Purchasing antique gold jewelry can be a challenge. It’s hard to know how old the piece is, what style it is, or what kind of gold went into making the piece? Hallmarks are the signposts on your journey of discovery, but there are lots of side roads you will travel in learning about the marks and their meanings. Hallmarks are used to identify the purity of metals, particularly gold and silver. The marks are stamped into the metal and can tell you both about the metal’s purity and the history of the piece: where it was made, what year, and the manufacturer. Hallmarks were used to assure the buyer the piece had a certain quality of metal, and to identify who made the jewelry and where. The marks have been used for thousands of years. According to a legend , King Hiero II was concerned that a gold wreath crown he had purchased was not made of the highest quality gold. In fact, he believed it had been mixed with silver.
Although reputable firms mark their jewelry registering marks is not required. A complete guide to identifying estate jewelry. Jewelry gold hallmarks and makers marks. Have a look at your piece of jewellery. A mark stamped on articles of mainly gold and silver.
Find out how to interpret English Hallmarks. Learn what the hallmarks on your silver and gold jewelry mean and how to use the date letter look-up charts. a cellular connection, you can take your printout or purchase pocket guide on Amazon.
Gold quality stamps and hallmarks have been used for centuries to affirmatively identify the type of gold used in the given jewellery as well as who tested or confirmed the quality of gold involved as well. Eventually, these markings where then modified to identify a given goldsmith involved in the manufacturing as a branding stamp. Why have these marking continued into modern times with all the paperwork available and ability to digitally record data by the millions of records with computers?
The reason is simple. How easy can the average person tell one gold jewellery item from another? Some think that the colour of the gold makes a difference that can be used as a metric but in reality most people just examining by eyesight alone cannot tell the difference between a 14 karat gold ring and a 24 karat gold ring shaped the same. And that reason by itself has been more than enough to maintain the hallmark and stamp system that has existed for so many years.
The use of gold hallmarks is definitely not new. In fact, the very first usage of gold jewellery hallmarks dates back to the s. Hallmarking was invented to both identify the purity of the gold involved in a jewellery item as well as to identify who rated the piece and whether they could be trusted as a tester.
Both were invaluable in a time when gold was regularly used for premium jewellery, coins and value protection.
The History of UK Hallmarking
The date letter and the traditional fineness marks are no longer compulsory components of the hallmark. However, we believe that the date letter is a very important component of the hallmark, as it is the easiest way to date an item and research has shown that most of our customers still want to see the traditional fineness mark on the hallmark.
Unlike some of the other UK assay offices, we do not charge any extra to apply the two non-compulsory marks.
How to date silver, gold, and platinum by the assay and fineness marks stamped on these articles. The Fineness mark is a representation of the assayed purity of.
The passage of time and repair work has marred or eliminated marks from many pieces making them harder to identify the precious metal content, the country of manufacturer or the maker. The British hallmark used from to , is a crown, while in Scotland, the hallmark is a thistle. The British only used 18 or 22 karat gold during this time. The karatage is usually the karat number, followed by a c, ct, or carat.
It may be marked or , as well. After , the British begin to hallmark jewelry pieces made in 9, 12, and 15 karat gold as well and the crown is still used, however, the karatage is indicated with a mark that denotes the fineness in parts per thousand, for example the mark is nine karat, is 12 karat, and is 15 karat. In , 14 karat, often marked , replaced 12 karat and 15 karat alloys. In addition to the crown and fineness marks, assay marks and date letters are used that provide a great deal of information about a piece.
French gold pieces made after bore an Eagle hallmark indicating a fineness of at least 18 karat and assayed French pieces must meet or exceed this standard. Hallmarking systems are developed and implemented in Austro-Hungary, Russia, Sweden, and Finland in the 19th century.
Case Marks: Marks in Watch Cases
The standards of fineness for gold and silver are also stipulated. Edward I tried again to prevent frauds being committed by goldsmiths, passing a statute for this purpose. Silver had to be of sterling standard Goldsmiths outside London were also supposed to keep to the same standards. III c.
Marks found in watch cases such as hallmarks, sponsor’s mark, date letter, assay Gold and silver watch cases submitted for hallmarking at a British assay For a very quick guide to reading traditional British hallmarks, go to.
Hallmarks, research and identification. Arminjon, Catherine. Imprimerie Nationale, Paris. Bauer, Ronnie History of hallmarks. NCJV Valuer, v. Bly, John. Shire, Princes Risborough. Sheffield Assay Office, Sheffield,England. Brand name and trademark guide. Brave new world of Hallmarking Goldsmith’s Review, pp. Carre, Louis. Librairie F.
Metal Jewellery Hallmarks Explained
Hallmarking, which has been carried out in the UK for nearly years, represents the earliest form of consumer protection. Hallmarks are small markings stamped on gold, silver and platinum articles. A hallmark means that the article has been independently tested at an Assay Office and guarantees that it conforms to all legal standards of purity fineness.
Heathrow Service · Fairtrade Marks · Rules for Submission and Service Guide the Touch Warden on a weekly basis It also led to the introduction of the date only plate stamped with sterling silver marks throughout this period was gold.
Silver Dictionary’ of A Small Collection of Antique Silver and Objects of vertu , a pages richly illustrated website offering all you need to know about antique silver, sterling silver, silverplate, Sheffield plate, electroplate silver, silverware, flatware, tea services and tea complements, marks and hallmarks, articles, books, auction catalogs, famous silversmiths Tiffany, Gorham, Jensen, Elkington , history, oddities In some countries, the testing of precious metal objects and marking of purity is controlled by a national assay office.
Depending on the national legislation the use of hallmarks may be compulsory, voluntary or provided by a manufacturer’s declaration. UK hallmarking is organized on a mixed system of compulsory and voluntary marks. The British hallmarking system was widely modified in and some of the traditional marks became optional symbols applied only on request alongside the compulsory hallmarks. Henceforth, future generation of collectors will fewer and fewer find the full set of hallmarks that for hundreds of years has characterized the British silver.
A Hallmark is now made up of three compulsory symbols with the addition of some voluntary marks. This mark consists of at least two letters within a shield of various shape , and no two marks are the same. Metal and fineness purity mark Compulsory marks Indicates the precious metal content of the object, and that it is not less than the fineness indicated. The fineness is indicated by a millesimal number e. This number is contained in a shield of oval shape for silver and of octagonal shape for gold.
Date Mark Voluntary mark After a date letter indicating the year of hallmarking can be applied voluntarily in addition to the compulsory marks. The date letters are the same on the four Assay Offices.
The statute made it the responsibility of the Wardens of the Goldsmiths’ Guild to mark all items of sterling standard with a leopard’s head stamp.
A simple and easy to understand gold hallmark guide that explains British The final stamp on our ring is the date stamp which tells us the year this item was.
Want to learn more about the origins of gold and silver hallmarks? The origins of jewellery hallmarking can be traced as far back as A. D when the first standards of gold and silver quality were officially laid down. However, the true beginning of hallmarking as we know it today dates from A. It was at this very early stage that the standard of acceptable fineness for silver was set at Today, jewellery hallmarking, alongside all hallmarking is governed by the Hallmarking Act of This 39 page document outlines the current British legislation covering all items made from precious metal.
UK hallmarking regulations are some of the strictest in the world, and we are one of only a few countries that have compulsory statutory hallmarking. The only exceptions to these rules are items which fall below a certain weight, and they can be sold unmarked. The weight thresholds are as follows:. Anatomy of a Hallmark image source: Birmingham Assay Office.
The regulations regarding the number of hallmarks applied to each piece of jewellery have also been subject to much change over the decades. Instead, these are now optional and can be requested for larger items where space is not limited and the hallmark can enjoy a prime position.