Hallmarking for Jewellery Designer Makers
Hallmarking is an important process to know about as a jeweller but what is it and how do you go about it? Here is an overview of the hallmarking process in the UK.
What is a hallmark?
Hallmarking is a process of independently verifying and officially stamping pieces of jewellery made from silver, gold, platinum or palladium.
In the UK it is the law that each item of precious metal jewellery you sell has been officially hallmarked by an Assay Office.
The hallmark shows the maker (jeweller or metalsmith), the metal, its quality or fineness, where it has been authenticated and the year in which it was stamped.
Do I need to hallmark my jewellery?
If you’re designing and making jewellery in precious metals and selling it as so, then you may well need to hallmark your pieces. It is against the law to sell precious metals un-hallmarked over a certain weight.
The weight of the piece is measured on the metal content and excludes stones. Metals over the following weight must be hallmarked:
Gold: 1.0 grams
Silver: 7.78 grams (includes metal clay)
Platinum: 0.5 grams
Palladium: 1.0 grams
(Note - weight is measured per element. A pair of earrings count as two different pieces. The same with cufflinks. For bracelets and pendants, if the charms are detachable they would be separate weights. If they are soldered to the chain it all counts as one piece).
Having a hallmark on your jewellery can also assure your customer of its authenticity though, so you may decide to have slightly lower weighted items hallmarked as well.
can i hallmark my jewellery myself?
No. Some people opt to stamp their jewellery with a stamp e.g. 925 for silver, for themselves but this is not a legal hallmark and is not sufficient for items over the weights above. The process of hallmarking is about having an independent verified check of your work.
How do I go about hallmarking my jewellery?
You need to apply for a sponsors mark (this will be your unique makers mark and form part of the hallmark) via your chosen Assay Office. This is usually made up of two to three initials and a shield around these.
You will need to complete some forms with your details and pay a fee to do this. When you have your sponsors mark, you will be able get your items of jewellery hallmarked.
The Assay Offices are listed below. You can choose to use any of the Assay Offices, you don’t have to use the one nearest to where you live. Note that they are independent of each other and have different prices so do check which is best for you. If you decide to change Assay Office you have to apply again for a makers mark and you may not be able to get the same mark as in another Office.
when should i get my work hallmarked?
As early on in the making of the piece as you can, you certainly want to do the polishing and finishing after hallmarking.
There are cases unfortunately, where items have been distorted and need reshaping or adjusting because of how they have been punched. If you are just piercing a piece and not soldering then you may want to get the silver sheet hallmarked before creating the whole item.
We suggest opting for a deep laser hallmark as this is not punched in the traditional way so tends not to damage your piece.
How does it work?
When your jewellery is finished and ready to be hallmarked, you will need to take (or post) your items to the Assay Office to be tested and stamped. You need to complete a hallnote - a form with all your details and instructions for the packet of jewellery to be hallmarked.
There is a fee for the batch of jewellery you send in to to be processed and a fee for each hallmark to be applied to each piece. You also have the option to get your hallmarking done quickly, especially handy if you have a commission, but the cost is much higher so it pays to give yourself plenty of time!
Tip: it is more economical to parcel up and send in a number of pieces at a time.
How much does it cost?
Costs vary between Assay Offices, but for the London office it costs approx £72 - £162 for your sponsors mark which will last you 10 years (which can be renewed at the end of the term) and a punch. You then pay a parcel fee and a fee per piece that requires hallmarking as and when you need it.
Where are the Assay Offices?
There are currently Assay Offices in London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Dublin. You will find much more help and information on how to apply for your hallmark at each Offices website so do your research and check which works for you.