- Ellen Hunt
Mad in America
It is Made in America week, promoted by the White House. But did you realize that it is almost impossible for fine jewelers to comply with the regulations of Made in America? There are two parts to this regulation... the country of origin of the source materials must be predominantly made in the USA and the second part is assembled in the USA. A product must meet both criteria to say they are made here. So for jewelry, this is an almost impossibly high bar to reach. Silver and gold are rarely mined here. And once they are, they are very often combined with metals in a refining process that comingles them with material of an unknown source. It is impossible to say that the source material for silver or gold or other precious metals is guaranteed Made in America. I buy my metals from a local refinery/assayer. I know for certain that this is a local company, and their products are, as they say, locally sourced. But this won't meet the Made in USA standard. The other side of this coin is that there are virtually no precious gems mined in the US. There are some agates, diamonds from Arkansas, turquoise from Arizona and other beautiful American minerals that are used in jewelry. But the best gemstones we make are lab grown. I love to use them in my work. They are beautiful and at a great price point. But for very fine jewelry, they are still a difficult sale to make. I often use recycled or vintage stones, and these too do not meet the US sourced criteria. Recycling old stones means fewer new ones are mined...a process that is both harmful to the earth and the miners. But that logic won't work on making a product Made in America. Many jewelers, especially local jewelers who have their own stores or pop-up shops cast their own work, set their own stones and completely fabricate their work here. That only settles half of the test, and so, their products (and mine) cannot be called Made In America.
Several jewelry associations have been fighting against this law for a long time. I hope one day that recycled materials, stones and metals, when recycled here and assembled here can be called Made In America. And please, continue to support your local independent jewelers. We create custom work just for you, design lines that reflect where we live and the environment that surrounds us. And love bringing beautiful things into your world for you to enjoy.