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A hallmark is an official mark struck on items made of precious metals. This guarantees the purity/fineness of the metal. Hallmarks are a legal requirement on products of a certain weight, depending on the metal being marked.
These are incredibly important to us at P3PPER’S.
THE REASON FOR HALLMARKS
Gold and silver are expensive in their pure forms and are too soft to be used for jewellery, so they are mixed with other metals known as alloys, to make them affordable and stronger. Platinum’s density and weight means when combined with other metals it makes it easier to craft. Palladium is rarely used in its purest form, with alloys added it achieves the desired strength and durability.
It can be tricky to see the physical difference between metals such as white gold, platinum and palladium, as they can be very similar in colour, but do vary dramatically in price.
The only reliable guarantee, to ensure the metal purity/fineness has been reached is for the product to be sent to an Assay Office, where it will be tested before being struck with the relevant hallmark.
HOW TO RECOGNISE HALLMARKS AND WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
A hallmark consists of three parts, which was made compulsory from 1st January 1999:
THE SPONSOR’S MARK (OUR MARK)
Our sponsor’s mark (maker’s mark) comprises of the initials MM within a surrounding shield and it is registered with the Assay Office London. Each sponsors’ mark is unique and therefore provides a traceable link to the source of an article.
THE STANDARD MARK
The standard mark will indicate the fineness of the metal in parts per thousand, this will tell you the percentage of pure gold, silver, platinum or palladium used in the article. The shape of the shield around the number will tell you what metal it is: Silver = Oval; Gold = Oblong with cut corners; Platinum = Five sided ‘house shape’; Palladium = 3 adjoining circles.
THE ASSAY MARK
The assay or ‘town’ mark. There are only four Assay Offices in the United Kingdom, and each one holds their own hallmark symbol, telling the consumer where the article has been assayed (tested).
ARTICLES EXEMPT FOR HALLMARKING
Items weighing less than the following will not carry a hallmark: Silver weighing less than 7.78g, Gold and Palladium weighing less than 1g, and Platinum weighing less than 0.5g.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON HALLMARKING
International convention mark is not limited to Britain. The convention mark will be recognised by all members within the International convention. The convention hallmark shows a pair of scales with the fineness of the metal used.