about hallmarking

you've probably heard the term 'hallmarking' before, but what does it actually mean? well, here's everything you need to know.

what is hallmarking?

Hallmarking refers to a mark that is applied to precious metals (platinum, gold, palladium or silver) to certify the metal purity. A hallmark verifies that the item of jewellery has been independently tested by the assay office, to ensure that it meets all legal standards of purity. It's your guarantee that an item is what it says!

why do we hallmark?

We hallmark all our sterling silver jewellery which weighs over 7.78g and all our 9ct gold jewellery weighing over 1g, not only because it is a legal requirement but because you cannot tell the precious metal content of an item with the naked eye. Hallmarking ensures that our customers feel confident knowing that their jewellery is made from what we say it is.

when should an item be hallmarked?

it is a legal requirement that all silver items over 7.78 g and all gold items over 1 gram need to have a full uk hallmark. you may notice that some of our items have a 925 or 375 stamp. stamps such as โ€œ925โ€ and โ€œ375โ€ are applied by some manufacturers, and although indicative of the metal purity, are not full uk hallmarks. a lot of our jewellery is stamped rather than hallmarked, as the majority of our pieces are quite dainty and light, and therefore do not meet the requirement for a hallmark. we try to keep our stamps and hallmarks pretty small so that they do not affect the look of the jewellery, so you might have to look closely to see it!

items weighing less than the following do not require a hallmark:

  • gold weighing less than 1 gram
  • silver weighing less than 7.78 grams
  • platinum weighing less than 0.5 grams
  • palladium weighing less than 1 gram

how to recognise hallmarks

A full, traditional hallmark consists of five marks:

  • sponsor's mark
  • traditional fineness mark
  • millesimal fineness mark
  • assay office mark
  • date letter mark

  • but only three of these are compulsory. that being the sponsorโ€™s mark, millesimal fineness mark and the assay office mark

    The sponsor's mark is the mark of the company that is sending the article for hallmarking. you may have noticed that our mark is a little jb. The millesimal fineness mark indicates the purity of the precious metal content in parts per 1000 in relation to the standard recognised in the UK. For example, 9ct gold will have a mark of 375, and sterling silver will have a mark of 925. The final mark, the assay office mark tells you which assay office tested and hallmarked the article. Our items are hallmarked by the edinburgh assay office and therefore you will see a small castle mark on our hallmarked items.

    who runs the assay office?

    The 4 assay offices are independently run and each charges customers to have their items marked. The assay offices are overseen by the British Hallmarking Council (BMC) and each Assay office is represented by 1 or 2 councilors on the BMC with optional the addition of two co-opted members outside the assay offices. 

    The BMC is funded completely by the Assay offices.

    hallmarking abroad

    The UK & Ireland very strong hallmarking regimes that ensures customers receive what they think they are purchasing, most countries set their own rules.

  • Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช no hallmarking of any items in silver or gold required
  • Ireland ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช all items in silver, palladium, gold and platinum must be hallmarked
  • France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท hallmarking is required but can be applied by the manufacturer
  • Australia ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ & New Zealand ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ no hallmarking is required

  • There is a special scheme called the Common Control Mechanism or International Convention on Hallmarks. Countries that are in the scheme agree they will accept items from other countries if they have the Convention Mark.

    Sterling Silver and 9ct Gold Convention Marks

    Sterling Silver and 9ct Gold Convention Marks

    The countries in the scheme are: Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

    what is not a hallmark?

    what is not a hallmark?

    you may find that some silver jewellery is stamped with .925 and some gold jewellery is stamped with .375. These stamps are not hallmarks and should not be taken as a guarantee of fineness. 

    how to read silver hallmarks?

     A sterling silver item in the UK will have a hallmark with at least 3 symbols. It will have an oval with the numbers 925 inside it. This shows it is sterling silver made from 92.5% silver (this is the most common standard for silver globally). It will have a makers mark which can be any shape and will generally have 2 or 3 letters in it telling you who has put the item for sale. This might not necessarily be the person that made the item. Finally, there will be one of four marks that shows which assay office applied the hallmark to the item. This will be a square chamfered mark (a square with the corners cut off). 

    does all gold have a hallmark in the UK?

    not all gold in the UK has to have a hallmark. items under 1 gram are exempt from hallmarking, so there are some light items that will not carry a hallmark. items like earrings are weighed as singles and each will require its own hallmark. therefore, if one single earring of the pair weighs under 1g, it will not require a hallmark.

    what do hallmarks mean?

    They tell you; the metal an item is made from, the purity of that metal, where it was marked & who sent it for hallmarking. In addition to this, there can be marks showing; the year it was marked, an international symbol called the CCM which enables items to be sold between countries, and sometimes a Special Commemorative mark - for example, there was one for the Diamond Jubilee 

    how to read hallmarks

    With difficulty ๐Ÿ”ฌ!. We have discussed how to understand the marks once you have read them. However, reading the marks themselves can be half the battle as often they are very small. We could recommend using a jeweler's loupe with 10x/20x magnification and a spot with bright natural light. Adequate, but not amazing quality, loupes can be purchased for around ยฃ5 on eBay. 

    Have any questions about hallmarks? Get in touch with our customer service team.