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Hallmarking Gold Silver and Platinum Jewellery

ALL ABOUT HALLMARKING

The following information is taken from the Goldsmiths' Company Assay Office website.

What is a Hallmark?

A Hallmark:

  • Consists of a series of marks applied to articles of the precious metals platinum, gold, palladium and silver
  • Means that the article has been independently tested
  • Guarantees that it conforms to all legal standards of purity (fineness)

A complete hallmark consists of three compulsory punch marks:

  • Sponsor's (or maker's, manufacturer's or name) mark
  • Metal and fineness (purity) mark
  • Assay Office mark

The Goldsmiths' Company Assay Office also applies two optional marks, at no extra cost:

  • Date mark
  • Traditional fineness mark

Traditional Struck Mark:

Detailed information on current legal hallmarks can be found in the Hallmarking Guidance Notes.

Other marks can be applied including commemorative marks or International Convention marks.

Why Hallmark?

Precious metals are rarely used in their purest form but are usually alloyed with other metals. It isn't possible to detect an article's precious metal content by sight or touch. Therefore, it is a legal requirement to hallmark articles containing precious metals if they are described as such.

The UK Hallmarking Act (1973) states that it is an offence for any person, in the course of trade or business, to describe an un-hallmarked article as being wholly or partly made of precious metal(s) or to supply un-hallmarked articles to which such a description is applied.

London Assay Office

SELLING PRECIOUS METAL JEWELLERY IN THE UK

The following information is taken from the British Hallmarking Council's website.

Businesses who wish to sell precious metal jewellery, i.e. Platinum, Gold Silver or Palladium, in the UK must follow the rules laid out by law in the Hallmarking Act 1973. If these rules are not followed, Trading Standards Officers have the right to seize goods immediately and the seller is committing an illegal act.

There are three important rules:

1. Minimum Fineness The law requires that if any item is to be described and sold as Gold, Silver, Platinum or Palladium it must meet a minimum standard or “fineness” which is expressed in parts per thousand. For example, the minimum quantity of precious metal in the alloy of an article described as 9ct Gold must be 375 parts per thousand. The minimum quantity of silver in items described as Sterling Silver must be at least 925 parts per thousand.

2. A Compulsory Hallmark If the item is over a certain weight, the fineness must also be checked by an independent Assay Office and the item hallmarked with the relevant information to show the customer that the item is of the specified fineness before being offered for sale.

The weight thresholds are: Gold – over 1 gram Silver – over 7.78 grams Platinum – over 0.5 grams Palladium – over 1 gram

A UK Hallmark consists of three compulsory symbols:

 • A Sponsor’s Mark, a mark indicative and unique to the business submitting the article for hallmarking.

• A Fineness Mark – the purity of the precious metal content, for example, sterling silver is 925 parts silver per thousand parts by weight. The Fineness Mark for Sterling Silver therefore is 925.

• The Assay Office Mark – this is the mark of The UK Assay Office at which the hallmark has been struck, in the case of The Birmingham Assay Office, this is an Anchor.

 NB: Where a manufacturer has marked a fineness, such as 925, into their jewellery this is not a substitute for a UK hallmark. 3. Dealers’ Notices It is also a requirement for traders in precious metals to display a Dealer’s Notice, which explains what the hallmark means, in a prominent position at their place of trading.

British Hallmarking Council

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