The total number of items hallmarked in March hit 734,41 which was a drop of 17.8% on the previous month. (Getty) The total number of items hallmarked in March hit 734,41 which was a drop of 17.8% on the previous month. (Getty)

Hallmarking dropped 17.8% month on month in the UK in March with the only the lower qualities of platinum, palladium and silver showing growth, while conversely 22ct gold was the only gold weight to show a rise on the previous month’s figures.

The Birmingham Assay Office said that the data, which is compiled using figures from all UK assay offices, reflected “high precious metal prices and the squeeze on consumer spending”.

The total number of items hallmarked in March hit 734,41; a drop of 17.8% on the previous month. Gold accounted for 329,402 of these items, while silver hit 366,469, platinum registered 23,752 and palladium items numbered 1,616; all categories, except palladium which registered a rise of 12.3%, showed a decline with gold down 11.9%, silver down 23.9% and platinum down 2.9%.

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The areas of growth identified by the data were lower grades of precious metals - 800 parts silver showed a rise of 465.9%, 850 parts platinum was up 200%, and 950 parts palladium and 500 parts palladium were up 11.4% and 96.4% respectively.

Gold hallmarking told a different story, however, with the only 22ct gold showing a month-on-month increase. All other purities were down with 14ct gold showing a serious drop of 51.7% while 9ct slipped 14.9% and 18ct fell 6.6%.

The facts and figures: UK hallmarking in March 2012 vs March 2011

Gold
22ct gold 916 – up 20%
18ct gold 750 - down 6.6%
14ct gold 585 - down 51.7%
9ct gold 375 - down 14.9%

Silver
Britannia silver 958 - down 78.6%
Sterling silver 925 - down 24.1%
800 parts silver - up 465.9%

Platinum
999 parts platinum - down 84.7%
950 parts platinum - down 2.7%
900 parts platinum – down 20%
850 parts platinum - up 200%

Palladium
999 parts palladium - down 99.6%
950 parts palladium - up 11.4%
500 parts palladium - up 96.4%