Palladium is bright, white, tarnish resistant and much less dense than other platinum group metals. Widely used in industry, it has now been officially recognized as a precious metal for fine jewellery, with the introduction of a compulsory UK hallmark from 1st January 2010. Many jewellers are experimenting with Palladium, which has had a voluntary legally recognised UK hallmark since July 2009. From January 1, 2010 this is a legal requirement for all articles weighing over 1 gram.
Palladium was introduced to the jewellery market back in the 1930’s and the 1950’s but never caught on. Now it has the credibility of an independent UK hallmark guaranteeing its fineness to an international standard, most commonly 950 parts per thousand, Palladium is gaining significant attention. Over 40,000 pieces have been voluntarily hallmarked in the last six months, demonstrating the potential popularity of this newly recognised precious metal. At a time when the white metal look is very popular and gold prices are at a record high, Palladium meets current trends and opens up huge opportunities to create inexpensive but innovative pieces.
Palladium joins gold, silver and platinum as the fourth recognized precious metal. This means articles cannot be sold in the UK without a statutory hallmark, applied by one of the four independent UK Assay Offices after testing to ensure the precious metal content meets a recognized standard. Articles can be marked as containing a minimum of either 500, 950 or 999 parts per thousand of Palladium. The UK hallmark protects the consumer from dishonest traders and jewellers from unfair competition.
Under the Hallmarking Act 1973, every person ‘dealing’ in precious metal is legally required to display the statutory Dealers Notice and this has now been redesigned to include Palladium. The new version is available as a free download from any of the Assay Office websites, and high quality printed versions are also available. Dealers have twelve months to change to the new Notice, which becomes compulsory from 1st January 2011.
The new Notice features strongly an image of a hallmark including the three compulsory symbols. In recognition of the regional and national bias of some jewellery and precious metal articles and retailers, which is integral to their branding, the new Notice will appear in four different versions, according to whether a mark from Birmingham, Edinburgh, London or Sheffield is deemed more appropriate.