Hallmarks guarantee quality Aug03
quality of gold, silver and platinum in jewellery shops across Suffolk and
Essex could be under threat if the latest proposed EU Directive to
harmonise the hallmarking of precious metals across Europe is introduced.
gold and silver are soft metals which wear away and lose their shape if
made into jewellery without additives. Therefore, manufacturers of
jewellery alloy gold and silver with copper or other cheaper metals in
order to harden them. This necessary adulteration of precious metals with
cheaper ones provides the dishonest with an opportunity for easy fraud.
Because of these wide possibilities for deception, the need for standards
for precious metals, reinforced by a system of compulsory hallmarking, has
long since been recognised.
more than 700 years, the British hallmarking system has proved to be of
great value in guaranteeing quality of precious metals, like gold and
silver, offering a control standard for the manufacturer and a reference
pricing guide for the retailer.
British hallmark on an article authenticates the quality of the precious
metal purchased, based on an independent assay or analysis. The
manufacturer values the hallmark system as it protects him from unfair
competition from dishonest competitors who will pass off substandard
products at a fraction of the price. Clearly, the hallmark minimises the
risk of prosecution for the retailer and deception for the buyer.
UK has been a signatory to the International Convention on Hallmarking
since 1972, allowing the UK Assay Offices to strike the Convention
Hallmark recognised by member countries e.g. Austria, Denmark, Finland,
Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.
some European countries such as Italy, France, and Germany, do not have an
independently verifiable system of hallmarking that allows their
manufacturers to offer similar guarantees to their jewellery retailers and
buyers. Italy is Europe's largest jewellery manufacturing nation and its
lack of compulsory requirement for hallmarking has contributed to an EU-wide
problem of under-carating and fraudulent products.
this, the Italians, who currently hold the EU presidency, are insisting
that the EU scraps independent assay and hallmarking on the grounds that a
non-harmonised system in Europe distorts the market. This would introduce
an inferior system of hallmarking, thereby forcing the UK to relax and
even abandon its own system. This is unacceptable.
Italian-driven EU Directive on Precious Metals, is a dangerous threat to
consumers and the whole industry. It will allow manufacturers and
importers in Europe to self-certify their jewellery and put it on the
market anywhere in Europe, including the UK, without going through an
independent third-party Assay Office. It will end the UK's Compulsory
Independent Hallmarking. It would be impossible to trace the origin and
reliability of any set of marks and it would deprive the buyer of any
independent guarantee of quality and so diminish his confidence in the
value of all jewellery!