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What is a hallmark?

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Why should you ask about hallmarking?

It isn't the first thing that comes to mind for most people when buying jewellery. But it is important, especially when purchasing jewellery.

Precious metals are alloyed with other metals to give them strength and workability. For example 925 sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% other base metals such as copper. 9ct gold (375) contains 37.5% pure gold and the remaining is an alloy of other metals. There is no way to test the precious metal content by eye so in order to know you are purchasing the real deal as advertised it needs to be tested. It is a legal requirement to do so. All pieces apart from those that fall into the exemption weight category, must have a hallmark here in the UK. Read more on the exemption weights below.

This is what hallmarking is. The assay office tests the jewellery for the content of precious metals the jeweler has declared it as. If it passes then it receives the hallmark. The UK Hallmarking Act (1973) states it is an offence for any person, trade or business to describe or supply an un-hallmarked piece of being made wholly or partly of precious metals. Failing to do so can lead to heavy fines and prosecution for the seller.

Pieces that fall under the below exemption weights do not legally require a hallmark:

Silver 7.78g

Gold & Palladium 1g

Platinum 0.5g

All sellers are also required to display the statutory notice, known as a dealers notice including when selling online - you can see mine here - I also have a printed laminate copy that I display on my stalls too. Look for the dealers notice, it is your guarantee when purchasing.

So what does a hallmark consist of?

It is 5 marks a Sponsor’s Mark (also known as Maker’s Mark) - That is the registered mark of the maker, a set of initials upon a shield. Each one is unique to each maker. No two are the same -  below is a piece featuring my uniqiue Maker's Mark and the full UK hallmark.

Traditional Fineness Symbol - Symbols depicting Sterling silver, Britannia silver, Gold, Palladium and Platinum. This one is an optional mark but is applied as standard at the London Assay office where I am registered. 

Millesimal Fineness Mark - Tells you the quality of the metal as well as the metal type. It is the number part of a hallmark within a shield so for silver you would see an oval shield with 925 in the middle, 9ct gold is a hexagon shield with 375 in the middle.

Assay Office Mark - There are 4 assay offices in the UK London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh. London is the Leopard's head.

Date Letter Mark - The letter corresponds to which year the piece was made.

Full hallmark by Streets Craft Creations

Some choose to stamp their underweight silver with numbers 925. It's not a hallmark but if you are buying from a reputable place and you have seen their dealers notice then it's most likely to be fine. If unsure just ask the seller I am sure they will be more than happy to help.

All my pieces above the exemption weights will always have a full hallmark. For my underweight pieces, I now mark them using my Maker’s Mark like below. That way my pieces are traceable to me, who knows one day they may end up on an antique programme! 

Makers Mark by Streets Craft Creations

I also note the weight of the piece on the listing so you can see for yourself. You can also request any piece under the exemption weight to be hallmarked if you would like it to be, there is an additional charge, you can read more about how to request that here.

So that is everything you need to know about hallmarking, whether you are buying jewellery for yourself or selling it as a business. I hope you have found this helpful. If you have any questions just pop me an email here.

Why not head over and check out some beautiful jewellery rest assured that you know it's exactly the quality as stated -

Happy jewellery buying -  Shell x


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