Gold Hallmarks: How to Know What Your Jewellery Really Is
Posted on: 8th March 2016 By Alisson

Gold hallmarks might be a bit confusing – after all, there are a number of different hallmarks that might appear on your gold jewellery, and each of them can be unique. Before selling or buying gold, knowing what these hallmarks mean is absolutely essential. We have created the following guide to help you recognise the various gold hallmarks found on gold jewellery pieces from all around the world.

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The History of Hallmarks

Up until the year 1998, gold Hallmarks were quite extensive, consisting of four different required marks. After 1998, one of the marks was made optional, leaving three required marks. The gold hallmarks allow for a great deal of specificity, which can be highly useful when insuring or selling the jewellery. The hallmark symbols reveal who created the jewellery piece, the guaranteed level of fineness, and the identity of the Assay office where the piece was evaluated and engraved. Many pieces today also still display the optional date, expressed as the year in which the jewellery piece was created.

The Creator of the Piece

The creator of the jewellery piece will have their own unique mark, known as a sponsor mark or a creator mark. This mark most often appears as a short series of letters, for example “ABC.” The letters may represent the initials of the creator. The sponsor mark may be the initials of an individual person, a large company, or a retailer who commissioned the jewellery piece.

The Fineness of the Gold

The quality of the gold is typically the next thing expressed on the hallmarks when moving left to right across a jewellery piece. It may be expressed in karats, or in a three digit number. The purity of the gold is often measured in gold parts per 1000. The current standard requires a minimum of 750 parts of gold per 1000 to be marked as 18 karat gold, for example. The conversion table is as follows:

– 375 is equal to 9 karat gold

– 585 is equal to 14 karat gold

– 750 is equal to 18 karat gold

– 916 is equal to 22 karat gold

The Assay Office 

Each Assay Office in the UK has its own distinct symbol. The symbols are as follows:

– Birmingham: A sideways anchor

– Edinburgh: A three tiered castle

– London: A panther’s face

– Sheffield: A large open faced flower

Outside of the UK, other countries each have their own unique Assay office mark. Countries like Portugal and Slovenia actually have five or more marks each.

The Optional Year Marks

The year that the piece was created may be expressed in a number or letter on the jewellery piece, although this is optional. The marking may be as simple as a “2016” or a “16.” It may also be indicated in a letter. Recent year markings are:

– “M” for the year 2011

– “N” for the year 2012

– “O” for the year 2013

– “P” for the year 2014

– “Q” for the year 2015

– “R” for the year 2016

Other Possible Optional Marks

While other marks may not be required, they sometimes appear in special circumstances. It may be common to see a crown, the indicator for gold, in pieces made in the UK. For pieces that were made to celebrate special events, there may be certain hallmarks. There are unique hallmarks for:

– The Silver Jubilee in 1935

– The Coronation in 1953

– The Silver Jubilee in 1977

– The Millennium in 1999 and 2000

– The Golden Jubilee in 2002

– The Diamond Jubilee in 2012

Selling jewellery may seem intimidating at first, so it is important to keep in mind that all the tools needed to know your jewellery are in your hands. Simply familiarize yourself with the hallmarks prior to taking the piece into a gold buyer to make sure that you feel comfortable with the money that you’re offered!