handmade from said raw components, the completed piece isn't handmade.

Think about it...which pieces are likely to be machine-made? Jump rings, findings, chains or extender sections, clasps, blanks, ear wires, connectors, bezels, settings, beads, anything pre-formed or manufactured, and on and on. Now you are beginning to understand how entrenched the handmade lie is.

There's no special clause or exclusion; either it meets the legal definition or not. Fraudulent information persists because most sellers interpret handmade however they want and it ain't what the law states.

This statute doesn't forbid tools. It's how they're used that matters. Making one-off beads on a lathe is quite different than a CNC machine popping out a genetic match every second. If it's manually controlled then it is handmade.

Some of the most spectacular jewelry can't be handmade.
A recent forum post mentioned this regulation and the response was extreme. The consensus seemed to be to ignore the law and lampoon the person who posted it. One member quipped "Who cares?!" Well, one universal trait that everyone shares, perhaps the singular principle humans collectively embrace, is that we hate being conned. No matter the item, culture, race, or religion it will always hold true. Such a statement is insulting to human decency.

Handmade is challenging to find. It's not a badge of shame if it isn't. Some of the most spectacular jewelry can't be handmade. What about the other issues regarding its origin like falsified hallmarks, fake metals, conflict materials, or made by slave, forced, or child labor? When does the acquisition, production, or sale of an item cross the line of decency?

When everyone is forthcoming and truthful it will showcase the beauty of all types of metalworking. However, illegal selling tactics should never be part of the experience. Liken it to saying a preservative- and GMO-laden frozen microwave TV dinner is a home-cooked organic meal made from scratch by Julia Childs. It's not semantics or nitpicking. It's the law!

The unfortunate conclusion is this: If you see "claimed" handmade jewelry, 99%+ of the time it isn't, especially maille. Over the years, I have seen two or three chainmaille artists with legitimate handmade goods even though thousands make the claim.

What about those who just learned of the law? I followed a significant number and not one of them changed anything except becoming more defiant and illogical. That's a lot of fraud and scammers in such a small industry! The jewelry trade is plagued by its unethical treatment of people and the planet. This doesn't inspire confidence yet allows dishonesty its permanence.

If you are brave enough to mention this regulation, expect a verbal kick in the nuts because people don't like being called out. These sellers failed to do the basic research necessary to legally sell and market their products. It runs much deeper than a simple mistake. What other deceitful selling tactics are conspiring if the most fundamental aspects were not only ignored but blatantly and willfully disregarded?

The saying is this: When an honest person is wrong they either cease being honest or stop being wrong. We all like being right though squandering your moral compass to make a dollar is pathetic. Sadly, it seems to be the norm whether jewelry or politics.

You will find truthful advertising and handmade goods here without exclusions or disclaimers. Legitimate handmade products don't matter to most people; as long as they're being told it's handmade and it's a fair price, that's good enough. Enjoy.

Posted by M: May 19, 2017

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