What is hallmarking -
Why Is It Important On Jewellery?:
Any jeweller working in precious metal finds out early in their career the answer to the question ‘What is hallmarking’. Precious metals is something that I have revisited recently, so I felt it was good time to share the answer to this on my blog.
In the UK it is a legal requirement to have precious metal hallmarked. This is according to the Hallmarking act 1973. Having your piece of jewellery or metalwork officially hallmarked by as assay office, is your trusted way to guarantee that you are getting the purity of metal that you have paid for.
The Official Stamp
A hallmark is an official seal issued by the Government to an assay office, which gives them the right to stamp a guaranteed quality on their behalf. In the UK there are four assay offices that jewellers/metalsmiths then send their work to to be hallmarked. These can be found in: Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield.
Protecting Both Jeweller and Consumer
By buying jewellery or metal ware from makers that use this official stamp on their work, you are protecting yourself. You are guaranteeing that your item has been tested by an assay office authority, who ensure a certain quality of metal standard throughout the UK
It’s also a way for jewellers to ensure that the metal they are buying is of the quality they expect from their suppliers. Therefore, it’s a guarantee and protection for them also, by using the expertise of technology and an establishment founded back in 1327. It also sets them apart from those jewellers selling wares claiming to be of a certain quality, though in reality are passing off cheaper materials, with no guarantee to their clients.
There are some rules to hallmarking too that are worth knowing before making your precious metal purchases.
- Gold, silver, platinum, and more recently, palladium are the only metals that must be hallmarked by law in the UK.
- White and yellow golds must be further classified into 9K, 14K, 18K and 22K standards.
- Silver, platinum and palladium must also satisfy a percentage of purity to meet UK hallmarking requirements.
- The Hallmarking Act states that it is an offence to claim that a piece of jewellery is made with gold, silver, platinum or palladium, unless it’s hallmarked as such.
- It is an offence to remove, alter or counterfeit a hallmark.
- Certain precious metal objects are exempt from hallmarking if they fall under a certain weight category. There are varying minimums for varying metals:
- 7.78 grams for silver
- 1 gram for gold
- 0.5 grams for platinum and palladium
An official hallmark will legally include a minimum of:
- the sponsors mark, a unique symbol of the mark of the person/company sending the piece for hallmarking (the SLK in Saloukee’s case)
- a standard mark, showing the fineness of metal used (the 925 to represent silver in this case)
- the assay office town mark (the anchor for Birmingham in this case)
Together with any of the following additional marks :
- a traditional mark which visually illustrates the standard of metal used (the lion representing sterling silver in this case)
- a date letter stating the year of making (the letter ‘u’ representing the year 2019 in this case)
- a commemorative mark, which celebrates a major event (examples as below)
So that’s my low down of the basics. Hopefully now you know a little more about ‘What is hallmarking’ and why it is so important when buying your jewels. So, next time you’ll wow the precious metal maker you buy from, with your wonderful knowledge on the subject! You can also protect yourself from any rogue traders. Though you may pay a little more for a piece that is hallmarked, this is your guarantee that you are buying quality that can be passed down as an heirloom for time to come!
If you have any questions about hallmarking or would like to know anything more about the hallmarked pieces in my collection, do drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you. Thanks for reading!