Hallmarking

Below is a very brief overview of hallmarking. For more information please visit the website of the Assay Office of London. The system of hallmarking is one of the oldest forms of consumer protection in the world. In the UK it dates from the 13th century when the first officially recognised system for marking precious metals was established.

  1. BP is our company Sponsor's Mark which stands for Bright Phase Ltd. This shows who made the tag.
  2. Easier to see on the actual dog tag, this is a leopard's head which indicates the testing and marking of the silver was conducted by the London Assay Office: the leopard is their symbol. Each assay office has a different one.
  3. This is the date letter which applies to the London Assay Office. 'M' indicates the year 2011. 'N' indicates 2012 and so on.
  4. Hard to see this one but it says '925' which indicates that it's been tested (assayed) and found to contain 92.5% pure silver which means it meets the purity requirement of sterling silver.
  5. This is the symbol of a lion which is an older traditional mark to indicate that it's been tested and verified as 'British-grade' silver, i.e. 925 sterling

Click here to see our hallmarking notice issued by the British Hallmarking Council.

What's hallmarking for?

The purpose is to prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, that when someone sells a piece of what they claim is precious metal, it is that metal and to the level of purity / fineness being advertised. Under the Hallmarking Act 1973, hallmarks must be applied to any item made of gold, palladium, silver or platinum that's being traded as such. There are a number of different purities of silver recognised in the UK such as 925 Sterling and 958 Britannia. Gold is generally recognised as being either 9 carat (37.5% pure) or 18 carat (75.0% pure). Other levels of purity exist. One of the hallmarks that's applied describes the purity of the metal.
 
The marks need to be applied to any item (chain, bracelet, goblet, piece of jewellery, ornament, precious object etc) which the seller claims has at least a minimum level of purity of that metal. For example, any item sold as silver which weighs more than 7.78 g must be hallmarked. Pure silver bullion is, however, excluded from this law. Sellers who advertise a product as silver and who don't obtain a hallmark risk serious penalties: it's like forging banknotes. The law allows for confiscation of all items which are being advertised as silver which aren't. The law allows a fine of up to £5,0000 for each item that is being advertised as silver which doesn't bear a hallmark. The law further allows a prison sentence of up to 2 years. Soit's a serious business.

What does the hallmarking process involve?

There are four Assay Offices in the UK which test precious metals and which are authorised to apply hallmarks. The process involves submission of all items of precious metal above certain weights. The assay office will test each item using a range of methods, depending on the item to be tested. These vary from historic but proven acid tests to more advanced techniques such as non-destructive X-ray fluorescence or mass spectrometry. If the metal meets the purity level, and there's no tolerance for being less than the required purity level, the metal is marked either with a physical stamp or a laser. For sterling silver, the pure silver content must be at least 92.5%.

What are the marks that are applied for Sterling Silver?

The jewellery made by 10STERLING has four hallmarks. The sponsors mark (the maker or person presenting it for testing & marking); the date letter which signifies the year in which the item was tested and marked; the purity mark ('925' for sterling silver); the assay office mark of one of the 4 assay offices authorised to assay and mark precious metal (London, Birmingham, Sheffield or Edinburgh).

Is it important to have a hallmark on a piece of jewellery?

If it's not hallmarked then you can't tell if it's genuine - even the seller can't tell for sure. That means your cherished gift may not be what you think it is. Practically speaking, your item may not be worth what you paid.