Precious Metal EU Information and Legal Stuff

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All jewellery sold in Europe (within the EU) is regulated for metal content. Even costume jewellery has to comply. 
 

Costume Jewellery


Nickel is used extensively in costume jewellery outside Europe. This metal is to blame for more rashes, blisters and allergic reactions than any other component.
 
EU Nickel Directive (European Union) regulates the use of nickel in any jewellery which comes into contact with the skin of the wearer. You can sell a nickel brooch which is meant to be pinned to clothing, but not nickel earrings. All jewellery sold in this shop complies with the Nickel Directive

What is the Current Legislation?
Current Legislation states that any manufacturer, importer, wholesaler or retailer will be breaking the law if:
They sell jewellery products or clothing fasteners that fail to have a non-nickel coating, unless the rate of nickel release of the parts of product that come in direct contact with the skin does not exceed 0.5µg/cm2/week for at least two years normal use of the item.
They sell a piercing assembly, intended to be inserted in to a pierced part of the body, with a nickel release rate higher than 0.2µg/cm2/week

This essentially means all jewellery worn next to or through the skin, all buttons, zips, watch cases, buckles or studs need to have very little if any nickel content, or have a good plating of another metal.

It is illegal to sell any nickel or part nickel jewellery that falls outside the EU Directive even if the seller tells the customer what is in it. 
For your own safety always insist on Nickel Free. 
 

Precious Metal


Gold most often for sale in the U.K. will be 9ct. This is a % of the gold content. 18ct has double the gold content of 9ct and is used mostly for gem set rings and wedding rings.

9ct  is 37.5% pure gold and is hard wearing. This is most suitable for neckchains and bracelets, also men's jewellery. Because it is cheaper than 18ct it is also the most popular form of gold purchased in the U.K.
18ct is 75% pure gold and is a deeper yellow colour usually. Because it is softer than 9ct, it is used for items which stay put, like rings. It is an excellent foil for the brilliance of gemstones.

Silver sold in the U.K. is usually sterling silver which is 92.5% pure silver. The other 7.5% is usually copper which is added to improve durability. This is the standard hallmarked silver you see in any jewellery shop.
 
 

Hallmarks


In the U.K. we have been looked after by an ancient law regulated by the Assay Office which samples and hallmarks all precious metals over a certain weight.
This weight is approximately 1 gram for gold and 7 grams for silver. An allowance is made for the weight of any stones in the piece.

It is illegal to sell any precious metals (except vintage which might have the hallmark too worn for reading) in the U.K. which are over hallmark weight unless they are hallmarked by the Assay Office. This hallmark consists of a sponsor mark, a metal purity mark, an assay mark and a date letter. The hallmark is usually fixed to the jewellery permanently, (i.e. by being soldered) and is often deeply stamped although the most recent marks are lasered into the metal.
There are currently four Assay Offices in the U.K. Sheffield, Birmingham, London and Edinburgh.
There are many sites on the internet which show examples of hallmarks, but the most accurate information on current law will be found on the Assay Office websites. ( Each Assay Office has it's own website) 

The most common misconception held by the general public seems to be the form the hallmark takes, so study form before you buy and ask awkward questions!
All jewellery sold in this shop complies with current U.K. law.
 
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