In the UK hallmarking has a long history, dating back nearly 700 years, and representing the earliest form of consumer protection. The consumer benefits in many ways.
Hallmarks are small markings stamped on gold, silver and platinum articles. A halmark means that the article has been independantly tested and guarentees that it conforms to legal standards of purity(fineness). These tests are caried out only by an Assay Office, of which there are four in the UK.
Hallmarking was introduced in the UK in 1975 as a result of legislation brought about by the Hallmarking Act of 1973. Prior to this date, items containing platinum would often carry no markings or simply ‘Plat’ or ‘Platinum’ and would be of varying purity. The Hallmark Act 1973 changed on 1 January 1999. By that UK law came into the line with European law.
It is illegal for any trader to sell or describe a precious metal article as gold, silver or platinum unless it is hallmarked. Gold articles weighing less than 1 gram, silver articles weighing less than 7.78 grams and platinum articles weighing less than half a gram are exemp from hallmarking.
A gold or platinum hallmark will consist of 3 compulsory and 3 optional stamps.
The three compulsory platinum marks
Above finess marks belong to Platinum.
Other fineness marks are as follows
The following 3 marks are all optional. Under hallmarking legislation, there is no compulsory requirement to show these additional marks, however they are often shown.
Traditional Fineness Symbol
If your platinum item has a purity of 950 or 999, it may display the traditional orb mark. In our example photograph, you can see the third stamp is the traditional fineness symbol.
Date letters are optional and therefore not always seen The date letter tells us the year the item was hallmarked. As date letters were standardised across all assay offices from 1975, it’s quite easy to read.
(m,2011-n,2012-o,2013 and so on (all in small letters))
International Convention Mark
An International Convention Mark is sometimes shown within the hallmark. It is a mark recognised by all member countries of the International Hallmarking Convention.
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