What is a jewellery hallmark?
Since it’s not possible to tell what rings are made of just by looking at them or feeling them, it’s a legal requirement to hallmark pieces of jewellery and other items that contain precious metals. The metal is analysed to determine its metal type and purity and is then marked with a series of symbols, known as its hallmark.
What do the marks mean?
The full traditional hallmark comprises of five marks:
1. Sponsor’s mark
The sponsor’s mark is the registered mark of the company that requires the item to be hallmarked. This mark is unique for everyone and is formed of the initials of the person or company. In our case, our sponsor’s mark is a T&H.
2. Traditional fineness mark
This identifies what metal the item is crafted from.
3. Millesimal fineness mark
This mark indicates what quality the metal is, also known as its fineness. The numerical format was introduced in 1999 and expresses the precious metal content of the item, in parts per thousand.
4. Assay Office mark
This mark tells you which Assay Office tested and hallmarked the item. The London Assay Office uses the image of a leopard’s head as its stamp, recognised throughout the industry as the renowned home of precious metal hallmarking.
5. Date letter mark
The date letter mark indicates the year in which the item has been hallmarked. The font, case or shape of the shield changes on the 1st January of every year so the alphabet can continue to be used beyond 26 years.
How is hallmarking done?
Precious metals are rarely used in their purest form and are typically alloyed with other metals for strength, colour and durability. The hallmarking process is completed in a few technical steps.
Firstly, a scratch of the metal is taken and it is analysed to determine its metal type and purity. It is then marked with a series of symbols that are applied to the inside of our precious metal bands, both platinum and gold.
Every Taylor & Hart item is hallmarked at The Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office in London with the full, traditional UK hallmark. This includes three compulsory punch marks and two additional marks to prove that the piece has been independently tested, guaranteeing that it conforms to all legal standards of metal purity.