The Electronic Guide to Assay Offices in the UK

Precious metals used in jewellery and giftware manufacture are always used as an alloy. The precious metal must be mixed with other elements to give it the necessary properties such as flexibility to produce a desirable and durable article.

Even the most experienced jeweller or chemist cannot tell how much precious metal there is in an alloy, just by looking at it, nor whether a thick plating of gold is covering a base metal interior. Due to the high price of precious metals, this offers a huge opportunity for fraud and there has therefore always been a need to protect the public, and honest suppliers, from those who are tempted to cheat them.

Subject to the provisions of the Hallmarking Act 1973, it is an offence to describe articles sold in the U.K. as being wholly or partly made of GOLD, SILVER, PLATINUM or PALLADIUM unless they are hallmarked or exempt. The hallmarking can either be a British Hallmark or a Convention Mark.

British Hallmarks after 1998 consist of a Registered SPONSOR'S Mark, a Standard Mark, and an Assay Office Mark. The complete range of finenesses that the U.K. Assay Offices can hallmark is as follows:

Metal Traditional
Gold 9 Carat 375
14 Carat 585
18 Carat 750
22 Carat916  
Silver   800
Sterling 925
Britannia 958  
Platinum 850  
Palladium 500  

British Hallmarks prior to 1999 consist of a Registered SPONSOR'S Mark, a Standard Mark, an Assay Office Mark and a Date Letter.

There are four independent Assay Offices in the U.K. - London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Sheffield. The British Hallmarking Council is the co-ordinating body. The Ministry responsible for hallmarking regulations is the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

For more information about Assaying in the U.K. we have articles that deal with the historical background to Assaying and a brief description of the Assay Office's Operations.

London Mark The London Assay Office Edinburgh Mark The Edinburgh Assay Office
Goldsmiths' Hall
Gutter Lane
Fone No +44 (0)20 7606 8971
Fax No +44 (0)20 7606 1511
Goldsmiths' Hall
24 Broghton Place
Fone No +44 (0)131 556 1144
Fax No +44 (0)131 556 1177
Birmingham Mark The Birmingham Assay Office Sheffield Mark The Sheffield Assay Office
P.O.Box 151
Newhall Street
B3 1SB
Fone No +44 (0)121 236 6951
Fax No +44 (0)121 236 9032
Guardians Hall
2 Beulah Rd
South Yorkshire
S6 2AN
Fone No +44 (0)114 231 2121
Fax No +44 (0)114 233 9079

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Last Updated 22nd January 2014
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