Why You Should Understand FTC Regulations
Within the United States the Federal Trade Commission, (FTC), protects consumers through establishing regulations to prevent deception and unfairness in the marketplace.
While jewelry makers in the United States are not required to label the content of their metals, or the country of origin of their findings, the FTC does provide guidelines for how they should advertise and describe their products.
The following four questions should help you determine how to best describe your creations.
1. Can I describe my jewelry as Made in the U.S.A.?
According to FTC jewelry guidelines, a product has to be “all or virtually all” made in the United States to be advertised or labeled as “Made in the U.S.A.”
For example, Nunn Design pewter findings are cast and plated in the U.S.A. but, because the raw materials used to make the findings originate outside the U.S., our pewter findings do not meet the FTC guideline of “all or virtually all” made in the United States.
To avoid the potential of deceiving consumers, Nunn Design chooses to describe their products as; “cast and plated in the USA with imported lead-free pewter and precious metals”.
Brass items within the Nunn Design Collection have a slightly different process than pewter. The brass is imported, but due to the cost of fabrication and forming we use the statement; “Brass findings formed in the USA and plated with imported precious metals.”
2. Can I describe my jewelry as handmade?
Many of us make our jewelry with our hands, however the FTC definition of “handmade” is specific on this matter.
§23.2 Misuse of the terms “handmade,” “hand-polished,” etc.
(a) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by implication, that any industry product is handmade 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.
(b) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by implication, that any industry product is hand-forged, hand-engraved, hand-finished, or hand-polished, or has been otherwise hand-processed, unless the operation described was accomplished by hand labor and manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to control and vary the type, amount, and effect of such operation on each part of each individual product.
3. Can I incorporate imported findings into my jewelry and still state “Handmade in the USA?
The FTC “Made in the USA” policy states clearly that marketers should not make unqualified U.S. origin claims unless they can substantiate that the product advertised is “all or virtually all” made in the United States. This means that the product should have no more than a de minimis amount of foreign content. To avoid deception, marketers should qualify claims that include such content.
§ 323.2 Prohibited acts.
In connection with promoting or offering for sale any good or service, in or affecting commerce, as “commerce” is defined in the Federal Trade Commission Act, it is an unfair or deceptive act or practice within the meaning of section 5 of that Act to label any product as Made in the United States unless the final assembly or processing of the product occurs in the United States, all significant processing that goes into the product occurs in the United States, and all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States.
4. I am a very small business.
Does any of this apply to me?
FTC Jewelry Guidelines apply to everyone regardless of the size of their business.
In 2020 consumers are quickly converting to shopping online. A new habit is being formed. Forecasters are predicting that up to forty percent of those converted consumers will continue to shop online into the foreseeable future.
As more of your customers make the transition from in person sales to online, I believe they will require more information regarding the brands they are purchasing. Our job as jewelry makers is to earn and retain their trust through full disclosure and authenticity.
Here is a list of articles for more information on FTC Jewelry Guidelines:
- www.ecfr.gov – Electronic Code of Federal Regulations
- https://www.federalregister.gov – Made in USA Labeling Rule
- https://www.ftc.gov – Complying With the Made in USA Standard
Federal Trade Commission. “Complying with the Made in USA Standard.” Accessed May 30, 2020.
Disclaimer: The information provided is based on my own research for describing Nunn Design Findings within FTC guidelines. It is not legal advice. Please consult with an attorney for additional information regarding accurate descriptions of your company’s jewelry.
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