When buying or selling gold, it’s important to determine the purity, place of manufacture and other important components to ensure your price is accurate and fair. This is where the gold hallmarks come in.
Cash4Gold-Now have created a guide to help you understand what hallmarks mean, why they are necessary and how to use them to identify the type and purity of the metal.
What is a British gold hallmark?
All gold and precious metals produced and sold in the UK must adhere to the Control and Marking of Articles of Precious Metals, otherwise known as the Common Control Mark. This Control Mark states that all gold must have markings to identify various characteristics but mainly to signify that the metal conforms to the strict standards of fineness and purity.
Hallmarks identify where the metal was hallmarked, what it’s made from and who hallmarked it. They are usually a sequence of symbols that are usually tiny and hard to see without a magnifying glass.
The minimum weight of precious metals that require them to be hallmarked in the UK are:
- 0.5 grams for platinum
- 1 gram for gold
- 1 gram for palladium
- 7.78 grams for silver
Why do we have gold hallmarks?
Hallmarks are a way to regulate the manufacturing of precious metals like gold and silver and ensure they go through the same checking and regulation processes to ensure consistent quality. Due to precious metals being of high value, it’s important to be able to determine whether an item is solid gold or silver. By checking for hallmarks, you protect yourself from disingenuous sellers or manufacturers.
How to identify an English gold hallmark
The traditional UK hallmark includes:
This mark is otherwise known as the Maker’s Mark, as it identifies the registered mark of the company or individual that had the item hallmarked, which could be the manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer or another individual. The mark shows a set of chosen initials surrounded by a shield in some form. There are between two and five initials included.
Millesimal Fineness Mark or Standard Mark
This section of the hallmark tells you the fineness, or in other words, the purity, of the metal and its type. Unlike the traditional fineness mark, this section is now compulsory to abide by the Common Control Mark. The fineness is identified out of a thousand and metal is hallmarked to the minimal possible fineness it could be to avoid gold or other precious metals being overvalued.
The shape surrounding the fineness number signifies the type of metal, for example, silver is an oval and gold is an octagon.
The different finenesses hallmarked include:
- Gold 375 (9 karat), 585 (14 karat), 750 (18 karat), 916 (22 karat) and 999
- Silver 800, 925 (sterling) and 999 (Britannia)
- Platinum 850, 900, 950 and 999
- Palladium 500, 950 and 999
Assay Office Mark
The next symbol is related to where your metal was tested and hallmarked. For example, the leopard head is the town mark for London which shows the metal was tested and approved in London, Birmingham’s symbol is an anchor, and Edinburgh is a castle.
Date Letter Mark
The date symbol signifies the year that the metal was hallmarked. Each year, the font, letter, case and shape of the shield used when hallmarking metal changes to ensure it’s unique to that year.
Traditional Fineness Mark
This part of the hallmark won’t be found in all instances as it is an optional symbol. There are various symbols to look out for that identify the type of precious metal. For example, a crown identifies gold and a dragon identifies sterling silver.
If your items are made from mixed metals, you should also lookout for a hallmark that may identify the different metals contained.
If precious metals are hallmarked during a historical year, for example, a Silver, Golden, or Diamond Jubilee, there is an extra hallmark to commemorate the year and honour the event.
International Convention Marks
In addition to the English gold hallmark conventions, there is also an international convention on hallmarks that has its own Common Control Marks. These can be applied in the UK and be recognised in all other countries that are members of the convention, including Austria, Poland and Israel. Common Control Marks can be identified by weighing scales with the fineness number out of a thousand inside.
How are precious metal items hallmarked?
Traditionally, precious metal items have been hallmarked using stamps. More recently, hallmarks have been added using lasers which avoid any misshaping of the item and ensure the hallmark isn’t obvious over time.
There are four Assay Offices in the UK located in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh where all gold and precious metals are hallmarked. Each Assay Office has its own mark of identification as mentioned above.
Looking to have your gold valued?
Not all items of jewellery have hallmarks but at Cash4gold-now, we can assess and value all types of precious metals, with or without hallmarks with our experienced valuation team and the use the most up to date technology.
If you have gold, silver, platinum or palladium items around your home or in your possession that you would like to have valued, Cash4Gold-Now has a trusted and reliable valuation process in place. You can simply request a selling pack via our website or contact the team for further information.