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:
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.
|The London Assay Office||The Edinburgh Assay Office|
+44 (0)20 7606 8971
+44 (0)20 7606 1511
24 Broghton Place
+44 (0)131 556 1144
+44 (0)131 556 1177
|The Birmingham Assay Office||The Sheffield Assay Office|
+44 (0)121 236 6951
+44 (0)121 236 9032
2 Beulah Rd
+44 (0)114 231 2121
+44 (0)114 233 9079
|Page address http://www.teg.co.uk/assay/assay.htm
Last Updated 22nd January 2014