Our office is closed from Thursday 18th to Tuesday 23rd

Our office is closed from Thursday 18th October. Orders can still be placed over this period, but dispatch will not take place until Tuesday 23rd October.

"Next Day" orders will be delivered before 1pm on Wednesday 24th October.

Our service desk will answer any telephone or email enquiries from 9.30am on Wednesday 24th October ... With thanks.

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Silver Hallmarks

Hallmarks are your guarantee of the fineness and purity of the silver you are buying. This is one of the oldest consumer protection marks in the world, dating back to the reign of Edward I in the 14th century. The first assay office was established in 1478 at the Goldsmiths Hall and it was for this reason these assay stamps became called "Hall" marks.

At its peak, there were more than ten assay offices in cities throughout the UK. This has dropped to just four, based in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh. Each assay office has its own mark to identify the place of assay. London uses a Leopard's head, Birmingham an anchor, Sheffield a Yorkshire (or Tudor) rose and Edinburgh a castle.

London Leopard Hallmark    Leopard's Head Hallmark from the London Assay Office

Birmingham Anchor Hallmark    Anchor Hallmark from the Birmingham Assay Office

Sheffield Rose Hallmark    Rose Hallmark from the Sheffield Assay Office

Edinburgh Castle Hallmark    Castle Hallmark from the Edinburgh Assay Office

  

Other marks will tell you even more about your gift.

There is a date letter which will tell you the year of assay:

Date letters for UK Hallmarks

The purity mark (or millesimal mark) tells you the percentage of silver in the alloy. Sterling Silver is 92.5% silver, with the rest being made up of other alloys, most commonly copper. For this reason the purity mark for Sterling Silver is 925. Many silver gifts also carry the traditional "Lion Passant" symbol for Sterling Silver. This isn't a legal obligation, but is a common practice.

925 silver hallmark & lion passant

Alternatively, the purity mark can read "958". This is the "Britannia" mark and shows that the silver content is 95.8% silver. This is often accompanied by a second mark with the image of Britannia herself. Objects made from Britannia silver are less common and usually restricted to tableware. We don't currently stock any Britannia silver items.

Britannia silver hallmark

A further hallmark is the "Sponsor's" mark or "Makers" mark which indicates the maker of the piece or, in some cases, the company that has commissioned the piece. Silversmiths register their own mark with their local assay office.

 

On occasions the assay offices issue commemorative hallmarks. These are used rarely. The last one to be used was in 2012 for the Queens Diamond Jubilee. Previous marks were in 1953 for the Coronation, 1977 for the Silver Jubilee and in 2000 for the new millennium.