The 925 stamp is NOT a hallmark!!

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I constantly receive e-mails from EBay buyers who are being told by sellers that a solitary 925 stamped on a piece of metal proves the item is made of sterling silver (92.5% silver content) and along with my other two guides on hallmarking, buyers are being confused by misinformation.

The problem is that EBay sellers, even UK sellers, are stating that a "925" mark on an item denotes / proves / provides assurity that the item being sold is sterling silver. And then there are sellers stating the "925" stamp is a "Hallmark".

A lone 925 stamp on a piece of metal means absolutely nothing!

The reason the mark means nothing is that the hand punches that will dutifully stamp "925" when whacked with a hammer against a piece of white metal can be bought as easily as a tea bag! It is also well known that many unscrupulous companies from the Far East will place a 925 stamp on silver plated items.

The ONLY time the 925 mark has any legal standing is where it forms part of a set of three marks applied by an Assay Office. (This is legally definded as a "Hallmark" in UK law). Three marks, first the mark of the Assay Office that tested the content of the piece they stamped, the second a 925 finess mark definining how many parts of silver and then thirdly a makers mark that denotes the maker of the piece.

A lone 925 stamp on a piece of metal means absolutely nothing!

On a USA piece of sterling silver there will be a makers mark, a 925 finess mark and usually a copyright mark. This is known in the USA as a convention hallmark. Companies placing their makers mark alongside the 925 mark are assuring the content of silver in accordance with USA laws.  However it is NOT a UK Hallmark and under European Law UK sellers can NOT describe a USA convention hallmark as a "Hallmark".

EBay sellers are leading the public into thinking a piece of sterling silver marked "925" is genuine sterling silver. Whilst the piece maybe genuine sterling silver, this is NOT assured in any form by the presence of a solitary 925 mark.

Because British manufacturers (and European Manufacturers who are also governed by Hallmarking Laws) know the 925 has no legal standing whatsoever, many do not mark pieces of sterling silver under 7.78 grams with solitary 925 punch stamped marks. An unmarked piece of  British or European made sterling silver, that is under 7.78 grams, is actually more likely to be made of sterling silver than an imported piece with a solitary 925 stamp. Only items made within Europe and the UK are governed by strict Hallmarking laws where an independant body, the Assay Office, govern the sale of precious metal items.

There is no legally required mark for sterling silver in the UK and Europe, where the piece is under 7.78 grams in weight. The current Hallmarking laws rely on trust for items of sterling silver under 7.78 grams.

Know your seller. Read their feedback. Ask questions. Read the Assay Office web site regarding Hallmarking. Look for the Assay Office Dealers Notice. All sellers of precious metal are required by law to display an Assay Office Dealers Notice, be they a High Street store or a web site.

If you are being told a solitary 925 mark stamped into a piece of white metal is a Hallmark, then avoid as equally as you would avoid a mouldy teabag!  A jeweller of standing will never tell you a solitary 925 mark is a Hallmark.

If you are reading this guide having purchased an item described as sterling silver, weighing over 7.78 grams and carrying no Assay Office or EU equivalent hallmark then the following maybe of assistance:
Tel 03454 04 05 06 open Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (excluding public holidays)
Textphone: 18001 03454 04 05 06. The Citizens Advice Consumer Service works closely with trading standards and all information they receive is passed to trading standards departments for further action or intelligence purposes.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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