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Gold (Au)

Pure gold can be mixed/alloyed with many other metals. The purer the gold content, the more expensive the cost. In the UK, gold fineness is officially tested at one of the assay offices and given a valid mark of fineness. 18 carat gold is hallmarked 750, which means there are 750 parts of pure gold per 1000. This mark will appear alongside the maker’s mark and the hallmarking office’s official stamp. A number mark alone does not guarantee fineness.

Beware, gold bought abroad does not always reach the fineness indicated because no official testing has been done and the actual gold content could vary considerably.

Coloured gold is created by changing the alloy mix to influence the colour, e.g. more copper in the alloy will turn the gold red, whilst adding a strong white metal such as palladium, will turn the gold to white.

Fun Fact: There is 0.2 milligrams of Gold in your body, most of which is in your blood…Sadly, it’s not enough to strike it rich. 

Silver (Ag)

800 Silver

Commonly found in vintage or antique pieces, the 800 stamp means that there is 800/1000 parts pure silver, or 80% pure silver with the remaining 20% made up of other alloys.

Sterling Silver

A metal alloy made up of 92.5% pure silver.

Britannia Silver

A metal alloy made up of 95.8%  pure silver. It is notably softer than sterling silver

Fine Silver

Also called ‘Pure Silver’, contains 99.9% silver, with the remaining elements being trace alloys.


EPNS stands for ‘Electro Plated Nickel Silver’.  These items either have no silver content at all, or very little.

Fun Fact:  The chemical symbol for Silver is Ag, which is an abbreviation of the Latin word for silver, ‘argentum’.

Platinum (Pt) and Palladium (Pd)

Platinum fineness marks assayed in the UK

Fun Fact: If all of the mined platinum was melted into an Olympic size swimming pool, it would only cover your ankles.


Palladium fineness marks assayed in the UK

Fun Fact: Palladium was discovered in 1803 and named after the asteroid Pallas, which itself was named after Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.


What is a Hallmark?

A hallmark is a series of marks stamped on articles of gold, silver, platinum and palladium by the British assay offices. They certify the item’s purity, where it was assayed and the maker. Some articles will also have a letter stamp, signifying the year of hallmark / manufacture.

The Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office describe a hallmark as:

Consists of a series of marks applied to articles of the precious metals platinum, gold, palladium and silver.

Means that the article has been independently tested.

Guarantees that it conforms to all legal standards of purity (fineness).

Guarantees provenance by certifying, as a minimum legal requirement, where the piece was hallmarked, what the article is made from, and who sent the article for hallmarking. 

Visit The Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office website for more information on the different types of hallmarks,

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