Hallmarks and Precious Metals
A hallmark is a series of symbols stamped onto precious metal articles by the British assay offices, certifying their standard of purity.
This is mark of assurance, and provides a clear indication of the quality of metal, having been tested at one of the country's Assay Offices. Each stamp carries a particular mark, an explanation of which we have included below.
Hallmarks are provided following tests carried out by an assay office. There are four in the UK , London , Birmingham , Sheffield and Edinburgh. These are the symbols represented in the hallmarks for the relevant assay office in the UK. Each of the Assay Offices of Great Britain receive an astounding quantity of items, with the largest, the Birmingham Assay Office, working through over 12 million items per year.
London Assay Office
Birmingham Assay Office
Sheffield Assay Office
Edinburgh Assay Office
Comparing Precious Metal Weights
For converting the weight of one metal to another we have produced a weight comparison chart to give a better understanding of equivalent weight. For estimating how heavy one ring will be in an alternative precious metal choice. This chart covers most precious metals. Most metals vary in their density and weight. The basic cost of a precious metal is calculated by multiplying the gram weight, by the metal price, which is calculated daily. The scrap metal price tends to be much lower.
Choosing the Right Metal
The following questions are regularly asked by clients trying to decide which metal is best.
So which precious metal do I choose?
This is a matter of personal choice but a few factors may help you decide which you will want to purchase. Firstly budget will be a deciding factor. If you are looking for white gold jewellery, platinum is naturally white, but 18 carat gold will be perfectly adequate and will have a very high polish and ultra white rhodium finish, furthermore it might be a more affordable option.
But most of my jewellery is yellow gold. Which should I choose?
If you already have one colour of gold in your wardrobe, you may wish to remain with one colour, or buy jewellery that combines white with yellow gold, thereby introducing white into your collection. If you are interested in any of our jewellery and cannot see your preferred combination, we can tailor make the piece for you if you contact us.
Should I buy platinum if my other jewellery is gold?
There is no reason why you shouldn’t. Platinum is a luxurious metal that is very pure and will always retain its natural whiteness. It will blend in with jewellery that is white gold and will compliment other jewellery that is yellow gold, only adding versatility to an existing wardrobe.
Should I worry about rhodium plating wearing away?
The rhodium plating applied to white gold jewellery is extremely hard and will take an enormous amount of wear. The colour will remain and it would take a long time to notice any change in colour. When your jewellery needs re-polishing, this can easily be done by a jeweller and the piece can be re-rhodium plated to bring your ring back to the original condition. We would be happy to provide this service at any time. Rhodium plating will not affect hallmarks and is a applied to white gold jewellery by most jewellers.
One of the newest metals that has become more available is Palladium. It is now very easy to produce palladium jewellery, including wedding rings and engagement rings. Further details of the advantages of this metal can be found on our Palladium information page.
Alternative Precious Metals
Read the following sections below for further information on guidance for Platinum and Palladium, popular alternatives to Gold. Here you will find information on hallmarks and answers to common questions about both metal types.
Platinum is a very popular choice for both engagement ring and wedding rings. This metal is a dense, naturally grey-white metal polished to a mirror finish with beautiful results. We have a detailed information page on Platinum jewellery which includes many questions and answers on this metal choice. Read more about Platinum here.
Palladium is a metal choice that many people don't know too much about. Palladium steadily grows in popularity – this metal is a less costly alternative to Platinum and is much lighter. Read more about Palladium here.
Gold jewellery varies in value and composition depending on the purity of gold alloyed with other metals. The following symbols denote which type of gold is used. Most gold jewellery in the UK will appear with one of the following stamps.
9 Carat Gold
9ct Gold is available in a few colours, most popularly yellow and white gold. This is a less expensive precious metal than 18 carat gold. It contains 37.5% gold and is alloyed with other metals to increase the hardness, durability and colour. It is represented by the figures 375 in hallmarks. Not as hardwearing as 18 carat gold or platinum, jewellery in 9 carat gold can feel lighter when worn, but remains very popular and is widely used in jewellery production. 9ct white gold hallmarks and 9ct yellow gold hallmarks will carry this figure. 9ct Gold tends to have a hardness level of 120 Vickers.
14 Carat Gold14 carat gold is most generally represented by the 585 symbol within the hallmark. This is an alloy of Gold that is between 9ct and 14ct Gold. The symbol represents the fineness of the Gold which is 58.5% pure Gold. This is often seen abbreviated to either 14ct, 14kt or 14K. 14ct Gold jewellery is very popular in the USA than the UK, where 9ct Gold and 18ct Gold tend to be more readily available.
18ct Carat Gold18ct Gold is one of the most popular precious metals for gold engagement rings and high quality jewellery. It contains 75% pure gold and is represented by the figure 750 on hallmarks. It is available in both yellow and white gold. Because of the high content of gold, 18 carat white gold would naturally appear more of a straw white colour. Most white gold jewellery is Rhodium plated to finish the item with a very white, hard and durable coat. This hard finish will eventually wear, especially on rings worn on a daily basis.