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Getting the Right Hallmark

We are often asked by customers which type of hallmark is best suited to their jewellery or silverware.  A common misconception is that laser hallmarking is the only solution for delicate or finished items.  This article aims to give an overview of the key things to consider when deciding on which type of hallmark to apply.  Your choices will partly be governed by the stage in the manufacturing process at which your work is submitted. Our own internal quality standards on how a hallmark should look are explained in our 5Ps of a Perfect Hallmark.

Things to consider

These are the important things to consider when deciding which size and type of hallmark should be applied.

  1. What stage of manufacture is the item at?
  2. How much available space is there on the item?
  3. What is the thickness of metal in the marking area?
  4. Is the item hollow or solid?
  5. Will the hallmark form a visible feature on the finished piece?
Laser or punch marking?

If an article is fully finished and ready to sell then the options for hallmarking are more limited.  The Edinburgh Assay Office routinely applies hand and machine punch marks to fully finished articles.  In these cases, the size of the hallmark is normally restricted to less than 0.5mm in height.  Specialist supports are used to ensure that there is no distortion or bruising and the depth of the mark is carefully controlled for the same reason.  We apply in excess of 40,000 hallmarks this way, every week. If an article is hollow or does not provide a suitable surface area for hallmarking by punch, we are also able to apply marks by laser.  Lighter marks and surface laser marks are less durable than deeper punch marks or deep laser marks but if the article does not require further finishing, then the mark should easily last the lifetime of the product.

If an article is submitted at an early stage of manufacture then the options for hallmarking are limited only by the surface area available for the hallmark and the gauge of the metal.  If a punch mark is applied at an early stage of manufacture then any distortion, displacement or bruising of the metal can be removed as part of the final finishing process.  This allows the Assay Office to apply a larger mark and a deeper mark.  After final finishing the mark should be deep, clear and crisp.  If the article is laser hallmarked and the article is going to undergo further polishing, you should always request an extra deep laser mark to ensure it will withstand the polishing process.  The deeper the laser mark, the longer it takes to burn.  Deeper laser marks are more costly for this reason.

Talk about your hallmark

Hallmarking is a legal requirement but we believe that a hallmark adds significant value to any piece of jewellery.  In order to fully leverage that added value the presence of the hallmark needs to be highlighted.  The story behind each hallmark and what it means, should form part of each article’s point of sale narrative.  The advice to all of our clients is to point out the hallmark, explain what it is and what each article must undergo to get a hallmark.  We guarantee the consumer will take comfort in the independent, traceable guarantee of precious metal purity.  The hallmarking system is unique to the precious metal jewellery industry.  It lets the consumer know they are buying something of real value.  Your knowledge of hallmarking, and your commitment to its independent verification, will let the consumer know they are buying from a jewellery professional.

If you would like to discuss anything covered in this article please contact us here.