On Your Marks....
Have you had a look inside your ring? Or on the back of your pendant?
Depending on how good your eyes are, you may be able to see the Hallmark!
When a modern piece of jewellery is created (unless they fall under the minimum weight threshold, like ear-rings may do), it will have been to an Assay Office to make sure that the metal meets the quality and quantity of precious metal that it should contain.
The chart below lets you know what numbers to look out for. These numbers are essentially how many parts of precious metal there are in a total of 1000 parts. For example, the "750" you find in 18ct gold means that for every 1000 parts, 750 parts are gold (the remaining 250 parts are what are added to give it a hardness, or a change of colour). This is referred to as the Fineness Mark, and would help you identify what material it is (Gold, Platinum, Palladium or Silver).
But a Hallmark can also give more information - There is the Sponsor's Mark, a collection of letters which identify who has made or arranged for the the item to be hallmarked. Our mark is "IER", but you may also find "MI'A" in some of your older pieces.
The Assay Office Mark lets you know where the Hallmark was carried out. As a Yorkshire Jeweller, our mark is registered with the Yorkshire Assay Office in Sheffield, who use a Yorkshire Rose for their mark, but it is also common to see the marks for Birmingham and London.
The Date Letter is currently an optional mark, but is very useful when applied, letting you know the year that the item was hallmarked (particularly interesting when looking at family heirlooms!).
The Hallmarking Act 1973 in the UK is what safeguards the quality of jewellery for sale in this way, other countries around the world do not take such measures (indeed there are additional marks reserved for identifying jewellery which has been imported). We are proud to say that we are fully compliant in such an important and interesting piece of legislature. If you have any questions about a Hallmark in your jewellery, come in and ask!