Ever wondered what the markings inside your ring mean?
For a ring to be sold in the UK it needs to have a Hallmark. Hallmarks were introduced in the UK as a quality measure almost 700 years ago, it puts the buyer at ease that the item has been independently tested for its purity.
Different metals have different symbols, but can have the same number for example Platinum and Palladium both can have a 950 number. Some items do not have a hall mark if they fall below the required weight, gold = 1 gram, silver = 7.78 grams, platinum 0.5 grams.
Since 1999 it has been compulsory for items to comprise of a minimum of three marks, the Sponsors Mark, Metal Purity Mark and the Assay Office Mark.
The sponsors mark refers to who commissioned the item to be hallmarked, for example a jeweller may have hand made a new piece and wished to sell it in the UK. The sponsors mark usually consists of a couple of letters in a differing font within a shape. No two sponsor marks are the same.
Metal Purity Mark
The metal purity or fineness mark refers to how much of the precious metal is actually in the ring. It consists of a three digit number within a shape. 375 is 9ct and means that 9ct gold is made up of 37.5% pure gold and is mixed with other metals to create the piece. Often 24ct gold or pure gold would be too soft to make a ring etc, so the gold is mixed with other alloying materials such as copper, silver, nickel, palladium and zinc.
Assay Office Mark
Currently the UK has four Assay offices, these include, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Birmingham and London. In the past more offices have existed.
Many other hallmarks exist including the Date Mark, Common Control Mark, Traditional Fineness Mark and the Commemorative Mark. Further details can be found here.