According to U.S. law, imported products must be marked properly with their country of origin - in our instance, knives. What is deeply troublesome is when unscrupulous knife companies and even some custom knifemakers, don't follow these procedures. That may mean that the unmarked knife you're purchasing is being made overseas, even if the knifemaker is based in the U.S. For products entering the USA, US customs provide an outline of the requirements for knives made in China or another country. Marking Requirements from US Customs. Often times, these lawbreaking companies remove the country of origin to inflate the price that is paid for an item.
Proper Country of Origin Marking -
The most basic requirement required by all goods imported to the U.S., including knives, is marking that tells the ultimate purchaser (such as the consumer, or even the gift receiver) where the item was made. For example, the "Made in China" or "China" mark should be "legible and permanent enough for the ultimate purchaser to be made aware of the origin of the goods." A legible, visible and marked permanently enough so that it could not be removed or renamed before the time the purchaser receives the item.
"Removing the sticker" and the country of origin...
Some resellers do not follow these procedures on purpose, sadly selling these imported products without a country of origin on the product. Have you purchased an imported knife that does identify the country of origin? Often times items manufactured from China, are shipped with a paper sticker country label on them. Once imported, resellers can remove that sticker and sell the product without clearly disclosing the real country of origin. I take the stand that this practice is unethical, illegal and willfully damaging to both the American knife industry and the knife buying public.
According to US Customs:
"What are the acceptable forms of marking?
The best form of marking is one which becomes a part of the article itself, such as branding, stenciling, stamping, printing, molding, and similar methods.
Other forms of marking will also be acceptable if it is certain that the marking will remain legible and conspicuous until the article reaches the ultimate purchaser in the United States. It is important that this marking withstand handling. "
Material Verification Concerns -
Also, tracking the source for materials (like high-end specialty knife steels, titanium grades, or other costly materials) from overseas companies is a lot harder to do compared to US manufacturers. In the U.S., supply chains are better documented and misrepresentation can be enforced with legal action. With no easy way to authenticate the types of steel, type/grade of the metal, the grade of handle materials, etc. that goes into the knife, buyers could end up purchasing a cheaper knife than they believe, investing over $100, $400, or even $1000 for an item that won't hold up to their needs or expectations.
Repair Concern -
Repairs for a knife made in China (or missing country of origin) may be next to impossible because shipping a knife to China is highly restricted by their government. It can be a bitter pill to swallow that your $500 knife (with 'Made in China' sticker removed) is nearly unrepairable...
Secondary Market -
Another issue arises when the unmarked knife is sold on the secondary market for the entire life of the item. The buyers and sellers of the unmarked item can become completely separated from the manufacturer's country of origin. Most counterfeit knives are made in China and are mismarked.
If it is 'Made in USA' - mark it!
In the same vein, American manufacturers should (but not required by law) mark their products "Made in the U.S.A," or "American Made" if applicable. This is especially important when knives are to be exported outside the country. These rules are important to follow, especially for U.S. businesses that want to help protect their knives from counterfeiting and protect the integrity of their brand. Having American-made products clearly marked can provide the added USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) benefits when shipping to Mexico or Canada. Also, having an American product properly marked could significantly help lower with customs fees if the item is ever returned to the USA. For more detailed information on 'Made in USA' marking standards and requirements.
Final Thoughts -
All of this being said, the country of origin alone does not directly affect the underlying quality of a knife. Origin is a buying factor that should be considered, some people find it to be a bigger factor than others. It is our position, that high-end items should be sold in a transparent, fact-based manner without subterfuge so the buyer can make an informed decision. The country of origin should be permanently marked on the product.
Knife buyers should be careful when buying knives, especially online. To ensure the authenticity of your knife, make sure you are purchasing from a company that can validate where their products come from, including where the item itself is made. Be cautious when dealing with knife companies that don't list a country of origin on an imported product, or make it unclear where they are physically located.
Here at KnifeArt.com, you can rest assured that a knife from our website is legitimate, sourced directly from the manufacturer, or custom maker as an authorized dealer.
(for related reading, take a look at American Knife and Tool Institute's article on knife counterfeiting problem.)
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