Whilst examining last month’s silver hallmarking figures, Professional Jeweller decided to look more closely into the monumental rise of 800 parts silver in the last couple of years, and to find out the reason behind this increase, from experts in the know.
Back in 2013, hallmarking figures for 800 parts silver, which denotes a composition of 80% silver, was down by 77.8% from the previous year. By 2014, the figure jumped up by 44%, and in 2015, rose by a staggering 764.1%.
In the jewellery industry, we’re usually more focused on the performance of fine and sterling silver. In fact, you’d be forgiven for not paying much attention at all to the other two, however, according to the Assay Office Birmingham, it appears there is an element of scandal surrounding the rise of 800 parts silver hallmarking.
It seems that the increase can be attributed to the UK assay offices discovering items that purport to be sterling silver, but that do not make the cut. Essentially, all of the 800 marks that have been applied to items of silver over the past year have been submitted to assay offices as 925 (92.5%) silver but have failed, so they have been marked down to 800, which is the lowest standard of metal that can be called silver in the UK.
The Assay Office Birmingham does point out, however, that these items are potentially of a higher fineness than 800 parts, but with no negative tolerances the assay offices in the UK have no choice but to come down to the next recognised standard.
Therefore, as opposed to the rise indicating an increased demand or popularity for 800 parts silver, it actually demonstrates that a couple of large consignments attempted to enter the industry purporting to be of higher quality, but got caught out for not making the grade.
They might’ve gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling assay offices!