What is Hallmarking?
Hallmarking dates back to the 14th century and is one of the earliest forms of consumer protection in the UK. It was introduced by King Edward 1 and the word “Hallmark” comes from the need for makers to bring their goods to “Goldsmiths Hall” in London for “marking”.
Today, hallmarking is a guarantee of quality and fineness on precious metals in the UK and is a legal requirement on silver items that weigh over 7.78 grams, gold and palladium items over 1 gram and platinum items over 0.5 grams.
The hallmark is a code that indicates what the metal is, who made it, where it was assayed and in which year. These are a series of boxes that are stamped or lasered onto the finished item-if you look inside a ring or on a piece of silver you’ll be able to make out these symbols-even if they are too small to decipher.
The Royal Mint hallmark is made up of:
The Sponsor’s mark-in this case this is the initials of our CEO Anne Jessopp.
The Millesimal Fineness mark is next-here it is the code for Sterling Silver. Sterling silver is 925 parts per 1000, the silver being an alloy.
The Assay mark on our items is from London (a leopard’s head) or Birmingham (an anchor).
The Fineness mark is represented by the Lion “passant” (with the paw in the air). This represents Sterling Silver.
The Date letter is next-this one, the “t” is for 2018.
The final box is special to The Royal Mint and represents The White Tower at the Tower of London-where we started working with precious metals and coins over 700 years ago.
If you have a magnifying glass or loupe, then why not check out some items you already own-it’s detective work on metal! You can get more information from The London Assay office at https://www.assayofficelondon.co.uk or Birmingham Assay office at https://theassayoffice.co.uk.