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UK Hallmarking Explained

Thursday, 23 February 2017  |  Victoria

What is a UK hallmark?

Silver, palladium, gold and platinum ('precious metals') are normally alloyed with other metals in order to improve their strength, durability and colour etc. A hallmark is a legal requirement which guarantees the purity (fineness) of the precious metal. It consists of three symbols:

  • the maker's or sponsors mark: this is a unique mark and the maker/sponsor must be registered with an assay office.
  • metal purity mark: this indicates that the metal content of the item is not less than the fineness indicated.
  • assay office mark:  this indicates the Assay Office at which the item was tested and marked (London, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Sheffield each have their own mark)
  • (optional) a year mark: a letter indicating the year in which the item was hallmarked

A hallmark is NOT a single fineness mark on an article eg a ring with a single 925 stamp - anyone can stamp these marks on any article and they do not indicate an officially recognised guarantee of the fineness of the metal.

Other countries will have different rules and not all countries have official hallmarking schemes, eg USA.

Which articles need to be hallmarked?

Any item sold in the UK (regardless of where it was manufactured) described as being made of gold, silver, palladium or platinum (subject to certain exemptions) needs to be hallmarked. Items below the following weights are exempt:

  • Silver: 7.78 grams
  • Palladium: 1 gram
  • Gold 1 gram
  • Platinum: 0.5 grams

A pre-1950 item may be described as a precious without a hallmark if the seller can prove it is of minimum fineness and was made before 1950.

Items made of gold plated base metals cannot be hallmarked (including gold filled items). A gold plated silver item can only be given the silver hallmark.

 

Further Information

Hallmarking Act 1973

British Hallmarking Council

Birmingham Assay Office

Edinburgh Assay Office

London Assay Office

Sheffield Assay Office

 


Gold Filled Explained

2 CommentsSunday, 1 May 2016  |  Victoria

Gold filled findingsGold filled findings and jewellery components are a fantastic way to introduce gold into your jewellery designs without breaking the bank, allowing you to make high quality items that will last for years.

I thought it would be helpful to share the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions about gold filled:

1. What is gold filled?

Gold filled (also known as rolled gold) comprises a solid brass (copper and zinc) core over which gold is mechanically bonded using heat and pressure. Gold filled items must contain, by law, 5% or 1/20 of gold by weight. The gold used is generally 12K or 14K, although I have seen some 10K gold filled items too. All our gold filled findings are 14K.

2. What is the difference between gold filled and gold plate?

The difference between gold filled and gold plated items is the amount of gold used over the brass core. Gold filled items must contain, by law, 5% or 1/20 of gold by weight. In contrast gold plated items usually contain a microscopic amount of gold. This means the gold layer on gold plated items can peel or flake very easily exposing the brass core underneath. Because the gold layer on gold filled items is so much thicker it will not peel or flake and lasts for years.

3. Please can you provide a bigger range of charms and pendants in gold filled.

We would love to but unfortunately it is not possible. This is because gold filled cannot be cast. Casting means pouring molten material into a mould to create a shape. This is easily done with metals such as sterling silver or gold. It is not possible with gold filled because melting gold fill would not retain the gold layers over the inner brass core. This limits the number of items that can be manufactured in gold fill to those made with wire, tube or sheet. A good alternative is to use our 14k gold vermeil pendants and connectors which will colour match 14k gold filled findings.

4. What stamps are used on gold filled items?

It is a legal requirement in the United States (where much gold filled is manufactured) to stamp, where possible, items which are gold filled. You will see 'GF 14/20' or '1/20 14K GF' indicating the item is 14K gold filled and 1/20 of gold by weight. However, not all items are big enough to stamp (you will find this with sterling silver items too). However, please be aware that countries other than the US manufacture gold filled items and can basically stamp anything onto any metal. Buy your items from a reputable supplier (like The Curious Gem!) to ensure you are getting what you are paying for.

5. Does gold filled tarnish?

Many people think that gold and gold filled does not tarnish. Unfortunately this is wrong. Pure gold (24k gold) does not tarnish because it is not alloyed (mixed) with other metals but all other karats of gold are alloyed with other metals and this is why tarnishing may occur. The higher the karat of gold the less likely it is to discolour (tarnish). Very little tarnishing will be observed in 14K gold, and it may take years before discolouration occurs. The most common causes of tarnishing are: oxidation, exposure to sulfur, differing body chemistries and exposure to perfume, hairspray, cleaning agents etc. Taking care of your jewellery and proper storage are the best methods to avoid tarnishing.


Hope this has been of interest - you can find our range of gold filled findings on our website.

 


Open Weekend on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th September 2015

Wednesday, 5 August 2015  |  Victoria

After the success of our last event we are holding another OPEN WEEKEND at our offices in Edinburgh from 10.30am to 4.00pm on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th September. 

Please join us for tea, coffee, cakes and view our entire range of gemstones, beads, pearls and findings.

No appointment is needed, just drop in at a time which suits you. There is plenty of free on-site parking and we are easily accessible by public transport.

 

 

 


Join us for our Open Weekend on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March 2015

3 CommentsTuesday, 24 February 2015  |  Victoria

We are having an OPEN WEEKEND and would love it if you could join us for tea, coffee, cakes and view our entire range of gemstones, beads, pearls and findings. We'll be open from 10.30am to 4.00pm on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th March at our offices in Edinburgh so please drop in at a time that suits you. There is plenty of free on-site parking and we are easily accessible by public transport. Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible :)