What is a Hallmark?

A Hallmark:

  • Is a set of component marks applied to articles of the precious metals gold, silver, platinum or palladium.
  • Means that the article has been independently tested.
  • Guarantees that it conforms to all legal standards of purity (fineness).
  • Guarantees provenance by telling us where the piece was hallmarked, what the article is made from, and who sent the article for hallmarking. 

  • Hallmarking is the application of a series of marks to precious metals to indicate the precious metal content. This visible confirmation of the precious metal content helps guard against under-caratting.
  • Hallmarking dates back to 1300 and represents the oldest form of consumer protection in the United Kingdom. Today, the Hallmarking Act 1973 (and subsequent amendments) 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.
  • The hallmark is applied by regulated assay offices, which are independent of the trade. This independence ensures that the hallmark acts as a trusted guarantee for both the consumer and the trade. The integrity offered by independent testing is the key reason that hallmarking has endured for over 700 years.
  • With the rise of online retailing and internet auction sites, the route to market for the retail of jewellery and silverware has been transformed. The routes available to defraud the consumer have also evolved with this increased complexity. However, the presence of the hallmark remains a simple and effective check to ensure that the customer has indeed bought a precious metal article.
  • Hallmarking legislation has been refined over many centuries and is now so sophisticated that it permits a classification of fake items. The hallmark itself also plays a unique role with scientific testing and connoisseurship in the detection of fakes – such a useful parameter does not exist in other branches of fine arts. The combination of the hallmarking legislation and the hallmark has allowed the detection of fakes, including the prosecution of serial offenders.
  • The UK remains the leading player on the world hallmarking stage. Its assay offices are regarded as centres of expertise and provide training to overseas countries helping them to set up hallmarking facilities.
  • The combination of hallmarking by the assay offices and of enforcement by Trading Standards Inspectors has created considerable confidence in the jewellery industry within members of the trade and the public. No clearer example was that of the introduction of palladium which needed the guarantee of the hallmark before the public had confidence to purchase palladium products.
  • Hallmarking is a tried and tested form of consumer protection which, in view of the historically high price of precious metals and the growth of international trade, is arguably more important now than ever before.

More information: https://www.assayofficelondon.co.uk/

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