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the Trade with Independence and Integrity

Anatomy of a Hallmark



Anatomy of a Ring

What is a Hallmark?

Until 1998, a Hallmark consisted of four COMPULSORY MARKS.  Since 1998 the date letter has become optional but the other three symbols remain compulsory. The symbols give the following information:

  • who made the article
  • what is its guaranteed standard of fineness
  • the Assay Office at which the article was tested and marked
  • the year in which the article was tested and marked

The Sponsor's Mark

Sponsors MarkThis is the unique mark of the company or person responsible for sending the article for hallmarking.

The sponsor may be the manufacturer, importer, wholesaler, retailer or an individual. To obtain a sponsor’s mark you must register with an assay office.


The Standard Mark

This shows the fineness of the metal – ie purity of the precious metal content in parts per 1000 in relation to the standard recognised in the UK. For example 750 parts per 1000 by weight is equivalent to the old 18 carat gold standard. The alloy must be at least 750 parts per 1000 to be marked as such. There is no negative tolerance.


gold standard marks


silver standard marks


Platinum Standard Marks


palladium standards


The Assay Office Mark

This symbol shows which Assay Office tested and marked the item. The Anchor is the symbol of Assay Office Birmingham .

assay office marks


Optional Marks

 Date Letters

Shows the year in which the article was hallmarked.

Optional Marks - Date Letters

Traditional Marks

These are traditional standard marks that can still be used today.

Traditional Marks

Commemorative Marks

Special hallmarks which celebrate major events.

commemorative marks


International Convention Marks

Since 1972 the UK has been a signatory to the international convention on hallmarks. This means that UK Assay Offices can apply the common control mark which will then be recognised by all member countries in the convention. Conversely, convention hallmarks that have been applied in other member countries are recognised in the UK.

Some of The Assay Office marks of member countries of the Convention are illustrated below. The shield design around the Assay Office mark may vary according to whether the article is gold, silver or platinum. The key mark to look for is the Common Control Mark. The three other marks must also be present.

Sponsor's or Makers Mark

Common Control Marks

Common Control Marks 

The Member Countries of the Convention are:
Austria The Netherlands
Cyprus Norway
Czech Republic Poland
Denmark Portugal
Finland Slovak Republic
Hungary Slovenia
Ireland Sweden
Israel Switzerland
Latvia United Kingdom

Examples of Assay Office Marks

Assay Office Examples 

United Kingdom

United Kingdom Marks

*The hallmark guarantees that the purity of the metal is at least that indicated by the fineness number.


Duty Marks

duty marks

The Sovereign’s Head indicated that Duty had been paid on an item.  It was struck from 2ndDecember 1784 to 30th April 1890.  During this period a variable tax was levied on all silver and gold assayed in Great Britain.  In Dublin the Sovereign’s Head Duty Mark was used from 1807 and in Glasgow from 1819.  It should be noted that the head did not always change with the Monarch!

Draw Back MarkDraw Back Mark

The duty on items that were exported was refunded.  The figure of Britannia was used from December 1784 to July 1785 to indicate repayment.

Import Marks to 1998

F markFrom 1842 it was illegal to sell imported gold or silver in the UK unless it was assayed (tested) at a British office.  In 1867 the Foreign Mark was added.

From 1904 the carat value of gold was also shown and for silver the decimal value of the standard was used.  The Assay Office marks for gold would be in a Square shield with chamfered corners and in a blunt oval for silver.

Import Marks from 1999

 Following a ruling of the European Court of Justice the UK is required to accept national hallmarks of member states who provide an equivalent guarantee.  In 1999 changes were made to the Hallmarking Act 1973 and subsequently the import mark was removed.

Assay Office Marks on Imported Plate

Assay Marks on Imported Plate




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