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By law items made of precious metals must be hallmarked if they exceed the minimum weight of the relevant precious metal.

A hallmark is made up of the following compulsory marks, details sourced from the Assay Office of Scotland:

Sponsor's or maker's mark

Indicates the maker or sponsor of the article. In Britain, this mark consists of at least two letters within a shield, and no two marks are the same.

My makers mark is my initials "AT" inside a rectangular shield with squared off corners. It is visible in this photograph of the full hallmark taken from one of my items which was hallmarked in 2010:

Metal and fineness (purity) mark

Indicates the precious metal content of the article, and that it is not less than the fineness indicated. Since 1999, all finenesses are indicated by a millesimal number (eg 375 is 9ct). This number is contained in a shield, the shape of which depicts the precious metal.

Assay Office mark

Indicates the particular Assay Office at which the article was tested and marked. There are now four British Assay Offices - Edinburgh, London, Birmingham, and Sheffield. There were other Assay Offices in former times.

The mark for the Edinburgh office is the castle:

Assay Office of Scotland - Castle hallmark image

Dealers Notice

By law, dealers must display the Hallmarking Act Section 11 Notice

Voluntary Date mark

Each calendar year has a single letter date mark allocated to it. This date mark was a compulsory part of the hallmark until 1999. I choose to have the date mark added to any item I get hallmarked as I like the idea of marking the year in which an item was assessed.

More details about hallmarking and the marks used are available at the Assay Office of Scotland.

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