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Hallmarks in the USA and in Ireland


#1

Dear All, I hope to find some about hallmarking in the
USA and in Ireland (or in the UK, as I think that the system is very
much the same in both countries).

I buy my casting grain over here in the USA at the moment. I am
largely ignorant about these matters, but, for what concerns the USA,
there seems to exist a toleration so that if your gold is very
slightly less (but how much less?) than (say) 14K, it can still be
hallmarked as 14K without potentially looking for all sorts of
troubles. However, I do not think - but might be wrong - that any
such toleration is tolerated in Ireland: the gold has to be 14K and
nothing less or otherwise the Assay Office will not hallmark it. The
reason why I ask this is that Mr. Dan Grandi tested a piece of gold
from me and it turns out that the carating is just a bit too low.
Since I have the plan of selling my work in Ireland, I could get in
trouble. Could anyone give some about how things work in
Ireland? Do independent jewelers (jewellers in Eire) send their work
to the Assay Office? How long does it take to get the pieces
hallmarked? Do the jewellers stamp the pieces with their name/symbol
themselves or does the Assay Office take care of this too? What is
the cost of hallmarking the pieces? Any would be greatly
appreciated. Thank you for reading. Best, Will


#2

Dear Will,

Hallmarking is very tightly regulated in Ireland (like in several
other European countries).

The Hallmarking Act of 1980 is what you would like a copy of.

If you don’t get the from fellow orhidians here, you
might consider contacting the assay office in Dublin for full

Dublin Assay Office
Dublin Castle
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel.+353 1 4751286 / 4780323
Fax +353 1 4783838

Since I am The Netherlands, I don’t know the exact detail. Maybe the
following two links may get you started:
http://www.bryandouglas.co.uk/control/about_silver.htm

http://www.lkshields.ie/Publications/documents/articles/pub065.pdf
(page 5)

Good luck.
Alain


#3

Hi Will,

To answer your question on the tolerance , there is none, if the
item comes in at anything below the carat you specify, the Assay
Office will destroy it!!! They will break it up and send you back the
bits, you have no come back on this, I know of one jeweller who had a
piece tested and because one of the solder joints had a lower carat
value it was returned to him in little bits, he lost in the courts as
the practice was deemed to have been legal under common law. So don’t
cut corners on the carat.

What is accepted is the following,
Gold , 375, 417, 585, 750, 833, 916, 990 and 999 .
Silver 800, 925, 958.4 and 999.
Platinum 850, 900, 950 and 999.
Do independent jewellers (jewellers in Eire) send their work  to
the Assay Office? 

Yes they do . Their address is The Assay Office, Dublin Castle,
Dublin 2. There phone number is +35314751286, and their email is
hallmark@assay.ie

How long does it take to get the pieces hallmarked? 

All depends on how busy they are, but usually 5 to 10 days
turnaround.

Do the jewellers stamp the pieces with their name/symbol themselves
or does the Assay Office take care of this too?

You can stamp your sponsor’s mark yourself, but your mark has to be
registered with the Assay Office first, there is a charge and
registration lasts 10 years. if you are going to do large pieces you
may have to get a second larger “plate” punch which would also have
to be registered with them. They can hold on to your punch if you wish
and stamp your mark at the same time as they are stamping the
fineness mark, but for this there is an extra charge.

What is the cost of hallmarking the pieces? 

The cost varies depending on the item, but from memory I think a
ring costs E0.57 each, remember that earrings require 2 hallmarks
(one on each) . There is also a minimum charge per carat of E11.15.

The Assay Office in Ireland has been around since 1637. Some people
love them ( keeps the standards up) some hate them ( just another
form of taxation ). Every jeweller you talk to will have their own
story regarding their relationship with the Assay office, ranging
from how they rushed through a parcel so they would be ready for a
show, to, how the struck the mark so hard it nearly came through the
other side. Me, I’m somewhere in the middle, but one thing is for
sure, you have to deal with them. Legally it is an offence to sell an
item of gold, silver or platinum that hasn’t been stamped by the
assay office, all imported items, even those marked in another
country, must still be marked in the Irish Assay Office. The only
exceptions are items from within the E.U. that carry a Convention
Hallmark.

Hope this helps,
Neil KilBane,
Longford,
Ireland.


#4

As a rider to my other post on hallmarking in the UK and Ireland,
prompted by another discussion on the board on soldering, I forgot to
mention that the carat value or silver content of the solders used is
also tested over here must also conform to the minimum assay value.
The scrapings for assay are usually taken from an area where some of
the solder is included or, in the case of chain, a link or two is
taken and assayed including the solder. If the whole sample, metal
and solder combined, doesn’t meet the standard being applied for,
the piece will be rejected and defaced.

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#5

Will, In the UK and in Ireland, pieces which do not meet or exceed
the gold or silver standard being applied for will not be hallmarked.
Not only that, but the Assay Offices have the right to destroy any
pieces submitted which do not meet the standard claimed for them. In
practice, this right is not often applied and goods are usually
returned to the person submitting them to be remade but they may be
defaced so that you can’t just sell them anyway. I had one piece
fail assay as 18ct gold and, as the piece was important to me and
represented a lot of work, the Assay Master (who is a personal
aquaintance) rang me and asked if I would like the piece marking as
14ct instead but this is a rare occurrence. It is only be being
absolutely rigorous in applying the assay that people can be assured
that British precious metal jewellery is what it says it is and
represents true value for money.

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK


#6

Hi Neil, Thank you very much for answering my questions. I am really
grateful.

I know about the ongoing (since 1683 :-)) discussion about the Alloy
Office in Ireland. But, at least, the system is very clear. There are
no tolerances. The manufacturers of precious metals know this too and
will not undercarat since it makes no sense. It is not so clear here
in the US. I bought K14 gold recently, but it is isn’t 14K. No
problem. I could still sell the pieces over here, because of the
toleration. But that isn’t my intention. I had the plan of selling my
pieces in Ireland. This has become impossible now. Personally, I have
nothing to do with these tolerances and I think that it is a fraud,
although a legal one. When I buy 14 K I expect it to be 14K, devoided
of all the American metaphysics concerning tolerations. The only
thing I can do is to make molds of the pieces and to cast them again.
I’m pretty sure that the shanks and other materials you can buy as
K14 are not K14 either but a tiny bit below it. Very dumb.

I’ll be in Ireland in two weeks from now. If you spot a suspect
looking Belgian in your store it might be me :-).

Thank you again, and with best regards, Will


#7

Dear Will, If you are in Belgium, why not buy your gold sheets and
findings in Amsterdam. We have the same strict rules as in Ireland and
no undercarating is allowed.

A good address is:

Schne Edelmetaal BV
Rokin 81 1012KL Amsterdam
tel.: +31 20 6270026

Regards
Alain