One of the earliest forms of customer protection, a hallmark certifies the amount of silver, gold or platinum in any alloy. All jewellery is made of an alloy of one of these precious metals with another metal. Hallmarking is carried out in much the same way as it has been for 230 years although the process is assisted by the latest technology such as X-Ray Florescence testing and laser marking.
Why an anchor?
Ever wondered why the hallmark of the Birmingham Assay Office is an anchor? The story goes that when Matthew Boulton was in London lobbying Parliament, he stayed at the Crown & Anchor Tavern in the Strand, a popular haunt for politicians. Legend has it that with the toss of a coin, land-locked Birmingham won the anchor as its hallmarking symbol, whilst Sheffield took the crown (subsequently changed to the rose).
- Founded in 1773 The Birmingham Assay Office is the largest in the world
- Twelve million articles of gold, silver or platinum are tested every year
- Hallmarking of precious metals is a legal requirement in the UK
- 18ct gold is 75% fine gold hence the 750 in the hallmark
- The Birmingham Assay Office has only had 12 Assay Masters in 233 years, the longest serving being an employee for 68 years