In depth: Ireland’s compulsory dealers’ notice

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Find out more about the hallmarking legislation changes in Ireland.

July 1 marked the arrival of changes to hallmarking legislation in the Republic of Ireland that now means all Irish retailers supplying articles of precious metal must display a Dealers’ Notice of no smaller than A4 size in their stores to avoid the risk of fines or prosecution.

The changes are also said to have bolstered inquiries about hallmarking of objects in the UK, something the Edinburgh Assay Office (EAO) experienced last month. It announced that it had received a jump in the number of UK customers asking for items to be hallmarked after the Goldsmiths’ Company of Dublin Assay Office reiterated that all items of jewellery made using precious metals, regardless of weight, must be hallmarked to be sold in Ireland through the Dealers’ Notice announcement.

This small adaptation to legislation has meant that legally all Irish jewellery retailers, pawnbrokers or anyone trading in articles of precious metals must have a Dealers’ Notice – a board that explains standards of finesse, date marks and conventional precious metal hallmarks – on show in the their stores.

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Ronald Le Bas, chief executive and assay master at Dublin Assay Office, explained that the update to the legislation follows Ireland splitting off from the hallmarking standards used in the UK, which happened back in the early 1920s.

“The UK and Irish standards for hallmarking were the same until 1923 when Ireland became a free state,” he explained. “Since then where the UK has had weight exemptions for any items being assayed, we have not.”

Any item of precious metal on sale in Ireland must bear a hallmark, no matter its weight. Ireland is also home to different finesse marks to the UK – 10ct and 20ct gold – with 10ct Assayed in Ireland owing to the amount of Irish manufactured gold jewellery that is shipped across the Atlantic for the US market, where the Irish hallmark is a distinguishing feature used to show the product is genuinely from Ireland.

The arrival of the Dealers’ Notice mirrors similar legislation already in place in the UK, where details of hallmarks and finesse marks should be on show in jewellery or precious metal retailers, as clear and concise information for consumers.
Ireland accepts UK hallmarks from the four UK Assay Offices, with Le Bas praising the work of the four offices, describing EAO as a “fantastic Assay Office” that has helped highlight the changes to UK manufacturers.

The EAO’s chief executive and assay master Scott Walter said: “The guidance issued by the Dublin Assay Office defines a legal hallmark [to include] International Convention Hallmarks or an approved hallmarks. Although the UK Assay Offices are able to apply International Convention Hallmarks I have had written confirmation from the Irish authorities that UK Domestic Hallmarks are also approved.”

The changes in Ireland might have a knock-on effect to UK and overseas jewellery manufacturers and designers selling in Ireland. Although all items exported to Ireland for sale must bear a hallmark, the arrival of the Dealers’ Mark reiterates this point. All precious metal items must be marked otherwise companies risk having items returned to them to be assayed.

UK-based jewellery brand Babette Wasserman has a number of retail partners in the Republic of Ireland. Last year it decided to blanket hallmark all of its products. Its founder Babette Wasserman said: “The blanket hallmarking includes items that fall under the minimum weight because in the past each time we have sent orders to Ireland, we have had to send extra shipments to the Assay Office. Now that we hallmark all items it allows us for easier shipping throughout the entire UK and Ireland.”

This article was taken from the July 2012 issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. To read a digital version of this issue click here.

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