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How to stamp a sharp hallmark


#1

Hi all, I have a silly problem that has plagued me for a long while.
I know one of you will be able to help me easily. When I stamp a
hallmark on the back of sheet metal (20-26 gauge) I always get the
shadow or deformation on the front side of the piece, no matter what
the stamping surface is that I use. Can anyone tell me how to avoid
this?

Thank you in advance. Ruth Shapiro www.growingupjewish.com
Trying to dry out in Southern Cal!


#2
 When I stamp a hallmark on the back of sheet metal (20-26 gauge) I
always get the shadow or deformation on the front side of the
piece, no matter what the stamping surface is that I use. Can
anyone tell me how to avoid this? 

Hi Ruth, Here’s a technique that might help you out. Melt some
dopping wax onto a wooden block. Secure your metal to be stamped in
the dopping wax. Make sure you have good contact and support. Wait
until the dopping wax is completely cold, hence hard. Then stamp
your piece. The dopping wax will help minimize the deformation on
the back. This technique is also particularly helpful when stamping
small pieces that need to be held still in position in addition to
avoiding the deformation.

When dealing with very thin gauge metal, don’t try to get a very
deep impression. After all, the stamp is displacing and compressing
metal. You might consider using something like a “microstamp” that
is actually sharp enough to cut a hallmark without applying a lot of
pressure. These markings are not very deep and can be polished out.
Therefore, this type of stamping won’t work if you’re trying to
prestamp your hallmark in your models.

HTH,
Donna Shimazu


#3
I always get the shadow or deformation on the front side of the
piece, no matter what the stamping surface is that I use. 

Don’t hit it as hard? (grin) Actually, some stamp manufacturers
make sharper images than others, and these can need less of a hammer
blow. The ones sold by micromark can be had such that they don’t need
a hammer at all, just hand pressure. The mark is clear, but much
fainter, of course.

The most common cure for the problem is to make it not be so much of
a problem, by doing the stamping as early in the process of
fabricating your piece as you can, so it’s stamped before all the
cleanup and fitting of the mtal takes place. Then dealing with the
shadow isn’t an issue, since you’re gonna have to finish that surface
in any case. In some cases, stamping the metal is one of the first
things I do, often before soldering the stamped piece of metal to
the rest of the assembly.

Another cure that works is redesigning, slightly, the piece so that
the stamp won’t be in a visible area, or is on it’s own seperate
piece of metal. Sometimes one makes little tags of metal by cutting
out a stamped impression, and then soldering this little tag, with
your stamps thereon, to the rest of the work. In a number of the
pieces we make at work, I stamp the needed quality and trademark
stamps on blank bit of sheet metal. It’s cool since I can try
several times if I don’t get the depth of impression, or spacing of
the several marks, just how I want them. Then the sheet metal goes
into a circle cutter (I use one of the Roper Whitney circle punches,
or the common Taiwan knock offs of that punch (harbor freight sells
them). The pointy dimples in the middle of the male punches get
sanded off, so the punch produces flat undimpled little circles. I
can see down into the hollow female die to see just where the stamped
images are positioned, in order to get the circle cut just right. The
squeeze the handles of the punch, and voila, you’ve got neat little
quality tags ready to be soldered to the work. Makes a kinda
decorative little element. Often I work that circle into the
structure of the piece, such as part of the base of a pendant head, or
the back surface of an earring clip, or the like.

Peter


#4

Ruth, That is a common problem. Best is to stamp it before finishing
your item, so you can sand the contra imprint away.


#5

Hi Ruth, I have in the past made a small tag with the karat and
hallmark and then soldered it on the back. I can’t think of anyway
to stamp the sheet without getting a distortion on the reverse side.
Hope this helps, Janine


#6

Hi Ruth, Using a punch to impresshallmarks will always leave a mark
on the other side of the metal which is why it is usually recommended
that you have a piece hallmarked at a fairly early stage of
production when the damage can still be made good before final
finishing. Marking this way has the benefit that the hallmark will
always be discernable as the punching changes the metal structure and
so can be discovered even if the surface of the netal is worn
completely away.

You can now have pieces ‘Laser Marked’ (at least you can at the
Sheffield Assay Office) where the hallmark is simply burnt into the
sirface of the metal with a laser. I had some antique silver cutlery
marked this way recently for a customer. You do have to supply the
assay office with a drawing of your ‘Sponsor’s Mark’ which they
incorporate into the hallmark for you. To my mind, this method is not
as good as punch marking as it is only a surface mark but it does
have the advantage of not distorting the metal at all and can be
applied to hollow, cast or shaped pieces more easily than the puch
method which would require the making of a special stake to support
the piece during marking (which you could be required to supply. As
you don’t have a centralised quality control system over there like
ours, I don’t know whether this technique would be appropriate but I
suspect it would be acceptable and that you could probably find a
laser cutting company who would be prepared to turn down the power of
their laser to do the necessary.

Best wishes, Ian

p.s thanks to those who have answered my query on ElectroForming -
yes you are right, I had the terminology wrong but you knew what I
meant! Ian W. Wright Sheffield, UK


#7

The best way to totally avoid imprinting the back is to laser your
identity mark. A company that performs that function is American
Assay & Gemological Co. 1-800-917-7558, and ask for Nick Savarese.
Good luck ! Steve Burns


#8
    Ruth, That is a common problem. Best is to stamp it before
finishing your item, so you can sand the contra imprint away. 

Ruth,I recently made some 20 gauge ster. silver items that were flat
and stamped them on a steel block with a piece of thin paper. There
was a blemish, but no damage. Then I used 400 grit emery paper, and
polished to high shine…this should work!


#9

Ruth, I don’t know if this is practical for you, as I haven’t a clue
what type of work you are doing, but I have a clever friend who
hallmarks a separate sheet of metal, then cuts out a little piece
with the hallmark on it from this sheet, and solders it to her piece
near the end of construction. Solves the dent problem, and it looks
really sharp. Danny


#10
    I have a clever friend who hallmarks a separate sheet of
metal, then cuts out a little piece with the hallmark on it from
this sheet, and solders it to her piece near the end of
construction. Solves the dent problem, and it looks really sharp. 

Just a reminder that within the European Union countries this
procedure is not legal, as hallmarking has to be done by an assay
office, after testing. In countries where artists are allowed to
mark their own wares then it does seem like a good idea, though might
it not look a bit, well, cheap?

Kevin (NW England, UK)


#11

Dear Kewin in NW England, UK

           Just a reminder that within the European Union
countries this procedure is not legal, as hallmarking has to be
done by an assay office, after testing.  In countries where artists
are allowed to mark their own wares then it does seem like a good
idea, though might it not look a bit, well, cheap? 

I have to step in on this one here. I know that how you describe the
hallmarking is how it is done in the UK, but at least here in
Denmark - and also in Sweden as far as I know - the rules is somewhat
different. And both Sweden and Denmark are members of the EU. Here in
Denmark you have to register your personal/company mark at the Danish
Assaying Office (Force Instituttet). Any piece of noble metal then
has to be stamped with its content of gold or silver AND the makers
personal mark. The Assaying office then takes out samples at random,
both at your bench and in retail shops, and and poor you, if you
are cheating. One is allowed to use silver solder with a lower
content of silver, whereas the various gold solders must conform to
the carat! (Therefore the various advises about using 14 kt gold as
solder for 18 kt pieces etc. that we have seen here on the forum are
of no great use to us here in Denmark). And BTW you are not allowed
to sell anything as silver or gold that is not stamped with your
registered makers mark AND the carat. But let us hear about how the
rules and laws are in other countries. Kind regards Niels from
Bornholm in Denmark where the spring is just around the corner


#12
 Therefore the various advises about using 14 kt gold as solder
for 18 kt pieces etc. that we have seen here on the forum are of no
great use to us here in Denmark. 

Hello Niels,

Thanks for the insight on how things work in Scandinavia! I found it
to be very interesting!

I want to be sure I didn’t give you a misperception about when I use
22k bezel and 14k sheet, as I mentioned recently. I mark the piece as
14k, as it is the lowest karat component in the piece. I certainly
make the customer aware of the fact that the bezel is 22k, and
explain why I use two different grades of gold in the piece… part
of educating the customer about the difference between handcrafted
work and mass produced jewelry. I also document the two different
karats in the sales receipt. Of course, if the piece were melted
down, the karatage (?) would assay to be greater than 14k, but I want
to remain within the legal marking guidelines.

I have, in the past, marked a piece with both an 18k and 14k stamp
when I used both metals, but I have been rethinking this practice, as
a result of Orchid dialogue. I don’t know that our guidelines in the
U.S. support multiple karat stamps, even if it doesn’t specifically
address it. Which also brings up the question about mixed metal
pieces, such as sterling and 14k. Can one mark both metals, as there
would obviously not be any attempt deception as to which is which?
Hmmm…

All the best,

Dave

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#13
 Which also brings up the question about mixed metal pieces, such
as sterling and 14k. Can one mark both metals, as there would
obviously not be any attempt deception as to which is which? 

This is a difficult situation. Over here in the UK, unless the two
metals are separated physically - like a gold lid on a silver box,
the piece would have to be hallmarked with the stamp of the
predominant metal. Where the decorative items of a different metal
could be removed such as a gold plaque in a bezel setting, it could
have its own gold hallmark but, if it was soldered onto the other
metal or part of a mixed metals casting, only one hallmark would be
acceptable and I’m fairly sure that this would have to be that of the
least expensive metal. As to the question of deception, is it not
possible that someone might try to pass a silver item off as white
gold or platinum?

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield, UK


#14
 I have to step in on this one here. I know that how you describe
the hallmarking is how it is done in the UK, but at least here in
Denmark - and also in Sweden as far as I know - the rules is
somewhat different. 

Hi Niels, thanks for expanding on the hallmarking regulations in your
part of the world. Really though I believe we are in agreement as
far as the original question was concerned. That is, it is not
permitted to stamp a separate piece of metal and then solder that to
the finished item, but rather the item itself has to be marked.

Kevin (NW England, UK)


#15
 I have, in the past, marked a piece with both an 18k and 14k
stamp when I used both metals, but I have been rethinking this
practice, as a result of Orchid dialogue. I don't know that our
guidelines in the U.S. support multiple karat stamps, even if it
doesn't *specifically* address it. Which also brings up the
question about mixed metal pieces, such as sterling and 14k. Can
one mark both metals, as there would obviously not be any attempt
deception as to which is which? Hmmm....

Dave, Your rhetorical question also brings up a question about
marking sterling. Many people, myself included, use fine silver for
bezels. So, do I also mark .999 in addition to sterling, like I used
to do with my 14k/22k pieces? After pondering this for awhile, I
recently stopped marking anything other than my own hallmark. Like a
true, smug artist, “my mark is all that matters” (put your nose in
the air and say this with a haughty voice). In all seriousness, I’d
love to hear the Orchid community’s comments on dropping quality
marks altogether.

Bill


#16

Dear Dave

       ...I want to be sure I didn't give you a misperception
about when I use 22k bezel and 14k sheet, as I mentioned recently.
I mark the piece as 14k, as it is the lowest karat component in the
piece.... 

I have always enjoyed and adored your posts to this forum and I am
sorry if you felt that I questioned your or anybody else’s honesty or
integrity in this matter. That was absolutely not my intention. I
merely referred to various advices previously given in this forum
about for instance using 14 kt gold as a solder for 18 kt pieces as
this is not legal here. We stamp 18 kt with ‘750’ and that means that
no part of the piece is allowed to have a lower content of gold than
750/1000, so using low karat solder is not possible. Indeed you can
use say a 22 kt bezel on a 18 kt piece as long as you - as you so
rightly point out - only stamp it with 750

       I have, in the past, marked a piece with both an 18k and
14k stamp when I used both metals, but I have been rethinking this
practice, as a result of Orchid dialogue. I don't know that our
guidelines in the U.S. support multiple karat stamps, even if it
doesn't *specifically* address it. Which also brings up the question
about mixed metal pieces, such as sterling and 14k. Can one mark
both metals, as there would obviously not be any attempt deception
as to which is which? Hmmm.... 

Stamping mixed metals is always a difficult item. The legislation
here in Denmark allow us to use two (or more) stamps on mixed metal
pieces, but only if the difference in material is quite distinctive.
I.e. one can stamp a piece with sterling and 18 kt yellow gold with
’925’ and ‘750’ respectively (stamps must be placed on respective
metals) , but I am not sure about a piece of mixed sterling and white
gold - but BTW who would create such a piece? Hmmm… Greetings from
Bornholm, Denmark, where the weather is behaving like spring Niels


#17
  I am sorry if you felt that I questioned your or anybody else's
honesty or integrity in this matter. 

Not at all, Niels! Thanks for the kinds words, and I enjoy your
insight, as well! :wink:

I didn’t really think you were talking specifically about what I had
written, but in reflecting on your comments, I felt there was an
opportunity to clarify my handling of a quality mark in that context.
When I mentioned something along the lines of “attempt to deceive”,
it was just a litmus test I apply when marking.

As someone else recently mentioned, the marking standards here in
the U.S. are intended as a consumer protection, not a metallurgical
recipe. If something is quality marked in a way that is intended to
deceive the consumer, you are doing something illegal. If your
marking isn’t “by the book”, but it is obvious your intention wasn’t
to deceive, then you’re not likely to be scolded too harshly. This is
the logic I try to use to figure out how to mark multi-metal pieces.
“Will this marking be clear and make sense to a reasonably
intelligent person?”

Along the lines of the “attempt to deceive” litmus test, there is a
popular misconception here about the legality of defacing U.S.
currency. Some believe it is illegal, period. It is only illegal if
it is done in an attempt to deceive. For example, changing a $1 into
a $100 bill, or altering a common coin to appear as a rare coin to
profit from it’s sale to a collector. That being understood, it is
legal to take a silver dollar and pierce it with a drill and
jeweler’s saw, and sell it as art at many times it’s face value… as
long as you are not misrepresenting what the original coin was.

All the best,
Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com