City of Hull Trading Standards has won the British Hallmarking Council’s Touchstone Award 2016, with judges praising the organisation’s commitment to hallmarking enforcement and raising consumer awareness.
The annual Touchstone Award is presented by the British Hallmarking Council (BHC) and is funded entirely by the four UK Assay Offices. The Award was launched in 2012 to encourage education and enforcement of hallmarking and to reward the best initiative relating to hallmarking.
Despite receiving many worthy applications this year, the judges were unanimous in their decision to give the 2016 Touchstone Award to City of Hull Trading Standards.
City of Hull Trading Standards’ initiative started with a small exercise in 2014-15, which found that only 60% of jewellers’ premises visited were fully compliant with the Hallmarking Act. It then planned a further exercise for 2015-16, which included a much wider survey. As before, unhallmarked jewellery was found and, as a result, one independent store was fined for hallmarking offences and the directors of a multiple store business were required to closely review and improve the company’s procedures, resulting in the implementation of a much more rigorous system.
As is often the case with hallmarking infringements, the investigations by City of Hull Trading Standards uncovered unexpected additional offences. These included prosecuting a retailer who was also running an eBay site with a completely separate stock, much of which was not hallmarked but was authenticated by unsubstantiated certificates and inaccurate valuations that mis-described many of the items, infringing the Hallmarking Act, The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and the Trade Marks Act.
The investigation by City of Hull Trading Standards also highlighted the need for a better consumer understanding of hallmarking legislation and the organisation has since created a straightforward consumer-focused hallmarking leaflet, which has been very well received by the trade and is now being distributed through many outlets in the local area. As a follow up to the project, City of Hull Trading Standards is also further investigating online jewellery sales.
On presenting the award, Christopher Jewitt, Chairman of the BHC, said: “The British Hallmarking Council is committed to working with the Chartered Institute of Trading Standards and other authorities to enforce our legislation.
We were very pleased with this year’s entries and Hull’s application was excellent. It involved thorough preparation, planning and follow-through and there are clear outcomes that have definitely improved both the enforcement and awareness of hallmarking in their area.”