Hallmarking in the United Kingdom dates back more than 700 years and is the oldest form of consumer protection.
A hallmark is the authorised stamp from an Assay Office, which is found on items of gold, silver, palladium and platinum. It indicates the authenticity and standard of the precious metal and shows that the item has been independently tested by one of the UK’s four Assay Offices in London, Birmingham, Sheffield or Edinburgh.
Precious metals are rarely used in their purest form but are usually alloyed with other metals. As it’s not possible to detect precious metal content by sight or touch, it’s a legal requirement under the UK Hallmarking Act (1973) to hallmark articles containing precious metals.
A hallmark indicates Who, What, Where and When:
• The Sponsor’s (or Maker’s) Mark shows who made the article.
• The Fineness Mark guarantees the precious metal content.
• The Assay Office Mark shows where it was hallmarked.
• The unique letter mark for each year shows when it was hallmarked (not compulsory).