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What are ‘hallmarks’ and what do they mean?

Hallmarks are the symbols, numbers and letters stamped onto a gold object such as a ring to prove its quality and provenance by an assay office. Typically on a gold ring you might see:

The Sponsor’s Mark – usually a series of initials to determine who it was that went the ring for assaying (usually the producer).

The Standard Mark – the number that determines the quality of the gold, essentially a purity rating out of 1,000.

375 = 9 carat gold

585 = 14 carat gold

750 = 18 carat gold

916 = 22 carat gold

999 = 24 carat or ‘pure’ gold

The Assay Office Mark – this is the mark of the office that ‘assayed’ the metal. The UK has four assay offices.

Anchor: Birmingham

Castle: Edinburgh

Leopard: London

Rose: Sheffield

The hallmarks of London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh

The hallmarks of London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh

Date Mark: Like a car’s number plate this is done by letters. The letter for 2018 is ‘T’.

Traditional metal mark: This denotes which metal it is.

Crown = gold

Orb = platinum

Greek Head = palladium

Britannia = Britannia silver

Lion = sterling silver

An example hallmark for 22+ carat gold assayed in Sheffield.

An example hallmark for 22+ carat gold assayed in Sheffield.