Folksy Ltd

Assaying jewellery

Although I already work with sterling silver wire I have been thinking of going down the route of silver-smithing in the near future but I’m in two minds of whether or not I would have my work assayed so I hope you don’t mind me asking a few questions on the subject…

Would it put you off buying a piece of jewellery if it wasn’t assayed?
If you make silver / gold jewellery do you have your pieces assayed?

Any help on this would be much appreciated.

that’s funny I was also thinking about introducing a few silver bits, so I would be interested in what people think too. In the past I have bought sterling silver rings and pendants which have been hand crafted and not been assayed , I just kind of look at peoples feedback and how happy people are with their items. I have been happy with my purchases, but I guess it could put some buyers off

Suzanne :o)

I get quite a lot of mine assayed - as far as I know it is still the law in this country that anything over a certain weight being called silver or gold has to be assayed.
Most small silver items would be too light ( it is around 7 grams) but often bangles are a different matter.
I find that it gives people confidence ,at craft fairs especially to spend more, so I get earrings hallmarked too.

It is very expensive to register and send stuff off , so I would get started making smaller things and if you have the odd item that needs hallmarking get it done via Cookson Gold, they send batches of lots of peoples work off , which is still pricey but saves the hundreds for registration and punch making.

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I thought you couldn’t claim something was silver unless it was assayed and could only been sold as white metal.

If the law hasn’t changed then over 7.? grams that is still true. 7.7 comes to mind , but I’m not sure.

I just looked and found this -
If you sell an item of gold that weighs more than 1 gram, or an item of sterling silver that weighs more than 7.78 grams, or an item of platinum that weighs more than 0.5 grams, the piece by law MUST be hallmarked , if you are calling it gold silver or platinum.

Apparently if a customer buys something claiming to be precious metal and it isn’t properly hallmarked they can report you to trading standards and get you prosecuted -

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I have my pieces of work hallmarked if they weigh 7.78grams or above. Most of my items don’t weigh that much.

I have my own markers mark (ARC) registered with the London Assay Office and I usually get work assayed in batches of 20 - 30 items at a time. Yes, it is costly but it does reassure customers of the quality and fineness of the item they are buying.

“The UK Hallmarking Act (1973) states that it is an offence for any person, in the course of trade or business, to describe an un-hallmarked article as being wholly or partly made of precious metal(s) or to supply un-hallmarked articles to which such a description is applied.”

So basically it is illegal to describe a sterling silver item weighing more than 7.78 grams as sterling silver unless it is hallmarked.

I personally wouldn’t buy a substantial piece of jewellery that wasn’t hallmarked.

Many of my items are bought as gifts and I think having a hallmark makes it that bit more special and people feel like they are making an investment.

I’ve had people at events say things like ‘I’m glad it’s hallmarked as you can never be too sure what you’re buying these days’. So it definitely gives people confidence in my work.

There’s a lot of information about it on the Goldsmiths’ website http://www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk

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I knew it was a costly business, and glad to hear it has to be of a certain weight , I have only bought very light items. I have a very chunky silver ring but that is hallmarked with a few different marks.

So you can get away with small items, that’s good to hear, I’ve been practising in copper and brass, it may be some time until I work out how to price sterling silver items - probably a way off yet! thanks for the advice , even though it was prob meant for Louise :smiley:

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I’m glad I asked now, wow there is a lot to it it seems. Thank you all so much for the info.

Sounds like the road to go down is more research alongside building up my collection of tools and beginning to practice on copper and brass. I do love my wire work though so that will keep me busy until I’m ready, feels like a huuuuuge leap to take.

I had better look into all of the items that I have made using silver wire that are quite bulky. I have one bangle that may be more than 7 grams but I’m not sure where it could be hallmarked so would that mean I have to sell it as white metal and reduce the price? It’s an absolute minefield when your getting started

Even if you had to sell it as white metal you would not need to reduce the price, it is what it is after all.
7.78 grams is quite a lot, so you may be ok , you can get quite cheap digital scales from Cooksons.

Thanks Deborah, I think I will invest in some jewellery scales to help keep me right.

I ended up just sending an e-mail to the assay office, I looked at 2 websites and both contradicted themselves.

Thanks again for all the info here, I’ll post the answer I get from them here too.

An informative thread. Does anyone know if pieces containing Hill Tribe silver over the 7.78 gm threshold have to be hallmarked?

I have my own mark registered at Goldsmiths Hall London. Hallmarking is costly and I offer it as an extra service. A good tip is if your unsure about the weight of the item you’ve made work out how much silver you’ve used and put it into Cooksons as an order, this will tell you the grams.

It is costly to get everything in place, roughly £180 or there abouts, thats for your registration and your stamp, but i think if you are going down the silver route then it benefits you and your customers to do this, simply because you have piece of mind knowing that you are selling the quality of silver that you are advertising, and your customers will have more confidence in buying from you.

I too have my items hallmarked even though they are less than 7.78 (not earrings unless they are tablet style or contain a wide enough are to stamp). I use Sheffield Assay Office and have my own makers mark JO I take mine in in batches of 15 upwards as the assay office do have a minimum spend per order, so if you are only wanting one item hallmarking it can prove costly.

As said cooksons will assay for you but then (if i’m not wrong) it will be their makers mark that is on the piece and not your own, another reason for getting your own stamp is the piece will always be credited to you.

At one time you could buy items with just the 925 stamp on them and never worry about them being anything other than silver, but now so much foreign jewellery comes in with the 925 stamp and i’m afraid to say they are not always what they seem, you could say the 925 on its own is a way of saying it should be sterling silver but has not been verified, this is the reason i decided to go down the hallmarking route, Piece of mind for my customers.

Good idea to practice on the copper and brass etc before jumping into silver, i can honestly say I melted quite a few pieces in my early days :smiley:

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Sarah - apparently everything sold in the UK as silver over the weight- no matter where it was made should be hallmarked.

Another point that should be raised here is if you make jewellery from silver that had previously been hallmarked, it is a legal requirement to get permission from the Assay Office to convert it. They issue a Certificate and re-mark it. This is costly and a lot of spoon ring makers don’t bother. Even if you are only bending it into another shape it still has to be sent to them for change of use.
But inspectors are everywhere and you could be fined.

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I’ve not got much to add that hasn’t already been said here, but I got registered with the London assay office a couple of months ago. It cost around £160 for the registration and a stamp to be made. I think it’ll take a long time to make the money back but I have made a few heavy weight bangles that were over the 7.78g limit so I had no choice as I wanted to stay on the right side of the law! I have noticed a fair few sellers on here that sell what looks to me like over the limit silver and there’s no mention of hallmarking on either the listing or the sellers profile page - I wonder if they are just being cheeky and getting away with it or genuinly don’t know the rules?

Claire @TheDragonflyLane I think it’s possible just not knowing the rules. I only asked out of curiosity of the benefits ect.
I’m so glad I did ask now and will be weighing out everything I have made from wire that may be on the heavy side just to make sure I don’t break the rules.

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Probably a bit of both to be honest! I wouldn’t be happy knowing that I could get done by trading standards but I only found out the rules when I read about it in a silversmithing book I bought. I imagine a lot of people don’t even think about it.

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Theresa, just curious (not a silver smith!!). Taking your example of spoons, do you mean that, even if the spoon retained its original hallmark, you’d need to get permission from the Assay Office to sell it on as a bracelet or pendant (using examples of things I’ve seen made with spoon handles!)? Or do you mean that if the item has to be re-hallmarked (because you removed the part with the original hallmark), then you need to apply to the Assay Office?

@LizzieMade as far as I’ve heard it’s if you make an item of jewellery from say an old spoon or fork, even if it’s still got the original hallmark on then you have to apply for a change of use certificate - I don’t know how much it costs but I’ve heard it’s expensive, which is probably why you see so many that don’t bother!

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