It is the largest Assay office in the world and tests a staggering 40,000 to 80,000 items each working day. The hustle and bustle behind the imposing exterior harks back to the city’s industrial heydays, when it was one of the busiest centres of the silver industry.
Its Founder, the famous 18th-century ‘Brummie’ entrepreneur Matthew Boulton, created The Birmingham Assay Office to give the city’s burgeoning silver industry a fighting chance. At that time the nearest Assay offices were Chester and London, and sending items to Chester to be hallmarked was a logistical nightmare. Boulton and a number of the city’s leading industrialists joined forces with Sheffield’s silversmiths to lobby Parliament, calling them to establish an Assay Office in both Birmingham and Sheffield.
The rest, as they say, is history. The Birmingham Assay Office was founded by an Act of Parliament in 1773.
Today, Boulton’s legacy lives on – the ONLY one of his many enterprises to make it to the 21st century. The Birmingham Assay Office currently houses state-of-the-art laboratories and an amazing collection of world-renowned experts.
Chief Executive Michael Allchin said, “As the largest Assay Office in the world we put our continued success down to the combination of our heritage and world-renowned expertise together with our forward-looking outlook. We are proud of our reputation as a progressive organisation and we are constantly looking for ways we can improve our services.”
In addition to its statutory hallmarking duties, The Birmingham Assay Office offers a wide range of services, including independent diamond certification, precious metal analysis, nickel testing and independent jewellery valuations. “Consumers are becoming increasingly demanding; they have more disposable income but there is also more competition and jewellers need to give their customers reassurance,” said Mr Allchin.
Gold, Silver, Platinum, Diamonds, Pearls, Rubies, Tanzanite, – whatever the sparkle, The Birmingham Assay Office offers expert opinion on every aspect of the precious metal, jewellery and gemstone trade.