Purchasing or selling antique gold such as jewellery can be more difficult than selling more recently possessed jewellery. This can be due to its condition, design or lack of usual hallmarking. Hallmarks help us to identify where, when and by whom a piece of gold has been made by.
Nowadays, hallmarking is a highly standardised and regulated system making it easy to understand how old gold is and its purity. This wasn’t the case in previous centuries, and hallmarks have differed and evolved, meaning they vary hugely in antique and period jewellery.
Cash4Gold-Now has outlined how to understand antique gold hallmarks such as Victorian gold hallmarks. Whether you have your antique gold jewellery or items to have valued, or you are simply interested in how hallmarking has changed over time, this guide should help to shed some light on how to read hallmarks.
Does antique gold have hallmarks?
Hallmarking originated in the 1300s and although hallmarks can be found on many pieces of antique gold, there were some periods in history where hallmarking was much less standardised.
Throughout the Georgian and Victorian eras, in particular, gold was often manufactured and sold without hallmarks making it more difficult to identify and value antique gold from these eras.
What’s more, just because gold doesn’t have hallmarks present, this doesn’t mean it is any less valuable. Some extremely valuable and sought after antique gold can be non-hallmarked.
In these instances, it’s important to have your gold valued by professionals who can test its purity without needing to use hallmarks.
How can you read antique gold hallmarks?
There are various key marks used in hallmarks over the centuries to look out for when having antique gold valued, or when trying to identify its age or purity yourself.
These markings essentially depict key characteristics of the gold, including the purity of the gold itself, who manufactured it, where it was manufactured, and when.
There are various other, less common marks to look out for too that signify additional information like the designer or retailer.
Standard, Purity or Millesimal Fineness Marks
Arguably the most important antique gold hallmark to look out for is the purity mark, signifying the karat and percentage of pure gold that was used in the making of a piece.
Gold is always alloyed with other metals during the manufacturing process because it is far too soft and malleable on its own to be suitable for purposes like jewellery, where the items need to be durable and hard-wearing.
The purity mark, therefore, lets you know how much pure gold was used in making a certain piece of jewellery. Purity marks have been used for centuries making them one of the first marks you should look for when valuing antique gold jewellery, however, countries have different standards.
For example, if your jewellery was made in the UK, you should typically find purity stamped in karats, whereas other countries use symbols to denote purity that can be harder to decipher.
You may also notice an additional mark relating to the purity of your gold, known as the millesimal fineness mark. These were and are optional to stamp on jewellery and are more commonly seen on antique gold or silver. They signify the type of precious metal, with a crown for gold and a lion for sterling silver.
Understanding UK gold hallmarks can be easier than foreign gold hallmarks due to the standardisation of the British hallmarking system.
If you have come to possess antique gold and are struggling to identify hallmarks, you should seek professional advice from gold valuers like our team at Cash4Gold-Now, who can provide an accurate price and share our expertise.
Sponsor’s or Maker’s Marks
The maker’s mark identifies who manufactured the gold, or who decided its purity. When it comes to antique gold hallmarking, maker’s marks can differ significantly as regulations have evolved.
Some marks may look like a unique picture, similar to a logo, whereas others will show the maker’s initials or full name. When looking for a maker’s mark on antique gold, look out for initials, a pictorial symbol or shape, or a name.
Assay Office or Town Marks
Town marks were introduced around the period of the renaissance and were necessary due to the increase in the number of assay offices across the UK. The marks show the town that your antique gold was assayed in and will show a pictorial mark or shield-type logo that represents a certain assay office.
While the town mark may not necessarily affect the value of antique gold, it is another trust factor and shows whether the gold has been assayed by a reputable office.
These marks have been around since the 1400s meaning they’re another important antique gold hallmark to look out for. Date letters are essentially timestamps, used to identify when the gold was assayed, a process all gold and silver had to go through to prevent the production of fake items or fraudulent activity.
Every quarter of a century, the letter has changed, meaning you can identify the rough period that your antique gold was hallmarked if it has a date letter mark stamped.
Have your antique gold valued today
Cash4Gold-Now has been in the gold industry for decades, with a high level of expertise on how to accurately value gold items. We can help you to value your antique gold and offer a competitive, fair price so you can exchange unworn or unloved items for quick cash in the bank.
Our valuation process is highly detailed and trusted by our customers, proven by our thousands of glowing reviews on TrustPilot. You can request a free, secure gold selling pack via our website or get in touch for more information on our service.