What are Hallmarks?
A hallmark consists of compulsory symbols or marks which give information about the precious metal in the jewellery. There are a few different symbols which mean different things.
If you have ever been lucky enough to see some fine jewellery up close you may have noticed some small marks on it. These are the hallmarks. These hallmarks can be found on the clasps of chains and bracelets, on the inside of rings, or by the bail of a pendant.
They prove that they are guaranteed and official. It is helpful for buyers to look out for these, so you know that what you are getting is what it claims to be.
What do hallmarks mean?
In the UK the hallmark is made up of several inscriptions. These inscriptions tell you:
- Who made it
- Guaranteed standard of fineness, or type of metal
- The Assay Office where the article was tested and marked
- The year it was tested and marked (now optional)
The marks certify noble metals such as platinum, silver, and gold. All those metals can be found in our collections. These show the article of jewellery meets the legal standard.
Where do hallmarks come from?
We don’t hallmark the jewellery ourselves. It has to be submitted to one of the four Assay Offices in the UK or within the International Convention. This is where the checks and the marking take place.
The Assay Offices that are in charge of the hallmark carry out a test, where they use a non-destructive method using XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry) machines to test the metal. Traditionally they would take a tiny piece of the metal to test it. This test is to see which precious metal is contained within the jewellery. This is called Sampling.
They also decide whether the precious metal content within the jewellery meets the required standard. This is called Assaying. You can learn more about it here.
The final step is then to actually mark the jewellery. They apply the appropriate marks denoting the maker, the type of metal, and where it was tested. This is the part called Hallmarking. You can learn more about it here.
The history of hallmarks
Hallmarks have been around since the 4th century when silver bars under the rule of Emperor Augustinian were found marked. Henry III made the first attempts to regulate gold and other precious metals. He also wanted to choose certain jewellers to oversee the craft. A little later, Edward I enacted a statute which required silver and gold to all be of a certain standard. Since 1327, the Goldsmith Company began and then it has been compulsory in the UK that hallmarks are used for precious metals. In 1975, a new Hallmarking Act came into place, which included the introduction of marks for platinum, featuring an orb and a cross.
You can read more about the history of hallmarks here.
Hallmarks and Maya Magal
Maya was inspired by hallmarks, and actually designed a collection which showcased the potential beauty of these marks. The collection had the marks as the predominant feature of each piece. The collection showed oversized hallmark designs on the front of bracelets, rings, and necklaces.
All of our jewellery has been hallmarked so you know exactly what you’re getting. We only use the best, and the hallmark shows that.
Be sure to check out our solid gold jewellery and look for the hallmarks yourself.