All about Hallmarking
Hallmarking is something that most people have heard of, but that many of us don't know much about, so in this blog post we thought it would be useful to take a closer look at it. What is hallmarking, why is it useful, how does it work and what does it look like?
What is hallmarking?
In the UK (as in a number of other countries), hallmarking is a process of marking or stamping the precious metal used in any piece of jewellery or other object before it is sold. This serves to give assurances to the customer that the piece they are buying is genuinely made of the precious metal that the maker claims has been used (and at the level of purity that is being claimed), and is an important piece of consumer protection. Having jewellery hallmarked also makes it possible for the item to be traced in future and the provenance of it (including the identity of the original maker) demonstrated.
It is an offence to sell jewellery made of precious metals in the UK that has not been hallmarked and to still describe it as being made of the precious metal, unless the piece is under a certain weight. Selling un-hallmarked jewellery above the applicable weight threshold carries heavy fines and risks prosecution.
In practice what this means is that, for example, a piece of silver jewellery that should have been, but hasn't been, hallmarked cannot be described as being made from silver and can only be sold as ‘white metal’ or 'silver-coloured' metal and will therefore be indistinguishable from pieces made from cheaper materials. This will significantly affect the price that can be charged for that piece of jewellery, and will make it uneconomical to produce, which is an important element of the protection afforded to consumers.
All individuals or companies selling jewellery or other objects made from precious metals must also carry a statutory dealers' notice on their website or at events such as craft fairs: you may have seen this on jewellery stands in stores; you can find ours here.