Thursday, March 3, 2011

How to identify gold hallmarks

To identify gold hallmarks you will need to have a good look at the hallmarks on your piece of gold. You should see between 2 – 5 marks. These will relate to the golds standard, the maker, the date, the percentage of gold purity and where the object was tested or valued. This is known as the Assay Mark.

Hallmarks are small markings stamped on gold, silver and platinum articles. A British Hallmark means that the article has been independently tested and guarantees that it conforms to all legal standards of purity (fineness). These tests are carried out only by an Assay Office, of which there are four in the UK – London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh.

Until 1798 gold hallmarks were the same as silver hallmarks. Up to 1854 only 18 carat and 22 carat gold were recognized. The hallmarks were shown by a crown followed by either .916 for 22 carat gold or .750 for 18 carat gold.

Dates after 1854 3 more were allowed to be marked and they were 9 carat gold, 12 carat gold and 15 carat gold.

These carats were indicated by
.375 for 9 carat gold,
.5 for 12 carat gold and
.625 for 15 carat gold.

The crown mark was not used with these as it was only used for 18 carat gold and 22 carat gold.

After 1931 12 carat gold and 15 carat gold was no longer used and was replaced by 14 carat gold and indicated by the number .585.

A full set of gold hallmarks can consist of the crown which denotes the gold standard, the assay mark which tells you:
Where the item was assayed,
The Gold Standard
The makers mark,
The date letter,
The percentage of gold content marked as a decimal.

Despite the hallmarking act, Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian gold jewellery is not always hallmarked as the hallmarking act only covered large items so hallmarking on jewellery was not required.

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