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What is a Hallmark?

Have you ever wondered what hallmarking jewellery actually represents? All jewellery over a certain weight has to go through the Hallmarking process. Hallmarking is actually one of the UKs oldest forms of consumer protection, dating back to 1300.

a sterling silver hallmark on the back of a handmade piece of jewellery. 5 symbols each representing a part of a hallmark

The 5 marks you see in the image each have a meaning: - AVF - that is my makers mark, every one of these is unique and is used to show who submitted the piece for Hallmarking. (If you didn’t already know, my full name is Aimee Victoria Foster. I’ve never been Aimee and I’m only Victoria if I’m in trouble!) - Traditional Finesse Symbol - this tells you what the metal is, in this case it’s sterling silver. There are different images for Britannia silver, gold, palladium and platinum. - Millesimal Finesse Mark - this shows you the quality of the metal and the shape can also be used to identify the metal. - Assay Office Mark - the Leopards head here shows the piece was hallmarked at the London Assay office. There are also Assay offices in Sheffield, Edinburgh and Birmingham. There used to be one in York a long time ago which would have been super handy! - Date Letter Mark - Each year is represented by a different letter, the font, case and shield shape change so each year is unique.

For special years, you can also opt to get an additional mark, these are commemorative marks - for 2022, we have the Platinum Jubilee mark.

It is a legal requirement for any silver piece over 7.78g and any gold piece over 1g so some lighter pieces may not have a hallmark, you can still hallmark these items but it is not necessary.

So, if you’ve ever noticed a row of symbols on your jewellery, you now know what they stand for!

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