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What is a Hallmark?
We often get asked ‘What is a Hallmark?’
define; A hallmark is a stamp marked that can be found on jewellery items to indicate the purity of gold. The higher the fineness, the more rare and valuable it will be as purer gold would have fewer impurities in it than an alloy. Hallmarks are usually stamped or engraved into a piece of metal at its base where they cannot be rubbed off easily and one example would be 750 (meaning it contains 18 carat yellow gold). This marking means that the metal has been mixed with another metal. If you buy something made of hallmarked precious metals, you know the percentage of gold in your purchase.
Gold in its natural form slightly reddish yellow in colour. In its pure form it very soft therefore it has to be combined with other harder alloy metals such as zinc, copper, or silver to make it more durable for jewellery and create different colour tones.
This blog post will walk you through what a hallmark is and how you can know what your pieces are made from when buying online or in-person without having to take them apart yourself!
Why Is gold Jewellery Hallmarked?
Jewellery made from precious metal like solid gold, silver, palladium, or platinum is subject to be hallmarked in the UK. This provides the authenticity of the precious metal the jewellery is made from. Necklaces, rings, chain, rings, pendants and earrings, made from precious metals (gold or silver) have a metal stamp that indicates the amount of gold in which they are created. For example,if there is 750 hallmark gold stamped onto an item, it means that the piece of jewellery contains 18 karat gold and has 75% pure gold.
Since medieval times, this practice has been around when craftsmen were required to stamp work in gold so its origin could easily be traced back should there ever be any issues over ownership or authenticity of these precious metal-made goods. The very first use of hallmarks is believed.
The only things that are exempt from the hallmarking law are items that weigh less than the legal weight:
- 0.5 grams for Platinum
- 1 gram for Gold
- 1 gram for Palladium
- 7.78 grams for Sterling Silver
Gold jewellery Hallmark Symbol Meaning
The four main hallmark gold jewellery symbols you’ll find when looking at hallmarked in the UK is: ‘916’, ‘750’, ‘583’ and ‘375’. These numbers represent how much gold metal content each symbol stands for; they correspond with percentages of purity levels- so you know how much of the jewellery is made from precious metal.
- ‘916’ stands for 91.6% pure gold – 22ct Gold Jewellery
- ‘750’ stands for 75% pure gold – 18ct Gold Jewellery
- ‘583’ stands for 58.3% pure gold – 14ct Gold Jewellery
- ‘375’ stands for 37.5% pure gold – 9ct Gold Jewellery
Gold hallmark stamp vary in a classification all over the world but for the United Kingdom, it is common to four types of gold carat marks which is stated above.
Gold vermeil jewellery does not contain 100% pure gold. A layer of gold isn’t thick enough to serve as a gold hallmark, so this is stamped 925 on it to identify that the jewellery is sterling silver and not solid gold.
Sterling silver will have the following hallmark stamp:
‘925’ stands for 92.5% pure silver – Sterling Silver Jewellery
Learn more about What is the difference between Rose Gold and Pink Gold.
What is gold hallmark identification?
Since 1998, the letter date has become optional. However, gold hallmark identification includes these three compulsory symbols:
The Sponsor’s Mark – The sponsor’s mark indicates that the hallmarks are registered to a specific business, which is typically an individual or company. In the United Kingdom, this mark consists of any two letters within a shape chosen by the business (not the same ones).
The Standard Mark – The standard mark tells you what weight of gold was tested and if it passed the tests required by law.
Indicates the precious metal content of the item, and that it is of at least the fineness indicated. The fineness is indicated by a millesimal number (parts per thousand) and the metal type is indicated by the shape of the surround.
Assay Office Mark or Gold Makers Mark – Marks usually found on jewellery to indicate the specific Assay Office at which the metal was tested and marked. In the UK there are four Assay Offices: London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Sheffield.
There are many other marks in a Hallmark stamp. But some are optional, and some are old and not used anymore.
Our Commitment to Hallmarking - Gold Makers Mark
Auric Jewellery has Birmingham Gold Makers marks as it is registered with the Birmingham Assay Office, giving you the assurance that our gold jewelry meets all regulations and is traceable. All stock goes through an internal confirmation process to ensure that it meets the UK’s hallmarking regulations before it is dispatched to our customers.
We are an Assay Assured Jewellery Retailer. Assay Assured status is only given to retailers who have been independently audited and Input verified by Assay Assured which is run and overseen by the Edinburgh Assay Office, and ensures that all precious metal jewellery (except items exempt by weight) are independently tested and hallmarked.
Auric Jewellery Hallmark Stamp
How is gold carat determined for Hallmarking?
Gold’s finesse is measured in Carats (ct), sometimes written as Karat (K). This should not be confused with Carats which is used to specify the weight of a diamond.
Gold in its purest form is referred to as 24 carats, 24ct, 24K or pure gold.
The gold content in carat is the weight of pure gold or percentage of pure gold in a total piece. For example, 18ct (sometimes 750) has 18/24 parts or 75% pure gold and 25% alloy.
The most common gold carats used in gold jewellery are 9ct (375), 14ct (585), 18ct(750) and 22ct (916).
Auric Jewellery is committed to transparency. We provide clear and honest information about the fineness of our jewellery by specifying it in descriptions for each piece, under the Specifications so that you can be sure your jewellery has been independently verified to meet industry standards.
What is the difference between gold vermeil and solid gold?
Gold Vermeil should not be confused with solid gold jewellery such as (750) 18ct Solid Gold jewellery. Gold vermeil is a term used for sterling silver jewellery that has been plated with 18ct gold (0.0025mm).
The thickness of the gold layer on Gold Vermeil needs to be at least 2.5 microns(0.0025mm). Some people mistakenly think they are buying real 18ct Gold when in fact they have purchased Sterling Silver coated in a thin layer of 0.0025mm worth of gold plate which is valueless when you go to resell this piece of jewellery. It is important to understand that gold vermeil is not gold, it’s simply sterling silver with a layer of gold.
18ct solid gold jewellery, also called 18k in yellow, white or rose gold is made with 75% pure gold and 25% other alloys including copper or silver.
In terms of Hallmarking, a gold vermeil jewellery piece will be hallmarked as Sterling Silver (925), whereas real gold jewellery is hallmarked according to its fineness, for example, 9ct, 14ct, or 18ct.
Please note that jewellery marketed as 18ct gold may actually be plated or vermeil and not 18ct Real Gold.
Auric Jewellery only sells 18ct Solid Gold Jewellery. Read more about ‘What is 18ct gold?’ in our blog post.
The Differences Between Yellow Gold and Rose Gold
Gold or yellow gold has a somewhat yellowish hue in its natural state, but when it’s combined with other alloy metals like zinc and copper it becomes more durable–and can be made to take on many different hues.
Rose gold on the other hand is a mixture of pure yellow gold and copper. Copper is added to the alloy to create a sparkly light pinkish colour.
What Is The Difference Between Yellow Gold And White Gold?
Yellow gold in its natural form slightly reddish yellow in colour. In its pure form it very soft therefore it has to be combined with other harder alloy metals such as zinc, copper or silver to make it more durable for jewellery and create different colour tones.
18ct White Gold Jewellery is made from yellow gold however to create white gold it gets metal such as manganese or palladium to create a whiter look. The bright and sparkly finish for white gold jewellery is polished with a metal called rhodium.
Is 18ct Rose Gold real solid Gold?
18ct Rose gold jewellery is real solid gold as long as one of the following carat weights are bought, 9ct, 14ct or 18ct. However it’s very uncommon for it to be acquired in 22ct gold.
Always check for Hallmarking information if you have any doubt, as the rose gold colour is widely used ranging from mobile phone covers to handbags and we understand that it can sometimes be confusing.
Is Rose Gold jewellery Worth Less Than Yellow Gold jewellery?
No. If one of the following carat weights are bought, 9ct, 14ct or 18ct value of the gold will remain the same regardless of it colour. For example, if you buy a yellow gold item and the carat is 18ct (750) then it will be made up of 75% pure yellow gold with 25% other metals. The same applies to white or rose gold jewellery which is both comprised of an alloy containing at least 18 carats.
Can Rose Gold jewellery tarnish Or fade?
Real 18ct Rose gold jewellery has a deeper pink colour due to a higher percentage of copper in the alloy with pure gold. It is worth remembering that Rose Gold is not a coating but an alloy metal created with a pinkish colour tone. Although this is not guaranteed for plated or vermeil jewellery.
Learn how to look after your fine jewellery from Jewellery Care Guide.
what is gold-plated jewellery?
Gold-plated jewellery is often used to refer to a layer of gold plating applied over the surface of another metal. Normally this metal is brass or copper.
The gold plating is often very thin, and can peel off over time. The brass or copper underneath the gold coating will then show through to create a contrasting effect.
Gold-plated jewellery tends to be cheaper than solid gold jewellery because it uses less expensive materials in its construction. It’s also not as durable as pure metals like gold due to the vulnerability of the underlying material being exposed after repeated wearings due to the thin layer that comprises most plating jobs on any given piece.