Hallmarking and Makers mark
The finishing touches to your unique piece of handmade jewellery created in the Skulls and Orchids workshop will include a hallmark the image above is the makers mark of goldsmith Steve Dennis, which will be stamped on the item you have had made and this will be the first mark, its called the Sponsor’s or Maker’s Mark.
It tells people you who sent an item in to be assayed. Normally this is the person or company who made it, and the mark is composed of their initials inside a shield shape. The Sponsor’s Mark must be a minimum of two letters and a maximum of five letters. Each one is unique, and to make sure that makers with the same initials don’t get mixed up, two different fonts, and 45 different shield shapes are used.
The second and third marks are the Traditional and Millesimal Fineness Marks. The Traditional Fineness Mark tell you which metal an item is made from. The Millesimal Fineness Mark supplies more information, telling you both which precious metal an item is made from and how pure it is on a rating from 0–1000. A 999 mark means that the precious metal is as pure as it can be. The purity mark for each precious metal has a different shaped border, making it easy to tell the difference between metals that share the same colour, like silver and platinum.
The fourth mark tells you which Assay Office tested and hallmarked an item. Today there are four Assay Offices in the UK, and each of them has a different mark. A leopard for the London Assay Office, an anchor for the Birmingham Assay Office, a rose for the Sheffield Assay Office, and a castle for the Edinburgh Assay Office.
The fifth mark is the date letter. This tells you when an item was hallmarked. The date letter changes every year on January 1. The font, case, and shield shape around the letter change once the alphabet has been completed so each letter is unique to a specific year.
2024 date letter
The date letter for 2024 is a lower case z.
A non-compulsory mark, the date letter changes annually on 1 January. The font, case, and shield shape all change so each can only indicate one specific year.
This can be something quite symbolic as it dates when the item was made, for example the year you got married, or to mark a birth year.
Millesimal Fineness Mark
Compulsory mark. This mark tells you how fine, or what quality, the metal is, as well as indicating the metal type. This numerical format was made compulsory in 1999 and shows the precious metal content of the article, expressed in parts per thousand. The assay office mark a piece to the lowest standard of precious metal, so it guarantees that the quality of the whole article is no less than the fineness indicated.
The shape of the surrounding shield indicates metal type.