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Home / Discovering the gold hallmarks

Discovering the gold hallmarks

These small marks filled with mystery and magic are often illegible to the naked eye. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect them! The punches have a real role regulated by the customs service and the Monnaie de Paris. This is the official seal affixed to precious metal objects: gold, silver and platinum. They are therefore essential on gold jewelry. This article aims to demystify these engravings and to bring you some explanations.

Gold hallmarks: A little history

This means of guarantee appeared as early as the 13th century to certify the titling of works of goldsmithery and has evolved over the centuries. The modern hallmarks, as they are used today, date back to 1838 and concern all works of watchmaking, goldsmithing, jewelry and jewelry.

Each work in gold, silver or platinum must be marked with 2 hallmarks:

– of the manufacturer, or of the importer, the responsibility mark.

– and that of the title of the work, known as title mark or of guarantee.

In some rare cases, the hallmark can also be a serial number ensuring traceability in case of theft but this applies more to jewelry and watches of very high end.

Please note that a hallmark can also be applied to an object containing a very small amount of metal or even a single layer of precious metal of a few microns (a micron represents a thousandth of a millimeter). You can find hallmarks on gold-plated jewelry but also on silverware.

The official hallmarks are only for precious metals. And as our raw material at Noir Carat is gold, we will focus on this material. Here are some explanations on the different punches:

– Seahorse : 999 ‰ (24 carats)
– Framed eagle head: 916 ‰ (22 carats)
– Eagle head: 750 ‰ (18 carats)
– Scallop : 585 ‰ (14 carats)
– Clover: 375 ‰ (9 carats)

Need a refresher on carats and their meaning? Noir Carat comes back on the differences between Gold, Vermeil, Plated etc. in this article which will answer all your questions.

You will find these different hallmarks and their explanations in the official table of guarantee of precious metals.

gold punches explanations

The Theory VS. The Reality

However, the reality is not the same as the one imagined. Indeed, many jewels are not marked with a hallmark and this for 2 main reasons.

The first is related to the law. As you know, we are in France, so there are…exceptions (and yes!). Thus some jewels are exempted from the guarantee hallmarks. This concerns jewelry weighing less than 3 grams, those prior to 1838 and those that cannot bear the imprint of the hallmarks without deterioration (rings for example).

The second one is a natural reason, it is the most common and concerns mainly the rings. Indeed, since the punch is generally located on the inside of the ring, the engraving is in direct contact with the skin, but also with heat, humidity and sweat. Therefore, this greatly increases the chances of the stamp fading or even disappearing over time.

In this context and in order to guarantee the authenticity of our antique jewelry, Noir Carat accompanies every purchase with a certificate of authenticity validated by an expert. This attests to the value and authenticity of the jewel and testifies to the quality of the metal (e.g. 18 carat gold 750/1000) and the stone that make up the jewel.

Find out more about our commitments and our certification.

We hope this article was useful to you, feel free to leave a comment or contact us if you have any questions!

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