This weeks Blog from Jay’s Jewellery is all about hallmarking, the legalities and how it protects you.
Hallmarking dates back to 1300 when Kind Edward I instituted the assaying of precious metals.
The act of Hallmarking is to have a independent test a material to ensure it meets the minimum requires in order to;
A - Protect the consumer so that they can guarantee they are receiving what has been described.
B - Protect the Jeweller/Retailer from unfair competition. In other words, protection from those who could potentially wish to mislead consumers.
So, what do all this funny numbers and markings mean?
There are 3 legal marks required for a hallmark, there can be more but 3 is the minimum requirement. They are; the sponsors mark, the fineness mark and the assay office mark.
The sponsors mark is the mark of the jeweller or company that has made and/or submitted the item for Hallmarking. The fineness mark is the purity of the metal, and the assay office mark identifies which of the UK’s four assay offices conducted the testing.
So on to the numbers……
Let's take Gold as the first example. We tend to use two purities in the UK, they are 9ct or 18 ct. Pure gold is 24ct and so 9ct or 18ct is proportional to this.
The 3 digit numbers that you see are parts per thousand of the minimum requirement of the alloy. So, with 9ct you will see the number 375, which is 375/1000 of the items alloy (mixture) is gold. Or, another more simpler way to understand it, 37.5% of a 9ct hallmarked item is gold, the rest are non precious metals to help strengthen and build the alloy to make it more durable to be worn as jewellery.
18ct golds mark is 750, which means the minimum amount of gold in any item is 75%
Platinum and Palladium are generally Hallmarked at a fineness of 950, or 95% pure.
When it comes to silver, the terminology is slightly different, we use the term Sterling or Britannia. Sterling Silver refers to a purity of 925 and Britannia silver has a purity of 958. Sterling and Britannia replace the term carat essentially.
However, there are exceptions…….
The four UK assay offices have exemption weights, which means that if a described Gold, Platinum, Palladium or Silver item is under a particular weight, it does not require a hallmark.
For Platinum, the exemption weight is 0.5g or less.
For Gold and Palladium, the exemption weight is 1.0g or less.
For Silver, the exemption weight is 7.78g or less.
So for any items under these weights, the can be sold as a described precious metal and not legally require a hallmark. The marks you will often see will be the fineness numbers, like 375, 750, 925 or 950. These alone are not legal hallmarks, but indicators as to what the metal may be for items under the exemption weight, particularly silver. Remember a legal hallmark by a assay office has 3 components.
If you do have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.
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