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Precious Metals

+Platinum+Gold+Palladium+Hallmark Guide

Hallmark Guide

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

Sponsor Mark

Fineness Mark

Assay Office Mark

Also referred to as the makers mark, the first stamp in the photo indicates who submitted the item for hallmarking. Each sponsor (maker) has their own unique stamp.

The third stamp in our example photo is the fineness mark. This tells you the precious metal content, expressed in parts per thousand. There are four recognised standards of platinum:

850 (85% pure) | 900 (90% pure)

950 (95% pure) | 999 (99.9% pure)

When identifying an item as being platinum, it’s important to check the shape and contents of the fineness mark. 

The assay office mark tells you which assay office tested and hallmarked your item. There are now four assay offices in the UK:





Zaff Jewellery hallmarkFineness marksAssay offices

Above finess marks belong to Platinum. 

Other fineness marks are as follows

Hallmark Chart

Optional Hallmarks


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 Letter

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.

Hallmark Sample

PlatinumGoldPalladiumHallmark Guide


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