Lets talk about hallmarking of jewellery and silverware.

Lets talk about hallmarking of jewellery and silverware.

What is a Hallmark?

Well put simply it tells you what your item is, be it jewellery or silverware?

A hallmark is made up today of 4 marks.

Where it was hallmarked, year it was hallmarked, quality of the metal and who made it.

So in the United Kingdom there are 4 assay offices, these are where you can get your jewellery or silverware marked. These are London represented by the leopard, Birmingham represented by the anchor, Sheffield represented by the rose and Edinburgh represented by the castle.

Then the date letter, which runs from A through to Z, with the exception of a few letters that could cause confusion, I and J. So if you commission a jeweller or a silversmith to make you something in 2021 it would be marked with the letter W.

Now the fineness mark. Silver, Palladium, Gold and Platinum.

Silver has 4 types of marks.

  • This is 800 parts per 1,000 silver, this is the strongest silver as fine silver is soft. This is not really used today but used to be for cutlery.
  • This is 925 parts per 1,000 silver, the most common in silverware and jewellery. Commonly referred to as Sterling Silver.
  • 958 parts per 1,000 silver. This is mainly used for press forming, as it is very malleable and referred to as Britannia Silver.
  • 999 parts per 1,000 silver, referred to as pure silver.

NOTE, if the item of silver weighs under 7.78 grams then it does not have to be hallmarked by law, anything over and it is an criminal offence to sell it as silver.

Gold has 6 types of mark.

  • 375, which is 9 caret
  • 585, which is 14 caret
  • 750 which is 18 caret
  • 916 which is 22 caret
  • 990 and 999, again as per silver this is the amount of gold per 1,000.

NOTE, if the item of gold weighs under 1 gram then it does not have to be hallmarked by law, anything over and it is an criminal offence to sell it as gold.

As Palladium and Platinum is not as common I will go into this in further detail in a latter blog.

The Markers Mark.

So you can get a book, which will give you all the makers’ marks in the United Kingdom. For instance my mark is GWK, which is Giles’ Workshop. These have to be registered at one or all of the four Assay Offices.

There are a few more marks that can be added, however these are not as common as they used to be 

Below is and image of one of my bracelets and one of my spoons, can you tell me other than the GWK where there were hallmarked? What the fineness of the metal? What year it was made? And why would the GWK be different?



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1 comment

Hello Giles,
Really interesting bog which clarified my wooly knowledge!
So made by Giles Workshop using sterling silver, assayed in 2018 in Sheffield and also London? or is that a spare lion? The GKW is firstly in the round using Britannia silver and then in a square frame with the sterling silver.
Thanks for info. nk.


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