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A Guide to Hallmarks

The official Hallmarking guide supplied by the Birmingham Assay Office.

In the UK it is illegal to sell or describe any item as gold, silver or platinum or palladium unless it is hallmarked and weighs more than 1g if gold or palladium, 7.78g if silver or 0.5g for platinum.  The hallmark guarantees the precious metal content of the item you are buying, giving you complete reassurance.

Example of a stamped UK Hallmark denoting a 925 Sterling Silver (Lion) item produced by (OW) Owen Waterhouse from the Sheffield Assay Office (Rose Crest) in 2006 as denoted by the 'g' stamp.

Hallmarks are applied in one of three ways. The traditional method of hand punching and hydraulic press punching are still widely used throughout the industry but in the 21st century, many hallmarks are now laser etched onto items, particularly for hollow, highly finished or intricate items or jewellery and watched.

Compulsory Marks

The sponsors mark is the unique mark of the company or person responsible for sending the article for hallmarking.  The sponsor maybe the original manufacturer, importer, wholesaler, retailer or an individual. To obtain a Sponsors mark you must register with an Assay Office.

UK Sponsors Hallmark Example

The Standard Hallmark Mark demonstrates the standard of finesse, i.e. the purity of the precious metal content in parts per 1000.  For example, 18 carat gold is 750 parts per 1000 by weight.

Gold, Silver, Platinum & Palladium UK Hallmarks

The Assay Office Mark shows which Assay Office tested and marked the item.

UK Assay Office Hallmarks

Optional marks

The Date Mark defined by a stamped letter shows the year in which the article was hallmarked.

UK Year Stamp Hallmark Example

Traditional Marks – Still in use today, these traditional marks are sometimes used to show the type of metal.
Commemorative marks – These are special hallmarks to celebrate major events such as the Queens Golden Jubilee (2002) and passing of the Millennium (1999 – 2000).

Commemorative Hallmark Example

International Convention Marks – Since 1972 the UK has been a signatory to the International Convention on Hallmarks. This means that UK Assay Offices can apply the common control mark which will then be recognised by all member countries in the convention.  Conversely, convention hallmarks that have been applied in other member countries are recognised in the UK.

Common Control Hallmark Example

If you have any questions regarding your hallmarked gold, silver, platinum or palladium, or if you would like to buy or sell precious metals, call our sales office on 0121 523 1047 or email [email protected].

Article Last Updated: Monday, July 26, 2010