Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The difference between English & Foreign gold hallmarks

all that glistens is not gold
As Shakespeare said, “all that glisters (glitters) is not gold.”

And although a jewellery piece or object might look the real deal and press all the right emotional buttons, it can be hard to value properly without some knowledge of hallmarks.

When the item has been manufactured abroad, the job is even harder.

Even if you are familiar with English gold hallmarks, unknown symbols that may be foreign gold hallmarks or something else entirely can make a snap decision in a saleroom almost impossible.

The first thing to remember about gold is that it is a valuable material so wherever the item has been made, it will have marks designed to guarantee that the article is genuine and has undergone purity testing.

The problem is that if the marks are unfamiliar, the gold may not be as good as you think it is, and might not even be gold at all.

The USA and Germany for example do not have a national hallmarking system that is overseen by an independent body as in the UK.

In these countries, goldsmiths stamp their own marks on their gold items themselves and whereas an English gold hallmark is marked that it conforms to all legal standards of purity (fineness).

It will carry between 2 to 5 standard hallmark symbols, a foreign gold hallmark does not always convey the same amount of information.

In Germany, you are only likely to find the manufacturers mark and sometimes a purity mark, usually expressed by a numerical in thousands such as 750 for 18carat although the latter may also be used in some cases.

buy some electronic gold scales

You may also find a local assay office marked but some markings can be misleading and have simply been put on the piece as an extra flourish or because they resemble a genuine hallmark from elsewhere.

The same is true of American marks.

Foreign gold hallmarks will not adhere to one set of rulings.

As with English gold hallmarks they can vary, and without expert knowledge, be hard to decipher.

Are there any really obvious ways of telling quickly if gold metal is English or foreign?

The easiest way is to look at the hallmark and if it does not include a familiar set of English gold hallmarks such as the assay office, makers mark and purity symbol, then it probably is foreign.

This is not all bad news because you may be able to find a purity symbol somewhere on your item.

Many foreign gold hallmarks will show you the gold content of the piece, but you need to be familiar with the gold percentage figures because a number itself may be misleading.

If the number refers to silver or another, metal your item will be worth much less than the solid gold it may appear to be.



Identify marks on foreign silver part 1





A Guide to Foreign Silver part 2




How to Understand International hallmarks





Where to sell your gold?










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The difference between English and Foreign gold hallmarks