Jewellery can be made out of different metals and a combination of metals. Hallmarking provides information on the metals used and its purity. This is done for the protection of consumer and also to assure quality. Hallmarking provides with the information of who made it, what was it made from, where was it checked and in some cases even the year it was hallmarked in. By law, jewellery with precious metal is required to be hallmarked by The Assay Office. However, an exemption is if the metal weight of the jewellery is below a certain weight.
By law, all jewellery that has precious metal in it is required to be hallmarked by the Assay Office. However, there are certain weight thresholds that also decide whether or not your jewellery is required to be hallmarked. If the weight of jewellery falls below: 1 Gram (for gold and palladium), 7.78 Grams (for silver), and 0.5 Grams (for platinum), you can opt-out from hallmarking.
Jewellery which is made in gold, starts at 9Ct and is more than 1 gram, is compulsorily required to undergo hallmarking.
The cost of hallmarking depends on several factors. If there are one or two articles, they cost 14 per packet. If there are 3 or more articles, they cost 18 per packet + 1.10 (per article). The cost includes the traditional fineness symbol, sponsor’s mark, date letter, laser application of hallmark and the handling. The cost of hallmarking is usually borne by the jeweller/manufacturer.
The costs will differ on additional services added. Metal bars can also be hallmarked. The Goldsmith’s Company Assay Office releases an updated price list every year.
The fineness of a metal is a representation of the amount of alloy and pure metal in a piece of metal or jewellery. 925 is the representation of sterling silver or 92.5% silver. It means that the item has 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% alloy added. The alloy is added to reach a desired strength and durability. However, just because an item is only stamped with the numbers 925 does not mean it is hallmarked. For a piece to be hallmarked it should not only have the metal fineness but also the stamp of maker, an assay office mark and date/year it was hallmarked in. Please note that 925 is only used for silver. Gold jewellery’s fineness is never represented by the term 925.
Gold plated pieces are required to be hallmarked only if they use precious metal as their base metal and they fall under the required weight for an object to be hallmarked. Silver jewellery is often plated with gold. In this case, the jewellery must weigh more than 7.78 grams of silver. The Assay Office also remarks that “The gold plated layer must be of fineness of at least 375 parts per thousand and should not exceed 2 microns in thickness.”