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Jewellery Hallmark Guide
What is a Hallmark?
A Hallmark is an official stamp marked on all precious metals jewellery to indicate its quality, origin and fineness. Hallmarks can be obtained independently from one of the four Assay Offices’ in the UK. All Auric Jewellery is independently assayed by the Birmingham Assay Office.
WHY IS JEWELLERY HALLMARKED?
Precious metals like gold, silver, platinum and palladium are rarely used in their purest form for jewellery. They are simply too soft. Instead, they are alloyed with other metals like copper, in order to achieve the desired strength, durability and colour that is needed for jewellery design.
This practice makes it impossible to tell the content of the precious metal in a jewellery piece just by looking or touching it. It is therefore a legal requirement to Hallmark all jewellery pieces consisting of gold, silver, palladium or platinum (subject to certain exemptions), in order to sell them with such a description.
All Auric Jewellery items are independently assayed and stamped. When purchasing from Auric Jewellery, you can be confident that your purchases are of the finest quality.
WHAT DOES A HALLMARK LOOK LIKE?
A Hallmark is made up of three compulsory symbols:
The Sponsor’s or Maker’s Mark
This indicates the maker or sponsor of the article. In the UK this mark consists of at least two letters within a surround. No two marks are the same.
Metal and fineness (purity) Mark
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
Indicates the particular Assay Office at which the article was tested and marked. There are now four Assay Offices in the UK, located in Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield. All other marks included in a Hallmark stamp are either optional or obsolescent.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HALLMARKING?
OUR COMMITMENT TO HALLMARKING
When it comes to manufacturing jewellery and silverware, precious metals (silver, palladium, gold and platinum) are rarely used in their purest form. Instead they are usually alloyed with lesser metals to achieve a desired strength, durability, and colour.
It is not possible to detect the precious metal content of an item by sight or by touch. It is, therefore, a legal requirement to have items consisting of silver, palladium, gold or platinum independently tested and then hallmarked before they can be described as such. Items must bear a hallmark at point of sale, subject to the following weight exemptions:
Silver: mandatory for items above 7.78 grams; gold: mandatory for items above 1 gram; palladium: mandatory for items above 1 gram; platinum: mandatory for items above 0.5 grams.
Auric Jewellery is registered with the Birmingham Assay Office ensuring our precious metal jewellery is compliant with the UK’s hallmarking regulations. All stock is subject to an internal confirmation process to ensure 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 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. Learn more about what a hallmark looks like here.
WHAT ARE DIFFERENT CARATS OF GOLD?
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 carats in gold or gold jewellery tells you how many 24ths of the total piece is pure gold, for example, 18ct is 18/24 parts or 75% pure gold, sometime also referred to as 750. The remaining percentage is an alloy added to enhance the durability and hardness of naturally soft gold.
The most common carats used in gold jewellery are 9ct (375), 14ct (585) and 18ct(750).
At Auric Jewellery we are always transparent about the fineness of our jewellery, this is specified in description and under Specifications section for each piece. All of our jewellery is independently Hallmarked and stamped, certifying its fineness.
WHAT IS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOLD VERMEIL AND GOLD?
Gold or real gold on the other side does not have plating or a different base metal.
Vermeil usually looks like gold to the naked eye however remember the base metal is Sterling Silver. The Gold Vermeil jewellery provides an inexpensive alternative to those who can’t afford pure gold jewellery.
It is important to understand that gold vermeil is not gold, it’s simply sterling silver with a layer of gold.
In terms of Hallmarking, a gold vermeil jewellery piece will be hallmarked as Sterling Silver (925) however a gold or real gold jewellery item will be hallmarked according to its fineness, for example, 9ct, 14ct, or 18ct.
At Auric Jewellery we currently do not sell gold vermeil jewellery, when buying from us you can sure that you are paying for real gold and buying real gold jewellery piece.
Learn more about ‘What is 18ct gold‘ here >>>
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YELLOW GOLD AND ROSE GOLD?
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. Rose gold on the other hand is a mixture of pure yellow gold and copper. More copper is added to the alloy to create the sparkly light pinkish colour. As copper is very sturdy metal, the resulting alloy is tougher than yellow or white gold. As with all gold jewellery, the higher the carat amount, the higher the actual gold content. Both Yellow and Rose gold jewellery can be created in 9ct, 14ct or 18ct.
WHAT IS GOLD PLATING?
In gold plating any metal (usually steel or brass) can be used as the base to create the item.
The shiny gold layer on top can be of any varying purity and thickness. These types of jewellery items are usually cheaper than gold vermeil as well as they do not use Sterling Silver as their base material.
Overtime these articles tend to tarnish as the coating tends to wear off over time only leaving the base metal on the jewellery.
We do not sell gold plated jewellery, we only sell independently assayed and hallmarked real gold jewellery.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YELLOW GOLD AND WHITE GOLD?
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. As a comparison White Gold is an alloy of pure yellow gold and at least one white metal (usually manganese or palladium). These alloys when mixed in a proportion gives gold a lighter colour. The bright and sparkly finish for white gold jewellery items come from a bright silver coloured metal called rhodium. Over the years’ white gold has become a synonym to gold and it is the metal of choice for various special occasion jewellery. As with all gold jewellery, the higher the carat amount, the higher the actual gold content. Both Yellow and White gold jewellery can be created in 9ct, 14ct or 18ct.
IS ROSE GOLD A REAL GOLD?
Yes, in terms of real gold jewellery. Rose gold is an alloy of yellow gold and copper. More copper is added to the alloy to create the sparkly light pinkish colour. A strong red colouring indicates a higher copper content. The reverse is also true for this shade, the higher the carat of gold, the fainter or softer the shade of pink will be in rose 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.
At Auric Jewellery we sell a wide range of real 18ct Rose Gold Jewellery.
IS ROSE GOLD WORTH LESS THAN YELLOW GOLD?
No. When gold jewellery is created the metal is usually used as an alloy of pure gold and an another metal to add durability. Typically the metals include copper, silver or zinc. When creating rose gold, the main alloy used is copper, which gives it distinctive pink colour. This does not make rose gold more or less expensive than yellow gold as it still contains same parts of pure gold as 9ct, 14ct or 18ct yellow gold.
CAN ROSE GOLD TARNISH OR FADE?
No. Rose gold has a deeper pink colour due to a higher percentage of copper in the alloy with pure gold and it still contains same parts of pure gold as 9ct, 14ct or 18ct yellow gold. It is worth remembering that Rose Gold is not a coating but an alloy metal created with a pinkish colour tone.
Learn how to look after your fine jewellery from our ‘Jewellery Care Guide‘.