what is a hallmark?

  • A hallmark consists of a series of marks applied to articles of the precious metals platinum, gold, palladium and silver

  • It means that the article has been independently tested

  • It guarantees that it conforms to all legal standards of purity (fineness)

  • And it guarantees provenance by telling you, as a minimum legal requirement, where the piece was hallmarked, what the article is made from, and who sent the article for hallmarking.

    • All four Assay Offices have a legislative remit to control standards of precious metal being sold in the UK. They do this by assaying (testing) the precious metal content, then applying the hallmark. It’s a legal requirement for silver over 7.78g, gold and palladium over 1g, and platinum over 0.5g to have a UK recognised hallmark. 

    • 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.

what do the hallmarks stand for?

  • Reading from left to right on a traditional hallmark, the first mark on the far left is the Maker's Mark (mine is ALF, as you can see in the grainy photo above - who knew close-up photography was such an art!?)

    • At this point, there is an optional mark that can be added here, for example a lion indicates sterling silver and a crown indicates gold​

  • Next is the metal fineness (or purity) mark.  I use sterling silver primarily, which is 925 (925 parts of pure silver in the alloy, out of 1000)

  • Then there is an Assay Office mark, to show where the jewellery has been tested. There are 4 Assay Offices in the UK - London, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Sheffield.  Each has it's own Town Mark.  I always use the London Assay Office, which uses a Leopard as it's Town Mark

  • The final mark is the date mark.  This was compulsory until 1999, but is now optional.  2020 is marked by the letter 'V'.  The dates change on the 1st of January each year

  • Some of my work includes elements of copper.  this is usually recognised with '+Metal' stamped after the traditional hallmark