- A hallmark is a quality
control mark placed on an article made of precious metal. Sometimes
called a hall, assay or standard mark. It is usually applied after
accurate independent testing by an assay office. In the United Kingdom,
there are four Assay Offices which are legally empowered to test
precious metal objects, and to apply a hallmark to them. These offices
are in London, Sheffield, Birmingham, and Edinburgh.
- Hallmarks are important
because they guarantee to the consumer that the article has been
independently tested to be of the stated minimum purity. They also
inform and protect vendors from unintentionally mis-describing an
article. The presence of a hallmark avoids the necessity of re-testing a
piece whenever it is valued or offered for resale.
- In recent years, Assay
Office London has received over 69,000 packets containing over 6 million
articles per year. The Assay Office is registered to ISO 9001:2000.
- Before items made of
precious metals such as silver, gold or platinum are stamped with an
assay's hallmark they undergo rigorous testing to prove whether or not
the metal purity measures up to the established standards. In fact, the
word assay is derived from the French word meaning to test, trail or
- The basic method of
assaying, also known as the cupellation process, was first introduced by
the ancient Egyptians.
- Traditionally, the
hallmarks are 'struck' using steel punches. Punches are made in
different sizes, suitable for tiny pieces of jewellary to large silver
- Laser marking also means
that finished articles do not need to be re-finished. Laser marking
works by using high power lasers to evaporate material from the metal
- Assaying and Hallmarking
centers are facilitated with the equipment and machinery to check the
fineness and karat of gold in gold jewellary and laser marking machines
to hallmark jewellary.
- Hallmarked jewelry
carries five marks - the BIS logo, the fineness number, mark of the
hallmarking center, year of marking and the jewelers mark.
- The principal objective
of Hallmarking is to maintain legal standards of purity /fineness in
gold. In India, the BSI i.e. Bureau of Indian Standards undertakes
certification of purity of gold jewellary in accordance with Indian
Standards IS:1417 Grades of Gold and Gold Alloys.
- At present, there are
about 37 assaying and hallmarking centers in India - 8 in Tamil Nadu, 8
in Kerala, 6 in Maharashtra, 5 in Gujarat, 5 in Delhi, 3 in West Bengal,
1 in Andhra Pradesh and 1 in Karnataka..
- India is the largest
consumer of gold, followed by the USA. Indian jewellery has a huge
demand in the world. India exported gold jewellery worth US $ 3,813
million in year 2004-05.
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