What is hallmarking and why is it important?
What is Hallmarking?
Hallmarking refers to a mark that is applied to pieces of precious metals (platinum, gold, palladium or silver), which shows that it has been independently tested and verified and therefore conforms to all legal standards of purity or fineness.
Considered to be the oldest form of consumer protection in the UK, hallmarking has a long history. The practice dates back to 1300 and has gradually progressed to the Hallmarking Act Of 1973 (which has been updated and amended on various occasions) which requires that all items sold in the United Kingdom and described as being made from gold, silver, platinum or palladium must have a legally recognised hallmark.
A complete hallmark consists of three compulsory marks:
1) A sponsor's or maker's mark
2) A metal and purity (fineness) mark
For your information the majority of our jewellery in yellow gold will be in 22 carat gold, with a 916 stamped and a hexagonal outline. Our diamond jewellery on the other hand is mostly made in 18 carat gold and platinum.
A hallmark from the London Assay Office on a Minar Jewellers 22ct Gold Bangle
Interestingly Platinum and Palladium up until recently had very similar shaped marks for 950 and 900 parts per thousand. Only after extensive lobbying and council was the change made to give two distinct shapes for the two precious metals.
3) An Assay Office mark
If an item has not been stamped or marked with these three distinct markings then it has not been properly hallmarked. There other markings to be found on jewellery such as trademarks - which are there to distinguish one manufacturers' work from another. A stamp indicating the fineness of an item (e.g. 925 on a gold ring) on its own - is not an officially hallmarked item.
Why is Hallmarking important?
It is very difficult to ascertain how much precious metal is contained in items of jewellery just by looking at it or touching it. There are some unscrupulous dealers who will try and pass off items of jewellery with low amounts of precious metal content as having high amounts. By using a hallmark, the exact purity of an items precious metal can be clarified and confirmed - so that consumers can be safe in the knowledge that what they are buying is a genuine and legitimate product.
With the increasing rise of jewellery being sold online, new routes for some unscrupulous dealers looking to fool consumers are being opened, but by having their products hallmarked, genuine sellers of jewellery online are able to put their customers' minds at ease by offering independently verified products.
We believe from a consumer buying point of view that Hallmarking will provide confidence that the article you are buying is exactly what it should be.
Do all items of jewellery need to be hallmarked?
It is a legal requirement to hallmark items containing precious metals if they are advertised as such.
All items containing Platinum, Gold, Palladium and Sterling Silver that are sold in the United Kingdom MUST be hallmarked. There are exemptions for items that fall below the minimum weight thresholds. The thresholds are 1 gram for gold, 7.78 grams for silver and 0.5 grams for Platinum.
If you are sold an item of jewellery made with gold, silver, palladium or platinum (and it exceeds the minimum weight thresholds) that is not hallmarked then that seller / retailer is breaking the law. This is regardless of whether the item is sold over the internet or in a showroom.
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