All About Hallmarking - What is a Hallmark and Why is it Important?
July 26, 20193 min read
Have you ever wondered what those small engravings are on the inside of your Azendi bangle? Or perhaps you have seen some small stamps on the clasp of your necklace? This is the 'hallmark', a legal requirement for all jewellery sold in the UK that is made from a precious metal.
Your Guarantee of Quality
An official hallmark is a stamp of quality and provenance. The hallmark is essentially a form of consumer protection, so that you can trust that an item sold as gold or silver, really is made from that precious metal. The Hallmarking Act of 1973 dictates that independent Assay Offices must test items made from precious metals, and only if passed, apply relevant hallmarks. There are four Assay Offices in the UK, based in London, Sheffield, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
How is Jewellery Hallmarked?
Once a jewellery collection has been created, it must be sent for testing. All Azendi jewellery is sent to the Edinburgh Assay Office. A tiny sample of every single piece of jewellery is tested using x-ray technology and laser analysis. Modern techniques mean that you cannot tell where sampling has taken place on your jewellery. During the assaying process, the Assay Office will test the metal to find out how fine it is. Is it sterling silver, is it 9ct gold? After testing, if the jewellery meets the legal standard of purity requirements, each piece is stamped with a hallmark. Laser marking is now commonly used to apply a hallmark, although many objects are still stamped by hand.
What Does the Hallmark Mean?
Hallmarks answer three important questions; who, what and where? A hallmark stamp consists of at least three compulsory marks which tell you the answers to these questions. These are the Sponsor’s Mark, the Fineness Mark and the Office Mark. The Sponsor’s Mark shows who has sent the jewellery for hallmarking and consists of initials within a shape. In the case of Azendi, our sponsor’s mark are the initials ‘A' and 'Z’ within squares. Each Sponsor's mark is unique and registered at the Assay Offices.
The Fineness Mark shows the precious metal and the level of purity. All sterling silver jewellery would have a ‘925’ hallmark applied. 9ct gold jewellery will have a ‘375’ mark applied.
The Office Mark shows where the jewellery was tested; the symbol for London is a leopard head, for Birmingham an anchor, for Sheffield a rose, and for Edinburgh, a castle. All Azendi jewellery is hallmarked at Edinburgh Assay Office so bears the castle mark next to our Sponsor's Mark and the Fineness Mark.
Additional marks may be applied to jewellery, such as a date stamp, but any item sent for testing will show at least the main three stamps.
There are a couple of exemptions to the hallmarking rules; any sterling silver items that weigh less than 7.78 grams do not need to be hallmarked, and any gold items that weight less than 1 gram do not need to be hallmarked.
Finding the Hallmarks on your own Jewellery
If you're unsure of what your jewellery is made of you can use a magnifying glass to look on your items and find out. On rings and bangles you will usually find the hallmark on the inside curve. On necklaces, bracelets and chains the hallmark is usually near the clasp - either on the clasp or on the main loop joining the clasp to the chain. On earrings, the hallmark would normally be on the earring post.
If you have any queries about hallmarking, or the hallmarks on your Azendi jewellery, our in-store teams or our Customer Service team are happy to help with any advice. You can contact our customer service team here: Contact Us