Failed sterling silver attributed to dramatic rise of 800 parts silver hallmarking

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. David Gilbert said:

    Interesting, but what your report doesn’t show is buy how much the difference was. If these eventual 800 marked items missed the grade by 1% or 2% that would be less of a ‘getting caught out’ than by missing the 925 grade by say 9% or 10%.

    • Naida RedgraveNaida Redgrave said:

      That’s a very good point David. We were careful to include that the Assay Office Birmingham points out that the items are of a potentially higher fineness than 800 parts, but we’ll look into whether further information is available.

  2. Nicky said:

    My concerns are that far too much “silver” (particularly sold in street market stalls and craft fairs) in the UK are imported from Mexico and Bali among others. The sellers say the pieces are hallmarked and they are not. A 925 stamp is not a hallmark. I love the hallmarking system and all my work i can mark is marked, this costs money but i am proud of the work i produce but importation rules on jewellery is far to lax. The rules should be any precious metal jewellery brought into this country is sent straight to a nominated Assay office before it is sent on to the retailer.

  3. David Gilbert said:

    Thank you Naida – clearly AOB will know exactly what fineness the items are; but recognise that they may not record such data by % and may just record as a ‘fail’, although I am curious now to find out if they do and what the results were.

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