It is a legal requirement to hallmark all articles consisting of gold, silver, platinum or palladium (subject to certain exemptions) if they are to be described and marketed as such.
This is because gold, silver, platinum and palladium are rarely used in their purest form - they are normally alloyed with lesser metals in order to achieve a desired strength, durability, colour etc. It is not possible to detect by sight or by touch the gold, silver, platinum or palladium content of an item.
The main offence under the UK Hallmarking Act 1973 is based on description. It is an offence for any person in the course of trade or business to:
If your design is described as being wholly or partly made of gold, silver, platinum or palladium and is not covered under 'exempt articles' then you will need to get it hallmarked.
What are exempt articles? These are the kind of allowances that mean something doesn't have to be hallmarked.
Articles below a certain weight.
The exemption weight is based on the precious metal content only, which means it excludes, for example, the weight of diamonds, gemstones etc.
In the case of articles consisting of precious metal and a base metal then the exemption weight is based on the total metal weight. Anything over the following metal weights would need to be hallmarked:
Any pre-1950 item.
Any items that were made before 1950 may now be described and sold as precious metal without a hallmark.
However the seller must be able to prove that it is of minimum fineness and was manufactured before 1950.
For more information and a full lust of exemption take a look at this hallmarking guidance document on the government website.
If your design uses precious metal and is likely to be over the exempt weights you will need to send it off for evaluation by the assay office. Here they test the precious metal content of your work then give it the appropriate assay purity mark.
They will then also give it your ‘marker/sponsor’s mark’, which is unique to you. Any makers mark can be registered with an essay office, but the design must be approved by the assay office first. You can see the guidelines that the assay office use to pass makers marks on the hallmarking guidance document from the government.
The final mark the Assay Office will make is the one which indicates the particular Assay Office at which the article was tested and marked.
There are now 4 Assay Offices in the UK - London, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Sheffield.
Click the assay office marks below to go to the their website:
You can sell any jewellery however, if your design weighs more than the exemption weight, for example if you have a sterling silver item weighing more than 7.78g you cannot market it as being made from a precious metal for example "sterling silver gemstone ring' - unless it has been hallmarked. Instead you have to refer to it as ‘precious white metal’.
It is however advised to get anything over the weight hallmarked as it acts as a reassurance to the customer that what they are buying is genuine.
No, the weight exemption applies to the precious metal content of your work.
If you have a silver ring for example that weighs under 7.78g but when you set a stone it goes over that weight it doesn’t need to be hallmarked, the exemption weight is 7.78g of silver, not including stones.
If you’re making a charm bracelet & the charms are detachable, then they are treated as separate and the hallmarking rules would then apply to each individual charm. If the charms are not readily detachable then this the design would be classed as one item.
For items with two or more metals then it is the weight of the total item, for example for a ring with silver and copper it would be the total weight of the item. Likewise for a charm bracelet with fixed copper charms the weight would apply to the piece as a whole.
You can stamp your own work with a 925 stamp to say that it is made from sterling silver. However this does not act as a hallmark and hallmarking rules stated above still apply.
You can only use a 925 stamp if your design uses genuine sterling silver. You may be asked at some point to provide proof of this (for example receipts for materials purchased) by trading standards.
Information courtesy of www.gov.uk .
All information on this page was correct at the time of writing - 03/09/16.
If you have any further questions, feel free to call our friendly team who will be more than happy to give you some advice through Facebook, Twitter, Email or simply calling us on 01872 573888 9am-4pm UTC.
Alternatively, for more information and how to's on all areas of jewellery making visit our other Gemstone Setting Advice pages.