UK Hallmarking Explained
23 February 2017 | Victoria
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 traditional method to apply a hallmark is to strike the item with a punch, however, technology now means the marks can also be applied using a laser. 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?
It is a legal requirement for 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) to have a UK recognised hallmark. Items below the following weights are exempt:
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.