Artisan jewellery is a very special thing. It has a sole. Each shape and twist has been designed and planned. Every link and curve had been created by hand. In a world of mass-production and throw-away culture it is so important to keep crafts like silversmithing and jewellery making alive. And you're doing just that by buying well and choosing to support independent makers and artists, so thank you!
I have made countless pieces of jewellery over the years but I remember all of them! Last year at a craft fair I spotted a lady wearing a necklace I'd made about 5 years before. It was wonderful feeling to say "I like your necklace... I made that!" and even more amazing to hear her say she wears it all the time and it's her favourite piece!
I love to know that my work is out there being treasured and bringing joy to people. There's years of training and hours of work behind every piece of jewellery I hand craft. Every piece is an investment for the customer supporting my work but also in a quality piece of jewellery you can wear with pride and maybe hand down to someone special one day.
How do you know the jewellery you're paying for is the real thing? Well you can get to know the small business who made it (hi!) but also check for a hallmark.
What is a Hallmark?
A hallmark is a small mark on your jewellery that guarantees it is made from the precious metal that the seller claims it is. It is a sign of quality and an assurance to you the customer that you are getting a genuine precious metal article.
Precious metals include silver, gold, platinum or palladium.
What does it look like?
The mark has 3 or more parts.
- The Sponsors mark shows who has made the jewellery. My sponsors mark is a SZ in a circle and only my jewellery can have this unique mark.
- The Fineness mark show what metal it is made from, 925 means Sterling Silver.
- The Assay Office mark shows where it was tested and hallmarked. My jewellery is hallmarked by the Edinburgh Assay office and this is represented by a castle symbol.
There are additional optional marks too like a date mark. For example 'S' shows it was hallmarked in 2017.
The hallmark is often very small and placed in a position that doesn’t affect the finished look of the jewellery; either on the back or on the inside of a ring or bangle. Sometimes the hallmark is made larger or placed in full view as a decorative design element of the finished piece.
925 on its own doesn't count as a hallmark. Anyone can buy a steel punch online and stamp this onto their jewellery. In order to have jewellery hallmarked in the UK a jeweller has to apply to one of the four Assay Offices (London, Birmingham, Sheffield or Edinburgh) and pay to have a sponsors mark registered. This mark and the official marks of the hallmark can only be applied by the assay office.
Different countries have different rules about how jewellery should be marked so if you have purchased jewellery abroad it won't have a UK hallmark.
Is it necessary?
Yes. It is a legal requirement that all jewellery claiming to be made from a precious metal and sold in the UK carries a hallmark. There are exemptions however. The weight threshold for silver jewellery is 7.78g so anything less than this doesn't require a hallmark.
My Essential Collections pieces and silver band rings don't have a hallmark - they're not heavy enough to need it and it would significantly increase the price but it can be added as an optional extra.
If you would like buy a piece of my jewellery that doesn't need a hallmark but would like it all the same just contact me prior to purchase and I'll arrange this for you.
So now you know. Check your jewellery for a hallmark and always ask if its hallmarked before buying to make sure you are getting what you’re paying for.