The Very Highest Quality Information...


UK Hallmarks from 1999Chard 18 Carat Home PageClick here to return to Information Index

New Precious Metal Standards Introduced

This document includes the following sections:-

Q: What is a Hallmark?
Q: Why is it Important?
Q: What Precious Metals Does it Cover?
Q: What's New?
Q: What are the Standards?
Q: What is a Convention Mark?
Summary Table
What Else?


Q: What is a Hallmark?

A hallmark is a quality control mark placed on an article made of precious metal. Sometimes called a hall, assay or standard mark. It is usually applied after accurate independent testing by an assay office. In the United Kingdom, there are four Assay Offices which are legally empowered to test precious metal objects, and to apply a hallmark to them. These offices are in London, Sheffield, Birmingham, and Edinburgh.
Hallmarking is the world's first known instance of consumer protection law, in the UK it dates back to about 1300 AD. It is controlled by the Hallmark Act 1973, as modified by The Hallmarking (Hallmarking Act Amendment) Regulations 1998, and The Hallmarking (Hallmarking Act Amendment) Order 1998. The new regulations and standards became effective as from January 1st 1999.
A UK hallmark now contains at least three symbols, the sponsor's mark (often called a maker's mark), a number indicating the purity or fineness in parts per thousand, and an Assay Office mark.
There are additional optional marks, a date letter, a fineness symbol, and a common control mark.
Subject to certain exemptions, it is an offence to describe an hallmarkable article as being of gold silver or platinum unless it is hallmarked.

Q: Why is it Important?
Hallmarks are important because they guarantee to the consumer that the article has been independently tested to be of the stated minimum purity. They also inform and protect vendors from unintentionally mis-describing an article. The presence of a hallmark avoids the necessity of re-testing a piece whenever it is valued or offered for resale.

Q: What Precious Metals Does it Cover?

Hallmarks have traditionally covered gold and silver, but in 1976, platinum was included as a hallmarkable precious metal.

Q: What's New?

The quality mark is now to be shown millessimally, i.e. in parts per thousand. The old "9, 18" etc. are no longer used, except informally and optionally.
The date letter which used to be mandatory, is now optional.
The exemption date for antiquity is now 1920 instead of 1900.
Quality symbols, such as the lion, Britannia and orb are now optional.
The Common Control Mark is still optional.
The newly introduced standards for gold are 990 and 999 parts per 1000, for silver 800 and 999, and for platinum 850, 900 and 999 parts per 1000.

Q: What are the Standards?

For gold, the new standards are now 375, 585, 750, 990, 916, and 999 parts per 1000.
For silver, the new standards are now 800, 925, 958, and 999 parts per 1000.
For platinum, the new standards are now 850, 900, 950, and 999 parts per 1000

Q: What is a Convention Mark?

Under the Hallmarking Act, other European Economic Area Hallmarks and standards of fineness are now permitted. The International Hallmarking Convention agrees that participating countries grant equal and mutual recognition and acceptance to their hallmarked goods. Under the convention, no negative tolerances are permitted, and the assay is carried out by an independent laboratory. By "no negative tolerances", it means that 18 carat gold, for example, which equates to 75% or 750 parts per thousand, the minimum standard must be 750 parts, 749 would fail.

Summary Table

This table will show all the current standards at a glance:-

MetalNew StandardPrevious
Gold
375
9 carat
Gold
585
14 carat
Gold
750
18 carat
Gold
916
22 carat
Gold
990
 
Gold
999
 
Silver
800
 
Silver
925
Sterling
Silver
958
Britannia
Silver
999
 
Platinum
850
 
Platinum
900
 
Platinum
950
950
Platinum
999
 


What Else?

There is also a proposed European Directive on hallmarking.
This aims to harmonise hallmarking within the European Union. As it stands, it proposes to allow self certification under quality assurance schemes without independent third party testing. This is being disputed by a number of members as it would lead to a dilution of standards. There are also various other amendments mooted under the proposed directive.


...at the Lowest Possible Price

32 - 36 Harrowside, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY4 1RJ, England.
Telephone (44) - (0) 1253 - 343081; Fax 408058; E-mail: [email protected]
The URL for our main page is: http://www.18carat.co.uk/index.html
Web Design by Snoop