What is hallmarking and is every item hallmarked?
You may have noticed, either from buying my jewellery or buying somewhere else, that some items are hallmarked.
A hallmark is a mark applied to precious metals to indicate the amount of pure metal in the alloy. So for my jewellery it shows it is made of either Sterling Silver or 999 Silver, which is silver clay. Most of my pieces are made of Sterling or 925 Silver.
Not every piece has to be hallmarked and every country has its own rules and regulations. Every alloy has its own rules as well. In the UK every silver item weighing more than 7.78 grams has to be hallmarked to be sold legally. Some designers choose to hallmark all pieces, but this isn't compulsory. Some of my smaller pieces are hallmarked and of course every larger piece has been given a hallmark as well.
My jewellery is hallmarked by the Assay Office in London. After I've made my jewellery I send it off to them, it is always a relief when I track the parcel and I see it has been delivered safely.
A hallmark in the UK has five different marks. The sponsor's mark, which is the maker's mark. I had to register and apply for it with the Assay Office and you can see it in the picture here. A traditional fineness mark, marking the type of silver. The millesimal fineness mark, showing the quality and metal type as well. The Assay Office mark, every Assay Office has their own mark, London's mark is a leopard's head. The date letter mark, showing the year in which it was hallmarked. The traditional fineness mark and the date letter mark aren't compulsory but are standard at the London Assay Office.
It is really interesting to learn more about the process and history of hallmarking. Not only silver but gold, platinum and palladium all have to e hallmarked as well. If you would like to learn more about it you can find a lot more information on the Assay Office London's website.