Hallmarks are applied in one of three ways. The traditional method of hand punching and hydraulic press punching are still widely used throughout the industry but in the 21st century, many hallmarks are now laser etched onto items, particularly for hollow, highly finished or intricate items or jewellery and watched.
The sponsors mark is the unique mark of the company or person responsible for sending the article for hallmarking. The sponsor maybe the original manufacturer, importer, wholesaler, retailer or an individual. To obtain a Sponsors mark you must register with an Assay Office.
The Standard Hallmark Mark demonstrates the standard of finesse, i.e. the purity of the precious metal content in parts per 1000. For example, 18 carat gold is 750 parts per 1000 by weight.
The Assay Office Mark shows which Assay Office tested and marked the item.
The Date Mark defined by a stamped letter shows the year in which the article was hallmarked.
Traditional Marks – Still in use today, these traditional marks are sometimes used to show the type of metal.
Commemorative marks – These are special hallmarks to celebrate major events such as the Queens Golden Jubilee (2002) and passing of the Millennium (1999 – 2000).
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.