Government Regulations

All Precious Metals are regulated by the FTC with the guidance of the JVC (Jewelers Vigilance Committee). The JVC is the jewelry industry authority for all Precious Metals regulated by the FTC.  Bonded, Goldfilled and Gold Plated items are also regulated and the newest guidelines have been developed specifically to protect the interest of the consumer from misleading or fraudulent claims of gold content for alternative products.
Bonded,Goldfilled and Gold Plated items are also regulated by the same agencies and the newest guidelines have been developed specifically to protect the interest of the consumer from misleading or fraudulent claims of gold content.

Bonded is made from solid gold and filled primarily with Sterling Silver.

Gold filled jewelry is made from solid gold and filled with other alloys such as rhodium (a member of the platinum family), brass, and sterling silver.

The use of the word “solid gold” always refers to an item of gold that is solidly of gold or of a gold alloy throughout.

Both Bonded and Gold filled wear, look and last like solid gold because its outer surface IS solid gold.

Metals Stamping Act

United States Code Title 15: Commerce and Trade
Chapter 8: Falsely Stamped Gold or Silver or Goods Manufactured

291 Stamping with words “United States assay,” etc., unlawful.

292 Forfeiture.

293 Penalty for infraction

294 Importation or transportation of falsely marked gold or silver ware prohibited

295 Standard of fineness of gold articles; deviation

296 Standard of fineness of silver articles; deviation

297 Stamping plated articles

298 Violations of law

299 Definitions

300 Application of State laws

FTC Guidelines –Quality Marks

§23.9 Additional guidance for the use of quality marks

As used in these guides, the term quality mark means any letter, figure, numeral, symbol, sign, word, or term, or any combination thereof, that has been stamped, embossed, inscribed, or otherwise placed on any industry product and which indicates or suggests that any such product is composed throughout of any precious metal or any precious metal alloy or has a surface or surfaces on which there has been plated or deposited any precious metal or precious metal alloy. Included are the words “gold,” “karat,” “carat,” “silver,” “sterling,” “vermeil,” “platinum,” “iridium,” “palladium,” “ruthenium,” “rhodium,” or “osmium,” or any abbreviations thereof, whether used alone or in conjunction with the words “filled,” “plated,” “overlay,” or “electroplated,” or any abbreviations thereof. Quality markings include those in which the words or terms “gold,” “karat,” “silver,” “vermeil,” “platinum” (or platinum group metals), or their abbreviations are included, either separately or as suffixes, prefixes, or syllables.

(a) Deception as to applicability of marks.

•(1) If a quality mark on an industry product is applicable to only part of the product, the part of the product to which it is applicable (or inapplicable) should be disclosed when, absent such disclosure, the location of the mark misrepresents the product or part’s true composition.

•(2) If a quality mark is applicable to only part of an industry product, but not another part which is of similar surface appearance, each quality mark should be closely accompanied by an identification of the part or parts to which the mark is applicable.

(b) Deception by reason of difference in the size of letters or words in a marking or markings. It is unfair or deceptive to place a quality mark on a product in which the words or letters appear in greater size than other words or letters of the mark, or when different markings placed on the product have different applications and are in different sizes, when the net impression of any such marking would be misleading as to the metallic composition of all or part of the product. (An example of improper marking would be the marking of a gold electroplated product with the word “electroplate” in small type and the word “gold” in larger type, with the result that purchasers and prospective purchasers of the product might only observe the word “gold.”)

Note 1 to §23.9:Legibility of markings. If a quality mark is engraved or stamped on an industry product, or is printed on a tag or label attached to the product, the quality mark should be of sufficient size type as to be legible to persons of normal vision, should be so placed as likely to be observed by purchasers, and should be so attached as to remain thereon until consumer purchase.

Note 2 to §23.9:Disclosure of identity of manufacturers, processors, or distributors. 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

Marking Requirements

(b) The following are examples of markings or descriptions that may be misleading:

Gold Plating

•(3) Use of the word “Gold” or any abbreviation to describe all or part of an industry product that is not composed throughout of gold or a gold alloy, but is surface-plated or coated with gold alloy, unless the word “Gold” or its abbreviation is adequately qualified to indicate that the product or part is only surface-plated.

•(4) Use of the term “Gold Plate,” “Gold Plated,” or any abbreviation to describe all or part of an industry product unless such product or part contains a surface-plating of gold alloy, applied by any process, which is of such thickness and extent of surface coverage that reasonable durability is assured.

•(2) An industry product or part thereof, on which there has been affixed on all significant surfaces, by any process, a coating, electroplating, or deposition by any means, of gold or gold alloy of not less than 10 karat fineness that is of substantial thickness,3and the minimum thickness throughout of which is equivalent to one-half micron (or approximately 20 millionths of an inch) of fine gold,4may be marked or described as “Gold Plate” or “Gold Plated,” or abbreviated, as, for example, G.P. The exact thickness of the plate may be marked on the item, if it is immediately followed by a designation of the karat fineness of the plating which is of equal conspicuousness as the term used (as, for example, “2 microns 12 K. gold plate” or “2μ 12 K. G.P.” for an item plated with 2 microns of 12 karat gold.)

•Note paragraph (c)(2) to paragraph (b):If an industry product has a thicker coating or electroplating of gold or gold alloy on some areas than others, the minimum thickness of the plate should be marked.

§23.5 Misuse of the word “vermeil.“

(a) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by implication, that an industry product is “vermeil” if such mark or description misrepresents the product’s true composition.

(b) An industry product may be described or marked as “vermeil” if it consists of a base of sterling silver coated or plated on all significant surfaces with gold, or gold alloy of not less than 10 karat fineness, that is of substantial thickness7and a minimum thickness throughout equivalent to two and one half (2 1/2) microns (or approximately 100/1,000,000ths of an inch) of fine gold.

Note 1 to §23.5:It is unfair or deceptive to use the term “vermeil” to describe a product in which the sterling silver has been covered with a base metal (such as nickel) plated with gold unless there is a disclosure that the sterling silver is covered with a base metal that is plated with gold.

Note 2 to §23.5:Exemptions recognized in the assay of gold filled, gold overlay, and rolled gold plate industry products are listed in the appendix.

Gold Electroplate/Gold Flash

•(3) Use of the word “Gold” or any abbreviation to describe all or part of an industry product that is not composed throughout of gold or a gold alloy, but is surface-plated or coated with gold alloy, unless the word “Gold” or its abbreviation is adequately qualified to indicate that the product or part is only surface-plated.

•(7) Use of the term “Gold Electroplate,” “Gold Electroplated,” or any abbreviation to describe all or part of an industry product unless such product or part is electroplated with gold or a gold alloy and such electroplating is of such karat fineness, thickness, and extent of surface coverage that reasonable durability is assured.

•(4) An industry product or part thereof, on which there has been affixed on all significant surfaces by an electrolytic process, an electroplating of gold, or of a gold alloy of not less than 10 karat fineness, which has a minimum thickness throughout equivalent to .175 microns (approximately 7/1,000,000ths of an inch) of fine gold, may be marked or described as “Gold Electroplate” or “Gold Electroplated,” or abbreviated, as, for example, “G.E.P.” When the electroplating meets the minimum fineness but not the minimum thickness specified above, the marking or description may be “Gold Flashed” or “Gold Washed.” When the electroplating is of the minimum fineness specified above and of a minimum thickness throughout equivalent to two and one half (2 1/2) microns (or approximately 100/1,000,000ths of an inch) of fine gold, the marking or description may be “Heavy Gold Electroplate” or “Heavy Gold Electroplated.” When electroplatingsqualify for the term “Gold Electroplate” (or “Gold Electroplated”), or the term “Heavy Gold Electroplate” (or “Heavy Gold Electroplated”), and have been applied by use of a particular kind of electrolytic process, the marking may be accompanied by identification of the process used, as for example, “Gold Electroplated (X Process)” or “Heavy Gold Electroplated (Y Process).”

Gold Filled, Gold Overlay, Rolled Gold Plate

•(2) Use of the word “Gold” or any abbreviation to describe all or part of an industry product composed throughout of an alloy of gold, unless a correct designation of the karat fineness of the alloy immediately precedes the word “Gold” or its abbreviation, and such fineness designation is of at least equal conspicuousness.

•(5) Use of the terms “Gold Filled,” “Rolled Gold Plate,” “Rolled Gold Plated,” “Gold Overlay,” or any abbreviation to describe all or part of an industry product unless such product or part contains a surface-plating of gold alloy applied by a mechanical process and of such thickness and extent of surface coverage that reasonable durability is assured, and unless the term is immediately preceded by a correct designation of the karat fineness of the alloy that is of at least equal conspicuousness as the term used.

•(1) An industry product or part thereof, composed throughout of an alloy of gold of not less than 10 karat fineness, may be marked and described as “Gold” when such word “Gold,” wherever appearing, is immediately preceded by a correct designation of the karat fineness of the alloy, and such karat designation is of equal conspicuousness as the word “Gold” (for example, “14 Karat Gold,” “14 K. Gold,” or “14 Kt. Gold”). Such product may also be marked and described by a designation of the karat fineness of the gold alloy unaccompanied by the word “Gold” (for example, “14 Karat,” “14 Kt.,” or “14 K.”).

Note to paragraph (c)(1):Use of the term “Gold” or any abbreviation to describe all or part of a product that is composed throughout of gold alloy, but contains a hollow center or interior, may mislead consumers, unless the fact that the product contains a hollow center is disclosed in immediate proximity to the term “Gold” or its abbreviation (for example, “14 Karat Gold-Hollow Center,” or “14 K. Gold Tubing,” when of a gold alloy tubing of such karat fineness).

Such products should not be marked or described as “solid” or as being solidly of gold or of a gold alloy. For example, when the composition of such a product is 14 karat gold alloy, it should not be described or marked as either “14 Kt. Solid Gold” or as “Solid 14 Kt. Gold.“

(3) An industry product or part thereof on which there has been affixed on all significant surfaces by soldering, brazing, welding, or other mechanical means, a plating of gold alloy of not less than 10 karat fineness and of substantial thickness may be marked or described as “Gold Filled,” “Gold Overlay,” “Rolled Gold Plate”oran adequate abbreviation, when such plating constitutes at least 1/20th of the weight of the metal in the entire article and when the term is immediately preceded by a designation of the karat fineness of the plating which is of equal conspicuousness as the term used (for example, “14 Karat Gold Filled,” “14 Kt. Gold Filled,” “14 Kt. G.F.,” “14 Kt. Gold Overlay,” or “14K. R.G.P.”).

When conforming to all such requirements except the specified minimum of 1/20th of the weight of the metal in the entire article, the terms “Gold Overlay” and “Rolled Gold Plate” may be used when the karat fineness designation is immediately preceded by a fraction accurately disclosing the portion of the weight of the metal in the entire article accounted for by the plating, and when such fraction is of equal conspicuousness as the term used (for example, “1/40th 12 Kt. Rolled Gold Plate” or “1/40 12 Kt. R.G.P.”).

All Gold Alloys

•(1) Use of the word “Gold” or any abbreviation, without qualification, to describe all or part of an industry product, which is not composed throughout of fine (24 karat) gold.

•(6) Use of the terms “Gold Plate,” “Gold Plated,” “Gold Filled,” “Rolled Gold Plate,” “Rolled Gold Plated,” “GldOverlay,” or any abbreviation to describe a product in which the layer of gold plating has been covered with a base metal (such as nickel), which is covered with a thin wash of gold, unless there is a disclosure that the primary gold coating is covered with a base metal, which is gold washed.

•(8) Use of any name, terminology, or other term to misrepresent that an industry product is equal or superior to, or different than, a known and established type of industry product with reference to its gold content or method of manufacture.

•(9) Use of the word “Gold” or any abbreviation, or of a quality mark implying gold content (e.g., 9 karat), to describe all or part of an industry product that is composed throughout of an alloy of gold of less than 10 karat fineness.

Marking Requirements (Silver)

§23.6 Misrepresentation as to silver content.

•(a) It is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent that an industry product contains silver, or to misrepresent an industry product as having a silver content, plating, electroplating, or coating.

•(b) It is unfair or deceptive to mark, describe, or otherwise represent all or part of an industry product as “silver,” “solid silver,” “Sterling Silver,” “Sterling,” or the abbreviation “Ster.” unless it is at least 925/1,000ths pure silver.

•(c) It is unfair or deceptive to mark, describe, or otherwise represent all or part of an industry product as “coin” or “coin silver” unless it is at least 900/1,000ths pure silver.

•(d) It is unfair or deceptive to mark, describe, or otherwise represent all or part of an industry product as being plated or coated with silver unless all significant surfaces of the product or part contain a plating or coating of silver that is of substantial thickness.8

•(e) The provisions of this section relating to markings and descriptions of industry products and parts thereof are subject to the applicable tolerances of the National Stamping Act or any amendment thereof.9

•Note 1 to §23.6:The National Stamping Act provides that silverplatedarticles shall not “be stamped, branded, engraved or imprinted with the word ‘sterling’ or the word ‘coin,’ either alone or in conjunction with other words or marks.” 15 U.S.C. 297(a).

•Note 2 to §23.6: Exemptions recognized in the assay of silver industry products are listed in the appendix.