Hallmarking is a legal requirement in the UK. When Ever you buy a piece of jewellery in the United Kingdom made out of Gold, Platinum, Palladium or Silver they should be stamped with a hallmark. There are 4 legal assays office in the UK they are London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh. The hallmark is a sign confirming a metals purity, so you know what quality gold, platinum or silver you are buying.
Testing precious metals for purity is called “assaying” that’s why the place where hallmarking is done is called an Assay Office. The Assay Office was established in 1327 and was most probably the earliest form of consumer protection.
There are four precious metals that require hallmarking and they are gold, platinum, silver and palladium. Whether it’s white, yellow, or rose gold they will be stamped with either 9k, 14k, 18k, & 22k.
The stamp for 9k gold is 375 which means that there is 37.5% of gold and the rest other metals dependant on the colour gold used. 9k gold is the strongest purity and is mostly sold in the UK as this is referred to as the queen’s gold.
The stamp for 14k Gold is 585 which means 58.8% of gold and the rest other metals dependant on the colour gold used. 14k is mostly sold in the US and is the most popular choice of metal for engagement rings in the US as it makes the price more attractive and also hardwearing.
The stamp for 18k Gold is 750 which means 75% of gold and the rest other metals dependant on the colour gold used. 18k is an International gold sold worldwide and is the most popular metal used for diamond Jewellery and engagement rings. 18k Gold is the best alloy to set diamonds and other precious stones as it’s the purest gold and less likely to give allergy plus has a warm vibrant tone to it.
The stamp for 22k gold is 916 which means 91.6% of gold and the rest other metals dependant on the colour gold used. 22k gold is mainly used in Indian jewellery and is very soft so you should not set precious stones into the metal as it won’t take long before they will all start falling out.
The stamp for platinum is 950 which mean 95% of platinum and the rest other white metals. Platinum is a pure white metal and is used worldwide the weight is denser than gold as the purity is a lot higher and is very popularly used in engagement rings and wedding rings.
The UK assay offices are equipped with the latest technology in testing metal purity using x-ray and laser analysis. However, many objects are still stamped by hand, exactly as they were 700 years ago.
Only jewellery and engagement rings that carry an official registered British or international hallmark can be sold in the UK. A hallmark is made up of the Assay Office town mark, together with 2 to 4 letters, a letter confirming the year stamped and the metal purity. There are hundreds of registered hallmark elements. If in doubt, contact the International Association of Assay Offices for more information.
The hallmarking law excludes precious metal objects that weigh under a certain number of grams. Below are the weighs of jewellery that does not need to be hallmarked:
- Up to 1 gram for gold
- Up to 0.5 grams for platinum
- Up to 7.78 grams for silver
Hallmarks are very important and according to the Hallmarking Act, it’s an offence to claim that a piece of jewellery is made with gold, silver, platinum or palladium unless it’s hallmarked. It’s also an offence to remove, alter, deface or counterfeit a hallmark. This is why we at David Ashley recommend buying engagement rings and jewellery in the UK as we have strict guidelines to adhere to and you can be sure you are buying with confidence.