Are you a budding silversmith and need advice on how to hallmark your pieces correctly? This blog will give you a full breakdown of what is required and how to go about getting your pieces hallmarked before sale. With answers to some of the most common questions we get from start-up jewellery businesses, you’ll be ready to send your latest pieces to your nearest Assay Office sooner than you think.
Why do I need to hallmark jewellery?
In the UK, hallmarking precious metals of a certain quality is a legal requirement. In fact, the Hallmarking Act 1973 makes it impossible to legally market your precious metal goods (of a certain quality) without hallmarks. As silver, gold, palladium and platinum are very rarely used in their pure form within jewellery pieces, it’s required that the hallmark is used so that customers can identify the quality of the jewellery piece they’re buying.
The Hallmarking Act 1973 also states that any dealer supplying precious metal jewellery should display a notice explaining the approved hallmarks, otherwise known as a Dealers Notice. This must be the notice produced by the British Hallmarking Council, and can be obtained by your nearest Assay Office.
When do you need to hallmark jewellery?
If you work primarily with silver, gold, platinum, palladium, or all of the above, you’ll need to do a little research to check whether your pieces will require hallmarking. According to current legislation, if your pieces are made entirely or partially made with silver, gold, platinum or palladium and not covered under the Assay Offices’ exemptions, you’re required to get your jewellery pieces hallmarked.
We’ve laid out the exemptions below, but if you’re ever unsure you can always contact your nearest Assay Office for more information.
Exemptions to hallmarking
Precious metal pieces below a certain weight will not require hallmarking. These include:
- Silver 7.78g
- Gold 1g
- Platinum 0.5g
- Palladium 1g
There are a number of other exemptions maintained by UK law, for example, if you sell vintage pieces, those that were made before 1950 do not require a hallmark. For a full list of exemptions, read the government’s latest advice on hallmarking.
How to get jewellery hallmarked
Now you’ve established whether or not your jewellery requires hallmarks, you can start the process.
You’ll need to follow these 5 steps:
- Send your pieces off to your nearest Assay office to be evaluated
- Once tested, they will give your work the right purity mark
- They will then add your unique sponsors mark
- They will then add the mark that indicates which Assay Office evaluated the piece
- Not yet got your own sponsor mark? Register your design with the Assay office for approval
Hallmark Guide: FAQs
How much does hallmarking cost?
The cost of hallmarking will depend on which Assay Office is most convenient for you. In the UK, there are four Assay offices: Birmingham, London, Sheffield, and Edinburgh. Each office will have its own individual pricing. However, it’s worth sending in bulk where possible as most Assay offices will charge a minimum cost, even if you only send one piece. You may find that an additional charge will be incurred if you exceed a certain number of individual pieces too. So, make sure that you count two earrings as two separate pieces, for example, as this could tip you over your original budget for hallmarking. Don’t forget about postage costs too – if you’re local to your nearest Assay Office it may benefit you to simply drop your work off for hallmarking.
What is a 925 hallmark?
Do you frequently work with sterling silver? You may know that a 925 stamp signifies 92.5% of the precious metal you’ve worked with is sterling silver. The remaining 7.5% of the metal will be another alloy. The 925 stamp on sterling silver tells your customers that the jewellery they’re buying meets current quality standards for sterling silver.
You can stamp your own work with a 925 stamp, however, this does not mean that the pieces you’re working on are hallmarked. If the sterling silver pieces you’re working on still require hallmarking it’s a good idea to go through the process of hallmarking anyway, as the Assay office you use will add the hallmarks you require anyway.
Do gold plated pieces need to be hallmarked?
Gold plated pieces will need to be hallmarked as silver. There is no need to hallmark jewellery pieces with required gold hallmark identification. You can, however, describe your gold-plated pieces as silver and gold plated. For example, in your marketing material you may want to refer to your gold-plated pieces as 925 and 9ct gold plated.
Can I add my sponsor mark to pieces that don’t need hallmarking?
Of course! Your sponsor mark is unique to you and can be added to all your pieces, whether they require hallmarking or not. Only when you have three of the compulsory identification stamps will your piece be hallmarked. But your sponsor mark is just a mark of your craftmanship and your brand, so if you can add to those pieces that don’t require hallmarking, at lease it means that your customer base will recognise your work.
We hope you’ve found our hallmarking tips useful. For further advice on getting hallmarking right first time, take a look at our step by step guide on how to hallmark jewellery.