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What is the hallmark of gold, silver or platinum?

What is the hallmark of gold, silver or platinum?

Are you wondering the importance of these mentions "eagle's head hallmark" "owl hallmark" in the description of the jewels? Here are some useful indications to appreciate the quality of a second-hand jewel and its history thanks to the information they convey.

What hallmarks do we see on second-hand jewelry?

A punch is a small mark engraved or struck in the metal by a tool which bears the same name which composes an object. The hallmarks are often found in the same places, on the clasps for bracelets, on the outside of the ring of a ring, and on the links for necklaces. They are not always very visible to the naked eye but are important because each piece in gold, silver, or platinum must be marked with two hallmarks, that of the craftsman called master goldsmith's hallmark and that of the title of the work called punch of title or guarantee. 

The fineness stamp is a guarantee of the precious metal content in the alloy, most often expressed in thousandths and thus “guarantees” the quality of the precious metal to the consumer. “If the principle of affixing hallmarks to goldsmith's works dates back to the 1797th century, the guarantee legislation in its current form and the affixing of official State hallmarks dates from the end of the XNUMXth century (XNUMX) and has continued to evolve ever since.” (source customs.gouv.fr) It can thus indicate the origin of an object from a geographical and temporal point of view.

The trademark of the craftsman who made the object and also the serial number in the case of a luxury brand are also useful elements for identifying the jewel. 

Jewelery intended to be marketed in France must bear these hallmarks, according to French law which has its own hallmarks through the guarantee offices which affix them to the pieces. There are, however, exceptions allowed: for example jewelry created before 1838, having a weight below 3 g for gold, or those which do not support the mark of the hallmark without undergoing deterioration and can be exempted from this Mark. 

The hallmark can also disappear on vintage jewellery, by dint of being worn it can fade when the mark is in contact with the skin for example, or even everyday gestures can damage it.

How to recognize hallmarks?

The maker's mark in the shape of a diamond completed by his initials, if it is oval in shape, it is a work imported from abroad.
The fineness hallmark can take different forms depending on the number of carats and the purity of the precious metal. Each precious metal has different hallmark tables.

For gold there are 5 different hallmarks, 

  • The most common 18-carat gold, i.e. 750 thousandths: Eagle's head alone 

  • 22-carat gold, i.e. 916 thousandths: Eagle's head in profile with the number 1 under the beak 

  • The most precious 24 carat gold 999 thousandths that only the Paris office can guarantee and can affix: Seahorse in profile 

  • 14 carats or 585 thousandths: Scallop shell

  • The lowest grade: 9 carats or 375 thousandths: Clover


For silver there are 3 different hallmarks, 

  • The most common is the 925 thousandths 92%: Head of Minerva surrounded by the number 1 and the letter 

  • Another rather common hallmark the 925 thousandths 80%: Head of Minerva surrounded by the number 2

  • The third used when the origin is uncertain or unknown or when it is 800 thousandths is the: Cygne de profil 


For platinum, there are 3 different hallmarks,

  • The purest platinum at 99,9%: Penguin's head

  • The second pure from 95 to 85%: Dog's head 

  • The platinum hallmark less than 85% pure: Head of Mascaron 


For certain second-hand jewelery of foreign or uncertain origin:

  • in gold, at least 750 thousandths: the owl

  • in silver at least, 800 thousandths: the swan


There are additional subtleties about these hallmarks, but most of the cases present on the jewels of our selections are mentioned!


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