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Jewellery and Hallmarking

Hallmarking on the three main precious metals, platinum, gold and silver, is only mandatory when the finished item is over a certain weight. In the UK this is 0.5g for platinum, 1g for gold and 7.78g for silver. This means that all items under this weight need not be hallmarked, although they will usually carry some kind of mark declaring the quality i.e. a piece of sterling silver will often carry a ‘925’ mark made by the manufacturer to signify 92.5% silver content (the silver content required for sterling silver).

Indeed, although obviously silver is available in far larger quantities than either gold or platinum, which is reflected in the price, one of the other factors that helps to keep smaller items of silver jewellery so affordable is the lack of hallmarking – it costs money to have an item hallmarked by an Assay Office.

Although silver under 7.78g and gold under 1g may not need to be hallmarked, there are restrictions in place when selling such items. You cannot for instance sell and item as ‘silver’ unless it is actually silver of 92.5% purity or better. This in effect means that you should be perfectly safe buying any jewellery under the minimum hallmarking weights even if unhallmarked from any ‘legitimate’ retailer, be they online or in the high street. If the store in question declares an item of jewellery to be made from a certain material then it has to be made from it.

As for jewellery that is fully hallmarked, recognising the hallmark can be a little trickier now than in the past. Any jewellery hallmarked in the UK conforms to a set format declaring the Assay Office that the item was hallmarked at, date and quality of the jewellery i.e. a ‘925’ inside a set of scales for sterling silver jewellery. However, jewellery manufactured within the European Economic Area (EEA) often carries marks a little different from those found in the UK but which are still valid for jewellery sold in the UK.

Despite this much of the jewellery sold in the UK is manufactured in the Far East and if over the minimum weights, will require assaying and hallmarking when it reaches the UK. As stated though, even jewellery not hallmarked will usually carry a symbol stating fineness stamped on it by the manufacturer.