how to clean jewelry gold at home
British Hallmarks are the best in the world.
Who says so, the rest of the World. Although to be fair, other countries have great hallmarks too, it is just that they are NOT so often seen.
A book on World Hallmarks for Gold or Silver items is a must for any serious collector or dealer, but they can be a little intimidating and time consuming. Is that mark a Cockerel or a Tree? Could it be made in Switzerland or Germany?
Thankfully for the rest of us, a small pocket book on UK Hallmarks is more than up to the task, coupled with that very useful plastic 10X eyeglass I keep on hinting for you to buy.
It will show you that the item has been tested and stamped, to prove it is – what it says it is (9ct or 18ct etc).
British Jewelry with a full UKHM (United Kingdom Hall Mark) is generally clearly stamped and readable after you clean it (check the website below for another complimentary article on ‘How to Clean your Jewelry at Home’).
Once you are aware of the marks, you will always feel just that little bit better when you buy that ‘Could it be an Antique?’ item at the local market, or from the guy in the Pub that everyone talks about but nobody knows.
Six marks on British Jewelry.
1: The Maker’s Mark (Usually some initials). Not all that important for everyday items, unless you want to collect Jewelry from one maker. Silver collectors may want to buy items from say, Bateman (I should be so lucky).
2: The second stamp is the Assay Office mark or ‘Mark of Origin’. It tells you where the item came from. The most common is the LONDON Hallmark. A Leopard’s Head. Sometimes this has a crown on the Leopard’s Head (until circa 1821). Modern items do
NOT have a crown on the Leopard Stamp.
The other most common Assay Office marks are from Birmingham (an Anchor). Once there were many Assay offices around Great Britain and Ireland, the Chester mark for instance. Now there are just three offices left in England, Sheffield being the last using a ‘Rose’ on gold Jewelry (DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH ‘ROSE GOLD’ JEWELRY) as that is a color, not a mark.
In Scotland there is Edinburgh, while in Ireland there is Dublin. Pity the poor Welsh are left out again!
3: The next is the Assay Quality mark and is shown as the ‘Lion Passant’ (which means ‘looking ahead’) and is a guarantee of quality. This was later changed to a ‘CROWN’ mark with a stamp showing the quality of Gold…. 9ct or 18ct etc.
4: Finally, and possibly the most important mark, was the Date letter mark. It changed each year so we can tell when the item was made.
Occasionally there is an extra mark.
5: An example was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.
Suffice to say if you see a Brooch with four or five marks and one of them is an Anchor with an 18 next to it and a letter ‘C’ next to that…. It’s a safe bet it was made in Birmingham in 1927, or was that 1952, or 1902, or, or, or…..
Buyer Beware the man in the Pub.
As with most Jewelry items though, our advise has always been to buy the best QUALITY you can afford from a reputable dealer who will guarantee it.
Other than that, your plastic 10X eyeglass sure helps a lot….
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