Everything you need to know about hallmarks and why they are so important.

The UK has very strict guidelines when it comes to hallmarking and it is illegal to describe an item of jewellery, as a precious metal, without one. The Hallmark guarantees the metal content of the item that you are buying, giving you peace of mind.

The Hallmarking Act 1973, came in to place on the 1st January 1975 to end all confusion amongst the public. It was created to help identify the metals, used in jewellery, and therefore creating an understanding for the public and protecting them against fraud. If these hallmarks were widely recognised, then the sale of precious metals would be safe from counterfeits and fakes.

The Hallmark Act 1973 stated that all precious metals, Platinum, Gold, Silver, Palladium, above a certain weight, would be stamped accordingly. Platinum 0.5 grams, Gold 1 gram, Silver 7.8 grams.

Over the years, the hallmarks may differ but the rules, in the UK, have not. The following guide will try and simplify these hallmarks for you and help you understand why they are so important in the jewellery trade and what we are always on the look out for.

The Maker’s Mark

Sponsor’s Mark/Responsibility Mark

Introduced in 1363. This is a mark of the person or company responsible for sending the item to the Assay office for identification. The sponsor MUST register his/her mark (these are usually their initials) with the Assay office and pay a fee to do so. This can be done by anyone- A retailer, craftsman, importer and manufacturer.

The Fineness Mark/ Purity Mark

This is the level of precious metal in the piece of jewellery set inside a shape to identify said precious metal. The number indicates how many parts, out of 1000, contains precious metal. The rest is made up with other substances to create the colour and stability of the metals we know and love, today.

Gold– Rectangle with cut corners

9 Carat= 375 (375 parts gold out of 1000 parts alloy)

14 Carat= 585 (585 parts gold out of 1000 parts alloy)

18 Carat= 750 (750 parts gold out of 1000 parts alloy)

22 Carat= 916 (916 parts gold out of 1000 parts alloy)

Platinum – An Orb in a 5 sided shape, a house.

950 (950 parts Platinum out of 1000 parts alloy)

Silver – An oval

925= More commonly used and known as Sterling Silver, (925 parts silver out of 1000 alloy)

958= Known to some, but not all, Britannia Silver, (958 parts silver out of 1000 parts alloy)

Mark of Origin

The Assay Office Mark

The Assay office is the symbol to identify the location in which the jewellery has been identified and assessed. They are depicted in these 4 offices with the following symbols.

There have been many more assay offices over the years but they have been closed, sadly.

The Date Letter

Introduced in 1478. Letters of the Alphabet are used to depict the date of manufacture. Starting in 1975, all date letters change yearly on the 1st of January.

The Pictorial Mark

These were compulsory right up until the 1999 Amendments of the Hallmarking Act and are now only optional. Still continued by many assay offices. If used, they must be kept to the same original high standards formerly applied to the Hallmarking Act 1973. For example; Sterling Silver, 925 or higher BUT NEVER LOWER.

They include the Lion Passant, Sterling silver, adopted in London in 1544 and the Crown, Gold, 1798.

The Hallmarking Regulations 1998 (Hallmarking Act Amendments) effective from 1st January 1999 did bring in additional standards of fineness authorised for Gold, Silver and Platinum. Palladium as of 2010.

Gold= 990 parts Gold per 1000 parts alloy.

Silver= 800 and 999 parts Silver per 1000 parts alloy.

Platinum= 850, 900 and 999 parts Platinum per 1000 parts alloy.

Palladium=500, 950 and 999 parts Palladium per 1000 parts alloy.

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