Assay offices are official governmental establishments who are tasked to assay, or test, the purity of jewelry metals and in some cases, to hallmark the jewelry.Jewelry marks in France date back even earlier, with known examples first seen in the 13th century.
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Stuart holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and philosophy from the University of Toronto.
If you have a piece of ivory in your house -- such as a piece of jewelry or a statue -- you might want to identify its authenticity.
This ensures that the piece is not made of ivory imitations such as plastic or bone. Antique ivory yellows or browns with age unless it has been restored.
Assay Office Mark symbols include an anchor that signifies Birmingham, a castle for Edinburgh, a leopard’s head for London, and a rose for Sheffield.
The date letter stamp, a requirement for British jewelry until 1999, is useful to know if you need to date a piece of vintage or retro jewelry.
Therefore, for sterling silver, look for marks that include “925,” “STERLING,” “STG,” or “STER.” Keep an eye out for metals that are etched with “German Silver” or “Nickel Silver.” These pieces are not made up of any silver at all, but are actually composed of copper, nickel, and zinc.
If jewelry is marked with “Vermeil,” it is a piece of sterling silver topped off with gold plating.
Jewelry engraved with HGE (Heavy Gold Electroplate), GE (Gold Electroplate), or GF (Gold Filled) may appear to be made of gold, but it is actually fashioned from other materials such as copper and contains only a very small amount of gold.