If you look very closely at many of my pieces, you will see a series of tiny letters, numbers and symbols. This is the hallmark, and not only is it is a guarantee of the metal’s fineness, it also adds to the story of how, when, and where it was made.
The hallmark consists of a sponsors mark (Sarah Ruth Stanford Jewellery bears the letters ‘SRS’ within a chamfered rectangle), metal and fineness marks, and the official symbol of the ossay office at which the item was tested. My jewellery goes to the brilliant Edinburgh Assay Office, identified by a three-towered castle. You might also see a date letter, which on a hallmark indicates the year the item was tested.
The UK has a long tradition of testing and marking precious metals to guarantee their purity and fineness - Edinburgh Assay Office has been hallmarking precious metals since 1457 - and we are one of very few nations in the world which requires and enforces it by law. It is probably one of the earliest forms of consumer protection still going strong, and it ensures that the item you are buying consists of precious metal of a certain standard.
So, what does this all mean for Sarah Ruth Stanford Jewellery? Well, like any other seller of jewellery and precious metals, I am obliged by law to comply with current regulations. Any item of jewellery which I make must be hallmarked, with the following exceptions: items made of silver and weighing 7.78g or less, and items made of gold and weighing 1g or less. If you have any questions about hallmarking and your jewellery, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best to answer your query!
I’m very fond of the hallmarks on Sarah Ruth Stanford jewellery. My sponsors mark is unique to me, and acts a little like my artist’s signature, and I love being part of the long tradition of hallmarking in the UK. A hallmark is an official mark, but there is a beauty to them which adds to the story of the jewellery, and there is something very special about receiving a parcel back from the assay office containing jewels all stamped and signed off! In my own practice hallmarking usually takes place somewhere in the middle of the creation of a piece, rather than right at the end as you might expect, so receiving the work back means that I can get on with crafting the final details - finishing the construction of the clasps, burnishing the edges, or setting precious gemstones into position - which are often my favourite parts.
Here is an official visual guide to what the various marks of a hallmark mean.
The Hallmarking Act 1973 outlines the current legislation governing hallmarking in the UK, you can read it here.