Gold, silver, platinum and palladium are rarely used in their purest form. Instead, they are usually alloyed with lesser metals to achieve a desired strength, durability, and colour. It is not possible to detect by sight or touch the precious metal content of an item. Therefore, it is a legal requirement that any item containing gold, silver, platinum or palladium be hallmarked, if it is to be described as such.

A hallmark tells the story of who made an article, what the article is made of (gold, silver, platinum, or palladium), the fineness of the precious metal, and where the article was assayed.

A hallmark must consist of at least three compulsory marks; a Sponsor’s mark (Maker’s mark), a Metal Fineness mark, and an Assay Office town mark. A hallmark may also include an optional date letter, indicating when the article was hallmarked, or an optional traditional Metal Fineness mark, such as the Lion Rampant (Sterling silver). View the dealers notice here to finds out what a hallmark looks like. Read our simple guide to what should be hallmarked here.

Read the current UK Hallmarking Act here.