Monthly Archives: July 2015

Hallmarking isn’t pearls but it is jewellery

Dept of information which might come in useful in a trivia quiz. Did you know that a hallmark should be returned to the office which marked it to be obliterated before the item is changed or altered?

No? Well neither did I. But it is right there in the Hallmarking Act

1.Make an addition, alteration or repair to an article bearing approved hallmarks, except in accordance with the written consent of an assay office.

2.Remove, alter, transpose or deface any hallmark struck on an article, except in accordance with the written consent of an assay office.

News to me so I asked more details from the London Assay Office’s ( public face of total precious metal info, Steve Collins. How often does this happen? ‘Sadly not nearly as often as they should! Don’t get me started, for example on those silver rings and bangles that have been made out of old spoons and sugar tongs.

‘once a hallmark is on an item, you are not allowed to touch the hallmark or do anything to the item without the prior approval of the assay office. So if someone bought a spoon and filed off the hallmark they are committing an offence. Many people are quite flippant about the hallmark without realising the seriousness of what it is and what it stands for. This is an offence that used to be punishable by death remember!

‘So for example let’s say you wanted to size a gold ring. As you know the weight limit for hallmarking gold is 1g, so if you’re going to be adding more than 1g of gold to the ring, then technically it would need to be checked by an assay office. You can imagine a scenario with an 18ct wedding ring being sized up 10 sizes using 9ct gold. The hallmark on it indicates that the entire item is made of at least 18ct, but it’s clearly not and so the poor customer is not buying what he thinks he is!
I think in practice this again doesn’t happen as often as it should do..and from personal experience I’ve seen rings that have been completely re-shanked and have not been re hallmarked. The jeweller then gets round the law by not describing the ring as being made of gold, and listing the repair as “re-shank to diamond ring”.

Cancelled hallmark

here is an image of a crossed out hallmark, along with our reference number. The reference number links to our file about the article which lists the reasons why the action was taken (photo London Assay Office)

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