Hallmarking involves the independent testing and marking of articles of precious metal to indicate they conform to legal standards of purity (fineness). These tests are carried out in the UK by assay offices in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh.
The hallmarking act 1973 makes it an offence for anyone in the course of business to sell or describe a precious metal article as gold, silver or platinum unless it is hallmarked, subject to certain exemptions including articles below statutorily prescribed weights. The act is enforced by local trading standards departments. It was amended in January 1999 to bring it into line with European law.
The UK is a member of the convention on the control and marking of articles of precious metals (hallmarking convention), which facilitates the cross border trade of independently marked precious metal articles. The UK recognises the convention common control mark (CCM) applied in member countries, which means that goods marked with the CCM can be imported and sold in the UK without the need for additional UK hallmarking.
The UK also recognises independent hallmarks struck in EU member states to equivalent UK standards in line with the European court of justice houtwipper judgement.
In January 2012 NMO consulted on proposals to amend the Hallmarking Act 1973 so as to enable offshore hallmarking by the UK Assay Offices. The consultation ended on 2 April 2012 and we are in the process of preparing the Government response to the consultation.
Hallmarking – Legislative Reform Order
On 8th February a Legislative Reform Order (The Legislative Reform (Hallmarking) Order 2013 (SI 2013/251)) came into force which provides the four UK Assay Offices (which test and hallmark precious metal articles, such as jewellery) with the opportunity to set up hallmarking operations outside the territory of the UK. The Order amends the Hallmarking Act 1973 which had previously permitted the Assay offices to test and hallmark goods only within the UK.
The change to the law comes in response to pressure primarily from the Assay Offices which have been unable to compete on level terms with those EEA competitors whose law imposes no geographical limits on their hallmarking operations. From now on they are free to hallmark in overseas locations with any decision on the setting up of overseas operations being a matter for the commercial judgement of individual Assay Offices. One Assay Office already has plans to set up an operation overseas.
Download the offshore hallmarking impact assessment (DOCX, 94 Kb) .