Hallmarks and stamps on gold, silver & platinum jewelry

Hallmark 585, own picture

Hallmarking in jewelry is a stamp that gives information about the fineness of the precious metal from which the piece was made.

Actually, all patterns and shapes that are stamped into metals or leather can be described as hallmarking. Strictly speaking, ornaments and decorations that are applied with a punch and a hallmarking iron are also hallmarks.

The stamped numerical value of gold and silver hallmarks shows the fineness of the precious metal alloy. In addition to the fineness stamp, jewelry often also bears hallmarks that provide information about the producer, the model number, or inspection points (repunzes, official hallmarks, or control hallmarks).

What does the hallmark on my jewelry mean?

The higher the stamped numerical value on the jewelry, the greater the percentage of gold, silver or platinum.

Today, it is common to specify the fineness in thousand parts. The indication in carat (for gold) and lot (for silver) is rather uncommon today. Gold jewelry in Germany, Austria and Switzerland is usually made of 14-karat gold, and therefore has the hallmark 585 stamped on it.

Common hallmarks on gold jewelry:

750 / 18K Gold alloy with a fineness of 750 thousand parts
585 / 14K Gold alloy with a fineness of 585 thousand parts

Jewelry made of gold alloys below 585/1000 may not be sold as gold jewelry in Austria. Nevertheless, stamping can often be found on such jewelry:

375 / 9K Alloy with a gold content of 375 thousand parts
333 / 8 K Alloy with a gold content of 333 thousand parts
AM Double/ AM /P. L. "American Double" / "Plated": Jewelry that is only gold plated with 10/1000 gold (1%).

Common hallmarks in silver jewelry:

925 "Sterling silver" alloy with fineness of 925 thousand parts
835 "Crown silver" alloy with a fineness of 835 thousand parts.
800 Silver alloy with a fineness of 800 thousand parts

Common hallmarks for platinum alloy:

950 Platinum alloy with a fineness of 950 thousand parts
750 Platinum alloy with a fineness of 750 thousand parts


Where to find the gold content stamp?

Hallmarking on jewelry made of gold and silver is found in inconspicuous places.

Gold 18 carat hallmark
18K fineness stamp © own image

On bangles and rings made of gold, platinum or silver, the hallmark is usually found on the inside of the ring. On pendants or earrings, the hallmark is usually on the back, and on gold chains and silver chains, the hallmark is found on the clasp or the last link of the chain.

On watches, hallmarks are usually found on the back of the case or on the inside of the cover for pocket watches.

Hallmarking - State regulated

In many states, there are legal regulations regarding which hallmarks must be applied to precious metal items.

In Austria, there is the Hallmarking Act here, which states that precious metal items manufactured or sold in Austria must bear a hallmark of fineness with an indication in parts per thousand in a clearly visible and easily recognizable manner. The hallmarking law is valid for all items made of gold alloys with a fineness of 585/1000 or higher, items made of platinum with a fineness of 950/1000 or higher, and items made of silver with a fineness of 800/1000.

In Germany, there is no law that prescribes hallmarking at all. Also, anyone is allowed to stamp a hallmark in Germany. However, if a hallmark is applied, the fineness must be indicated in thousand parts and must of course be true.

False hallmarks

A hallmark on a piece of jewelry is a good indication of the alloy of the piece. Unfortunately, because the price of gold has risen so significantly in recent years, hallmarks are also being counterfeited more and more often.

Cheap jewelry made of gold-plated brass is stamped with a fake stamp by fraudsters and then passed off as high-quality gold jewelry.

This fake gold is then brought to the people as the notorious "highway gold": The fraudsters feign a supposed emergency situation ("No money for further travel") and offer unsuspecting citizens the supposed gold ring at a bargain price. Attempts are also sometimes made to sell falsely hallmarked jewelry at flea markets.

Therefore, every reputable precious metal dealer and jeweler will carefully examine each piece when buying gold and, if necessary, also subject pieces with the corresponding hallmark to a line test (acid test).

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