A recent report confirmed that up to a third of precious metal products supplied online are un-hallmarked and could therefore be fake. Jewellery fraud has consistently been an issue in the precious metal industry where counterfeit items can be made and sold to the unsuspecting customer at a high price.
Fake jewellery affects the reputation of legitimate businesses and hurts the industry as a whole and without hallmarking enforcement many customers and legitimate businesses are exposed to fraud.
The hallmarking of gold and silver dates back to 1300 when King Edward I introduced it to protect standards and to prevent craftsmen committing fraud when making jewellery.
The first stamp was a leopard’s head which symbolised the King’s mark of authentication. The word ‘hallmark’ didn’t come into use until the 15th century when craftsmen took their artefacts to Goldsmiths’ Hall in London to be assayed. Today there are four assay offices in operation, in London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Sheffield.
Hallmarking techniques and regulations have been fine-tuned since those early days. The current legislation that governs hallmarking has been effective since the creation of the 1973 Hallmarking Act, which is enforced by trading standards officers.
If a jeweller makes items of silver, gold, platinum or palladium and wants to sell them they are obliged to get them assayed, which guarantees they are good quality. The hallmark is then applied so it can legally be put onto the market.
If you believe you may have purchased counterfeit jewellery report it to Dorset Council Trading Standards by visiting the Citizens Advice Consumer Service at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer or by calling their new freephone number 0808 223 1133.
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