Romantics Advised to do their ‘Hallmark Homework’

With the global price of gold and silver hitting record highs this week, experts from Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, which is responsible for producing an estimated 40% of the UK’s jewellery, are warning shoppers to do their ‘hallmark homework’ if they are planning to propose this Christmas, in order to avoid fakes.

With the Royal wedding expected to inspire more Christmas proposals, Birmingham Assay Office, the world’s largest, has launched a hallmarking campaign to ensure shoppers know what to look for when buying jewellery this Christmas. In the UK last year, over 3000 un-hallmarked articles that purported to be gold, silver or platinum were found not to have the adequate hallmarks by Trading Standards.

Marion Wilson, Sales & Marketing Director at the Birmingham Assay Office advises: “Buying an engagement ring is an extremely romantic experience, but for many consumers it will be one of the more expensive purchases they made and possibly their first experience of buying jewellery. Just as you wouldn’t purchase a car without research, shoppers should make sure they know what they are looking for when choosing the perfect engagement ring. Don’t be afraid to talk to your jeweller and ask questions, they will be pleased to share their expertise.”

However, buyers should not be dissuaded from what Anna Gibson, Marketing Manager for Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, believes should be an exciting experience. With the right advice, shoppers can get some great deals with the opportunity of buying direct from the makers.

“Birmingham is the home of UK jewellery, the Quarter has been established for over 250 years and is home to over 100 specialist jewellery retailers. This means we are able to provide expert advice from jewellers who are often the third or fourth generation in their family to work in the business. Plus, many of the jewellers produce their jewellery on-site, cutting out the middle man and ensuring a piece of affordable luxury for those looking for something special.”

Emma Gray, Director of Marketing Services at Visitbirmingham.com said: “The UK jewellery industry generates over 20% of its annual sales in the six weeks leading up to Christmas with the overall jewellery and watches market worth £4.8 billion in 2010. Birmingham produces an estimated 40% of all jewellery sold in the UK, and is perfectly placed with its acclaimed Jewellery Quarter to provide advice for guidance to shoppers.”

The Birmingham Assay Office Christmas Hallmarking campaign will run over the festive period and will highlight to consumers that when buying fine jewellery this festive season, they should make sure they ask to see the hallmarks, which guarantee the precious metal content, and should always buy gems from reputable jewellers.

Top five tips for buying an engagement ring:

  1. Check the hallmarks on the ring to confirm it is a precious metal – there must be at least THREE different marks to be a full legal UK hallmark
  2. If buying a diamond, the four C’s, clarity, colour, cut and its size (carat weight) are the key factors that influence its value
  3. Don’t be afraid to design your own – often the same price as purchasing one already on sale if purchased from a specialist jeweller.
  4. Try not to be influenced by fashions, the current trend is for ‘whiter’ jewellery, but the ring will be with the bride for life, so make sure it is something she can feel comfortable with for years to come.
  5. Make sure you get the engagement ring added to your household insurance – it can prove a costly item to replace if not documented. Your jeweller should provide you with a valuation certificate.

Buyers – can download a consumer guide to understanding hallmarks at www.theassayoffice.co.uk .

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