Macro photograph of a jewelry hallmark, showcasing intricate details and symbols, illustrating the significance of hallmarks in jewelry certification and quality.

Demystifying Hallmarks in Jewellery: What You Need to Know


When I first started crafting silver jewellery here in London, the enigmatic realm of Hallmarks caught me by surprise.

It was unexpected because it brought about an obligatory additional cost for my pieces, a factor I hadn't considered as a newbie.

The hallmark involves a set of symbols and numbers stamped on precious metals by a public authority that rigorously tests the metals to certify their authenticity.

In Italy, we don't have a parallel system. While precious metals are marked, it's the maker, registered as a certified goldsmith, who takes the responsibility of certifying the metals' purity.

In the UK, any item made from precious metals and sold to the public must bear a hallmark from a third party, such as the Goldsmiths’ Center in London. As a maker, you need to register your company with them. When you have an item ready for hallmarking, you send it to them. They conduct a series of tests on the metal before applying the marks, either with a laser or a metal punch.

Is hallmarking necessary for all items? Thankfully, no. It depends on their weight.

For silver items, those weighing less than 7.78 grams can legally be sold without a hallmark.

For gold, the weight limit is 1 gram. Anything weighing less than 1 gram can be sold as gold without the hallmark, while anything over 1 gram needs the hallmark for sale.

In the case of earrings, each earring is considered a single item. To be eligible for the hallmark, they need to weigh individually more than the minimum weight. For example, if a pair of earrings weighs 10 grams together but each earring weighs only 5 grams, there's no legal requirement for a hallmark.

The "925" stamp you may find on some items is not the legal stamp. It could mean two things: the piece's weight was under the legal limit (7.78 grams), but the maker chose to mark it anyway, which is acceptable, or the piece is incorrectly marked (perhaps imported), risking an expensive fine.

Does the hallmark affect the jewellery's price? Unfortunately, as a maker, I would say yes.

The hallmarking process itself isn't free; it costs £14 for up to 2 items or £18 for a pack of 3 items, plus £1.10 for each extra piece added to the lot (as of 2021).

While this cost is nearly inconsequential for gold items, where a small piece in the lowest carat of gold wouldn't cost less than £150-200, it significantly matters for silver jewellery. This extra cost is why I tend to send a bunch of jewellery together, distributing the cost among them.

"Why can't I see the hallmark?" you might wonder.

The hallmark is stamped very small (in millimetres) and not very deep, especially if made with a laser. Often, hallmarks are placed in jump rings or ear wires, making them difficult to spot. In the case of earrings, not only are hallmarks hard to see, but they can also vanish due to the rubbing off of the butterfly on the wire.

What about imported jewellery or plated ones? Do they need to be hallmarked?

For plated jewellery, it depends on the metal forming the base of the piece. Is it silver? Does it weigh more than 7.78 grams? If yes, the piece needs to be hallmarked as silver. However, for gold-plated pieces, the gold layer is so thin that it's highly improbable to weigh more than 1 gram, so they don't need a hallmark.

For imported jewellery, the law applies to everything SOLD in the UK, regardless of where it was manufactured.

I hope this post helps you better grasp the meaning of hallmarks.

Sending love,

Alice x